On July 27, 2012, over a billion people listened to the 50th anniversary of the “James Bond Theme” as performed by guitarist Vic Flick when Daniel Craig and HRH Queen Elizabeth II opened the XXX Summer Olympiad in London, England. The festivities, of course, honored the half century since Dr. No premiered. It was for that film the most famous guitar solo in history made its first appearance as played on Flick’s cello-bodied Clifford Essex Paragon De Luxe Guitar.
On February 2, 2013, that guitar goes on the eBay auction block. According to Bond expert Matt Sherman, the high bidder not only takes home the Clifford Essex, but also gets a “special day with Mr. and Mrs. Flick and the vehicles of Bond, plus airfare and a cabin for two aboard the brand new Dream-class Carnival Breeze to join OOSailin, a tour hosted by espionage experts of James Bond and spy locations in Jamaica and The Bahamas in April 2013 celebrating the 60th Anniversary of April 1953’s publication of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale.” Get out your checkbooks, 007 fans!
Over the years, Flick has told the story many times of how he came to record the “James Bond Theme,” how his version appeared in eight 007 films, how he worked with George Martin on A Hard Day’s Night, why Paul McCartney chose him to play on the former Beatle’s Thrillington project, and his work on recordings by the likes of Petula Clark, Tom Jones, and Peter and Gordon. He told the full story of his career in his lively 2008 memoir, Vic Flick, Guitarman: From James Bond To The Beatles and Beyond published by Bear Manor Media.
But for the occasion of the auction of his old friend, Vic graciously agreed to answer a few questions about the Clifford Essex and its storied history. Here’s what he had to say.
Where and when did you get the Clifford Essex? What attracted it to you?
It was 1959 and pure chance how I came to own the Clifford Essex guitar. London musicians used to gather “up the street” every Monday to get work, get paid, talk and maybe have a beer or two in the Red Lion Pub. “The street” was Denmark Street adjacent to Charing Cross Road where I met a very dejected looking Diz Dizley.
Diz and I had worked together in the Bob Cort skiffle group and it was unusual to see him unhappy. Money problems were forcing him to sell his beloved Clifford Essex guitar, so I bought it from him and we both went to the Red Lion Pub to try and cheer him up.
What recordings does the Clifford Essex appear on before the “James Bond Theme”? How about after?
I can’t remember any specific recordings but it was always in the trunk of my car along with a 12-string guitar, Spanish guitar, banjo and an amplifier. I definitely used it on Dr. No, From Russia With Love, and Goldfinger.
After the “Bond Theme,” the Clifford Essex shared the 007 honors with my second Fender Stratocaster. The first Stratocaster was stolen a couple of months before the Dr. No session.
Did you use the Clifford Essex on your 2000 solo album, James Bond Now, where you updated and rearranged many 007 title songs?
As the guitar has many qualities, and one of them is as a great rhythm guitar, I used it in the back ground of a few tracks just to “authenticate” the CD. I used to enjoy playing the Clifford Essex in the rhythm sections of big bands, like Ted Heath, Eric Winston, etc. Its large cello body makes for a sound that melds well with the bass and drums.
Can you share the story about the guitar going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and why you took it back? I forget where it was displayed after that…
A very good friend of mine, Bob Rush [of the Ripchords] thought the guitar should be in the R&R Hall of Fame and contacted the Museum with his request. The R&R Museum quickly requested the guitar for an exhibit in the foyer where it resided for two years. The Museum rotates its exhibits and asked if I wanted the guitar back or would I donate it to the Museum. I opted to have the guitar back as Harvey Newquist, Director of the National Guitar Museum, wanted the guitar for his touring exhibition. Harvey sent the guitar to me as soon as the auction process started.
Why did you finally decide to sell it? Is this at all pulling on your heartstrings to part with it?
I have had some good offers for the guitar and decided to put it up for auction under the auspices of Matt Sherman of commanderbond.net.
The Clifford Essex is a great guitar with a lot of memories and a lot of historic provenance but the time is right to sell it. I think the price of the guitar will ensure it goes to a good home. Plus, my wife and I can enjoy the results.
No doubt, the winning bidder in the auction should enjoy some happy results as well. Further details are at:
eBay: “The World’s Most Famous Guitar – James Bond – Vic Flick’s Clifford Essex Paragon”
OOSailin Details: sites.google.com/site/oosailin
For further information, contact Matt Sherman by phone at (USA) 352-871-0967 and email: BaconBond@gmail.com.