Page: “I was the only one who ever played it, so I ‘acquired’ it.”
Gregory Page’s music may not have troubled the charts just yet, but the same doesn’t hold true for his acoustic guitar, a 1953 Guild M-20.
Long his favorite instrument, Page recently learned that the guitar was once used by British pop singer Jimmy Justice during his brief time on the charts. In 1962, Justice scored on the U.K. charts with “When My Little Girl Is Smiling” (#9), “Ain’t That Funny” (#8), and “Spanish Harlem” (#20).
The connection was made while doing research on the Page family’s musical history, which includes his mother, Moy Page, a multi-instrumentalist who’s mid-’60s band the Beat Chics toured with the Beatles in August 1965, and his father, Krikor Hovelian, a touring musician with the Martians, who spent part of that same decade among the Hamburg, Germany, Beat-group scene. Meanwhile, his uncle, David Page, is a drummer who has played with Tom Jones and Sinatra.
“My grandfather on my dad’s side, who passed away before I was born, gave the Guild to his daughter, which would be my Aunt Claire. He was longtime friends with Jimmy, and when his career started to fade, Jimmy began selling off his guitars,” Page recalled. The instrument was brought to America when the Page family moved to North Park in 1976. “It wasn’t a gift to me. It was a guitar that was always in the family, and I was the only one who ever really played it, so I ‘acquired’ it. I wouldn’t let it out of my arms. It was the one connection that I had to England at the time.”
According to research done on the serial number, it is the 125th guitar in the series made. Similar instruments have sold for up to $2000, not big money as far as vintage guitars are concerned, but it’s a priceless item to Page. The guitar has also been used on numerous sessions by other artists, including Jeff Berkley. As Page’s primary instrument, he has written the bulk of his material on it, as well as using it on stage and in the studio, including his new album, Shine, Shine, Shine. The music is a departure for Page, trading his trademark jazzy acoustic troubadour sound for a 22-piece big band, but the guitar still features. “It wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t there,” he said.
On April 20 and 21, Page will perform at the North Park Vaudeville & Candy Company, alongside Tom Brosseau and actor John C. Reilly, where the guitar will once again take center stage. While Page has a small arsenal of musical instruments to accompany him, it’s clear that nothing holds the same place in his music as Jimmy Justice’s former instrument. Page says, “At this point [this guitar’s] not just an old friend, its family.”