The late Duane Allman’s 1957 Goldtop Les Paul is one of the most important guitars in music history. It is now one of the most expensive.
Following the sale of Allman’s Gibson 1961/1962 SG last month, which was sold through Heritage for $591,000, the so-called “Layla” Les Paul has fetched $1.25 million when it was put up for auction at Gotta Have Rock and Roll.
Allman died in a motorcycle crash on 29 October 1971, aged 24. But he had already left behind a redoubtable musical legacy, and his ’57 Goldtop was very much part of that.
During the first two years of the Allman Brothers Band, it was his go-to guitar, having acquired it in 1968 from a member of the Hour Glass Band. Legend has it that Allman borrowed it and failed to return it, eventually offering a keyboard in recompense. We know who got the better deal there.
Allman also used the Goldtop while recording with Eric Clapton in 1970. He would part with it shortly after, swapping it plus $200 and a 50-watt Marshall head for a 1959 Les Paul cherry burst.
The Goldtop had been restored a couple of times before the owner got Tom Murphy to fix it up, and had been exhibited at the Allman Brothers Band Museum in Macon, Georgia.
A number of A-list guitarists had played it, including Billy Gibbons, Kirk Hammett and Derek Trucks. Indeed Trucks, formerly of the Allman Brothers Band, owns a '57 Goldtop that's one serial number away from the Duane Allman Goldtop, which he told us he considered selling to raise the funds to buy Allman's SG when it first went up for auction.
"I looked into it," he said. "What if I sell that, my car, and another few things? How close will that get me? ‘That’s not going to get you close enough!’ [Laughs] It’s fine. I just hope whoever gets it, plays it.”
The buyer has yet to be named but you can read more about the history of Duane Allman's Goldtop here.