The Fire
. Some years ago, while I was touring with King Crimson, there was a terrible fire at my barn. Everything in it was destroyed, including many basses and amps. I heard about it the same day, and drove home after that night's show. Of course I was saddened by the loss, and sifted through the remains. One charred relic of a bass caught my attention. Its blackened body was shrunk to half its size, with the pickup melted right onto the charred wood. The neck was gone - the truss rod had survived, but the heat had bent it in half. All four strings were annealed to the bridge, and stuck out at odd angles, one with a tuning peg melted onto its end. A sad sight. I took the bass to that night's show with King Crimson in New Haven - we set it up on stage next to the other basses- quite a sight. And it smelled awful. In doing that, Michele, my tech, noticed that it had no volume controls, which meant it must be the 3 string bass which Music Man had custom made for me, and which had been featured on a magazine cover only months before. They had put so much work into the bass, having to redesign the neck and pickup for only that one instrument. How could I break them the news that it was gone? I shipped them the bass, and preceded its arrival with the following fax:

Hello Sterling. I am having some trouble with the neck of my custom 3 string, and have shipped it to you to adjust. Sincerely, t.l.

Days later, I received this answer:

We have received your bass. Please be advised that this instrument is out of warranty. California no longer allows smoking in bars, which has substantially reduced the odor problem your bass exudes. We have otherwise checked it out and everything appears to be to factory specifications.

When I heard about the upcoming THRaK aTTaK cd from Crimson, I pondered, what very radical photo could I take to use for this package. The burnt instruments, of course! I tried projecting the band photo onto them - didn't work. Finally, in the Blizzard of '96, I layed them out in the snow, with the burnt barn behind them. Shot in b&w, hand tinted the result and painted in burning sky. Radical!

  • My old Fender Precision, circa '50s, serial #48,000-ish. Had my blood on it from when P.G. bashed my head by mistake.
  • Super Silver Bass with interchangable necks. The Sledgehammer bass.
  • 3 String Custom "Harley" bass.
  • Pick Bass. Custom picks from around the planet embedded into finish.
  • Clevinger upright
  • Status Graphite walnut 4 string
  • prototype NS Upright Electric
  • Guild Ashbury "Rubber Bass". Used on P.S's "Lovetown"
  • Bogart Custom frettless
  • Half Frettless custom Chapman Stick
  • Polycarbonate Stick
  • 12 String Stick

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