Guitar with case used by Lucky Starr

Made by Levin Guitar Company in Sweden, 1958.

Due to its unique shape and strong association with Lucky Starr, this guitar is probably the best remembered of any instrument used by Australia’s first rock ‘n’ roll stars.

Lucky Starr was an important figure in the first wave of Australian rock ‘n’ roll. Born Leslie Morrison in 1941, he began singing at talent quests in Sydney in 1957 under the stage name of Les Starr. He formed a band called the Hepparays, whose first professional engagement in 1959 was performing between exercises at a phys...

Summary

2005/24/1
Electric guitar, solid body is mostly black with a white scratch plate. The shape of the body is that of a five-pointed star. Metal bridge screwed to body. Wooden saddle. One pick-up. Headstock has the word 'Levin' and a floral symbol inlaid [in mother-of-pearl]. Machine heads have white tuning pegs. A dark brown leather strap is attached to the guitar.

Case is cream coloured textured vinyl, with two gold coloured metal clasps located along the front, the handle is missing. The interior of the case is fitted with foam covered with black felt and the inside of the lid is roughly painted black.

Production

The Levin Guitar Company was a Swedish firm founded by HC Levin in the early 1900s. HC Levin came from Goteburg and was a trainee luthier with Martin in the USA before returning to Sweden to establish his own company. The Levin Guitar Company was purchased by Martin in the early 1970s. Lucky Starr bought this Levin jazz guitar around 1960 and replaced the body with a star-shaped piece of timber cut with a bandsaw by the father of the drummer in Lucky's band the Hepparays.

In Lucky Starr's own words 'I went to Harry Landis [musical instrument store in Park St Sydney] and bought a Levin American jazz guitar. The body had been damaged. So I took the neck off and my drummer Owen's dad helped cut the body. Owen's father was a cabinet maker and had a bandsaw. He cut the star shape from a piece of timber. He helped me fit the neck. He spray-painted it black. I put electronics in it and fixed it up. I put a pick-up in it. In those days it was an electro-magnetic one. I made a scratch plate out of white plastic. It never worked well but ... ' (Lucky Starr in conversation with Peter Cox, 2002)
Levin Guitar Company 1958

History

Lucky Starr began playing this unique guitar in stage performances around the time he started recording for Festival Records in 1960. Along with his string tie, the star-shaped guitar accentuated his rockabilly image. In fact he liked the guitar more for image purposes than for functional reasons and recently admitted that 'When I used to take it off, I used to poke myself in the eye'. (Lucky Starr in conversation with Peter Cox, 2002). By the time he had a major hit with 'I've Been Everywhere' in 1962, the star-shaped guitar was no longer a feature of his act. He kept it, lent it to the Powerhouse Museum in 2002 for the travelling exhibition 'Spinning Around: 50 years of Festival Records' and decided to donate it in 2004.
Starr, Lucky 1958-1960

Source

Gift of Lucky Starr, 2004

Cite this Object

Guitar with case used by Lucky Starr 2016, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 March 2017, <https://ma.as/347516>
{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/347516 |title=Guitar with case used by Lucky Starr |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=25 March 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
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This object is currently on display in Store 2 at the Museums Discovery Centre
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