“Owned by, played by, signed by and designed by some of the brightest lights in rock ‘n’ roll”: Eric Clapton launches 25th anniversary Crossroads Festival auction – and it includes some serious instruments

A collection of guitars from the Eric Clapton Crossroads Centre guitar auction
(Image credit: Heritage Auctions)

Earlier this year, Eric Clapton assembled a huge legion of electric guitar and acoustic guitar heroes for the 2023 Crossroads Guitar Festival – a six-string celebration that also served as the 25th anniversary of the event.

To celebrate that fact – and to raise funds for the charitable foundation that the Crossroads Festival serves – Slowhand has now teamed up with Heritage Auctions for an all-star guitar auction.

Comprising stage-used, hand-signed and one-of-one instruments owned and played by the many Crossroads alumni, the auction is set to take place on December 8, with all proceeds going towards the Crossroads Centre in Antigua.

The Centre was opened by Clapton in 1998 and, in the Stratocaster master’s own words, helps “thousands of men and women needing help with their addictions, including numerous people from the Caribbean, where little help was previously available”.

“Crossroads continues to flourish,” Clapton said in a statement, “but it always needs funds to subsidize help for those who could not otherwise afford it.”

PRS Silver Sky Crossroads Festival edition

(Image credit: Heritage Auctions)

The auction itself isn’t short of highlights, and a quick glance at the lot reveals a suite of eye-catching offerings. Unsurprisingly, the instrument that has so far attracted the most attention is Clapton’s signed 2019 “Crash” Strat – the instantly recognizable Todd Krause creation painted by John Matos that saw action at the 2019 edition of the festival.

Specially, Slowhand wielded it to perform While My Guitar Gently Weeps with Peter Frampton, Layla with John Mayer, and pay tribute to Prince with a Purple Rain performance.

Gibson "Flower Power" Les Paul

(Image credit: Heritage Auctions)

It’s joined by a prototype Crash Strat donated by Guitar Center Vintage that didn’t see stage action, but does bear Slowhand’s signature.

While on the subject of extravagantly finished guitars, the above are joined by a totally unique PRS Silver Sky signed by John Mayer himself, as well as a Master Artisan Collection “Flower Power” Les Paul that was constructed by Rickie Hinrishsen on site at the ‘19 Crossroads Festival.

In a testament to the sheer number of artists who graced the stage during the Crossroads Festivals, the auction also plays host to an army of guitars that are bursting at the seams with signatures.

Standout examples include a Gibson Les Paul signed by Clapton, Joe Bonamassa, Sheryl Crow, Samantha Fish, Eric Gales, H.E.R., Marcus King and more, and a Fender Strat signed by Peter Asher, Citizen Cope, John McLaughlin, Molly Tuttle, Stephen Stills and others.

2023 Crossroads Festival Marshall Bluesbreaker

(Image credit: Heritage Auctions)

Naturally, this is by no means an exhaustive list: we haven’t even mentioned the ‘65 Gibson SG Special played by Gary Clark Jr., the Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram signature guitar signed by the blues virtuoso himself, or the Steve Vai-signed Ibanez JEM7VP.

As well as the above guitars, the auction will also see the sale of a one-of-a-kind Marshall Bluesbreaker signed by both Eric Clapton and John Mayall. Star signatures aside, the combo boasts a custom Crossroads ‘23 grille cloth.

Bidding is now live, and the auction is set to close on December 8.

Head over to Heritage Auctions to find out more.

The '23 Crossroads Festival was certainly a spectacle. Highlights from the event include Kingfish, Eric Gales and Samantha Fish's cover of a Jeff Beck favorite, and Joe Bonamassa and John McLaughlin's rendition of Cause We've Ended as Lovers.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.