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Meet Thomas Tull - the billionaire movie mogul, Slash collaborator and guitar aficionado

Classic Tull: Ghost Hounds' Thomas Tull with a vintage Gibson Les Paul (Image credit: Alba Tull)

Thomas Tull launched the blockbuster film company Legendary Entertainment and is part-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s been behind Jurassic World, The Dark Knight and the Hangover film series as well as the 2008 Jimmy Page/the Edge/Jack White documentary It Might Get Loud. But Tull’s real passion is his first one: the guitar.

Of course, he’s got a seriously impressive collection of '50s Les Pauls, Teles and Strats, but Tull is no mere collector or dilettante. He’s a skilled player who puts his classic instruments to good use, cranking out riffs from the Rolling Stones/Led Zeppelin/Aerosmith school of rock in his band, Ghost Hounds, teaming with lead player Johnny Baab to create interwoven, crunchy guitar parts.

They’ve just released their second album, Roses Are Black, which features guest appearances by Slash, Reese Wynans (Stevie Ray Vaughan), David Grissom and Kenny Aronoff and is engineered by Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix). Tull wrote most of the songs with Grissom and Kevin Bowe (Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd).

“I love being collaborative,” Tull says. “It’s actually one of the through lines of everything I’ve done - and certainly between making movies and making music. There’s something remarkable about sitting and creating something together with incredibly talented people. 

"You all work together and suddenly you’re watching an audience react to a movie or move their body involuntarily to a song. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Ghost Hounds have had some big-name experiences, opening for the Rolling Stones, ZZ Top and Bob Seger, and Tull is deep into writing material for the band’s next album. He insists that he has no problems concentrating at business meetings while daydreaming of rock ’n’ roll adventures. 

“The through line of my entire life has been intellectual curiosity,” Tull explains. “I’ve always gotten very excited about learning a bunch of different things. In high school, I was a musician and an athlete and a science geek and a comic book nerd. It’s always been about a mix of things. 

"I find it stimulating to go from thing to thing; everything drives each other. I’m well aware that I’m one of the luckiest people walking the planet.”

Gear

Guitars

  • Two 1959 Gibson Les Pauls
  • 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop
  • 1951 Fender Telecaster

Amps

  • 1965 Marshall JTM45
  • Marshall Handwired 4x12 
  • 1959 Fender High Power Twin
  • Radial JD7 guitar signal splitter

Effects

  • Original Klon Centaur
  • Pete Cornish NB -3 linear boost
  • Chase Tone boost
  • Dunlop Echoplex
  • Boss DD-6 delay
  • Boss TU-2 tuner
  • Strymon power supply

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Alan Paul is the author of three books, Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan, One Way Way Out: The Inside Story of the Allman Brothers Band – which were both New  York Times bestsellers – and Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues and Becoming a Star in Beijing, a memoir about raising a family in Beijing and forming a Chinese blues band that toured the nation. He’s been associated with Guitar World for 30 years, serving as Managing Editor from 1991-96. He plays in two bands: Big in China and Friends of the Brothers, with Guitar World’s Andy Aledort.