At some point in the 1950s, the Reverend Gary Davis obtained a number of Gibson SJ-200s from Eddie Bell Guitar Headquarters on New York City’s famous Musician’s Row. This marked the start of his love affair with the jumbo-bodied “king of the flattops,” which he passionately called Miss Gibson.
In the mid-1960s, the famous singer-songwriter and bluesman played among his SJ-200s in a performance at Le Hibou Coffee House in Ottawa, Ontario. Following the gig, Davis and regional poet Bill Hawkins obviously went on a two-week bender. When Davis lastly sobered up, without any cash to pay his buddy back for their substantial bar tabs, he left his Gibson as security.
What occurred to Davis’s SJ-200 in the occurring years is as dirty as a Louisiana overload. It’s now owned by an artist who appreciates its history– Canadian singer-songwriter Tom Wilson, who had the excellent fortune of scoring the guitar numerous years back from an Ottawa political leader.
When Wilson got the SJ-200, it was not in playable condition, so he took it to regional luthier Mike Spicer, at the Peghead in Hamilton, Ontario, for some repair. Spicer reglued the guitar’s loose braces and sealed a number of leading and back fractures, while likewise carrying out a much-needed neck reset. He left alone some previous repair work that belong of the guitar’s abundant history. Spicer’s greatest obstacle was making a brand-new moustache-style bridge in Brazilian rosewood and mother-of-pearl as the initial part was long gone.
When brought back, Wilson took what he now calls “the Rev” on the roadway for a set of trips with his folk-rock band Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. Today, he schedules the guitar for making up and taping. He and his bandmate Colin Linden chose that “anything composed on the Rev ought to consist of Davis’ spirit and often a line raised from his writing,” Wilson states. “When Colin plays the SJ-200, Gary Davis’ spirit fills the space. The guitar is a high-end liner, and I’ll play it till the day I pass away.”