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The Cult's Billy Duffy talks his first guitar hero Johnny Thunders and Gibson guitars

Billy Duffy isn't just a great guitarist, he's always got excellent stories too. In the video above the Cult man tells Gibson TV about how he used to travel on the bus after school to the guitar shop in a little town to stare at a Les Paul Junior in the window. Such was the power seeing Johnny Thunders live had over him. 

But he never did get a Junior; instead he ended up with the Les Paul Customs he became associated with in The Cult, alongside the Gretsch White Falcon. He also once told us he sold a '59 Les Paul to Bob Rock for £10,000. And he also revealed the guitar he started out on. 

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"My first guitar was a black Les Paul Custom copy made by a Japanese firm called Columbus," Billy told us back in 2016. "It had a bolt-on neck – that's how bad it was – and it cost £35 in 1974. I was obsessed with music, and a couple of kids at school had a band, so I talked my dad into buying me that guitar.

"I had it all in place: a little practice amp, curly guitar cable, plectrum, tuning fork - because there weren't electronic tuners yet. I had everything plugged in, and it was like, 'Now what?' I actually had to play something. That was the hard part. I was shit. I was terrible. But I was a quick learner."

And he never lost his sense of modesty either. "I've never thought I was great at the guitar," Billy added. "You'll never read an interview where I'm talking about how great I am. I thought I was a two-trick pony - but they were good tricks."

The Cult's Billy Duffy: "Do you really want to go to your grave having never owned a Gretsch? It should be on the bucket list!"

Rob Laing

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.