Mortal & Immortal Guitar: Gilby Clarke’s Custom Zemaitis

Lisa S. Johnson appears to be on a quest to photographically document every fabulous “artist guitar” on the planet. Her 2013 book, 108 Rock Star Guitars, is a treasure trove of stunning images that showcases guitars owned by Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Ben Harper, Carlos Santana, Mick Ronson, Chrissie Hynde, Bonnie Raitt, and tons of other rockers.

And she is at it again, preparing for the Fall 2020 release of Mortal + Immortal Guitars, which will stretch beyond the rockers to include iconic instruments from jazz, country, and blues players (as well as other stylists).

In addition, Johnson recently launched a YouTube Channel where she discusses the guitars with the players who made them scream, roar, rage, and thrill us.

In the video below, she and Lonn Friend talk to Gilby Clarke about the model master luthier Tony Zemaitis (1935-2002) personally crafted for the Guns N’ Roses guitarist.

“I first met up with Gilby on the 2015 Axes and Anchor’s cruise, with RIP magazine alumnae, Lonn Friend, and we talked about photographing his 1992 Custom Deluxe Zemaitis for my next book,” says Johnson. Subsequently I witnessed his stellar contribution at a Mr. Big performance honoring the late Pat Torpey, and found myself a couple of weeks later hauling my gear case—with the help of his daughter—up several flights of stairs to Gilby’s hidden studio at his home in the Los Angeles canyons. Once I set up, I got to spend some alone time with his axe and amps while he provided the riffing sounds of a new track he was mixing. At NAMM 2019, Lonn and I got a moment to sit down and chat with Gilby about his Guns N’ Roses guitar that was beautifully handcrafted by the late Tony Zemaitis.”

Please check out Guardians of Guitar from time to time for more awesome guitar and guitarist videos by Johnson.

Learn More About 108 Rock Star Guitars Here!

Author: Michael Molenda

Founder of Guardians of Guitar. Longest-serving Editor in Chief of GUITAR PLAYER (1997-2018). Long live Link Wray and Mick Ronson!


One thought on “Mortal & Immortal Guitar: Gilby Clarke’s Custom Zemaitis

  1. Nice little report here. Lisa Johnson’s book was NOT on my radar, but it certainly is now.

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