The winning bid of $117,500 for a factory-fresh Gibson Les Paul Standard Special—in a satin finish of red, gun-metal grey and viper blue, and sporting bullet shell knobs, no less—caught even its country-rock instigator off guard.
“I dreamed of maybe $50,000,” says neo-outlaw singer/guitarist Tim Montana, who dreamed up the one-off Chris Kyle commemorative guitar after seeing American Sniper last year.
“That last day of the auction it just sat at $25,000 forever. I kept telling myself, ‘It's still a good amount of money, it goes to a worthy cause, you did good.’ Then right in the last hour the thing just exploded.” (All proceeds went to Kyle’s Guardian for Heroes Foundation.)
Montana, best known for “This Beard Came Here to Party,” the ZZ Top homage that became the 2013 World Series anthem of the Boston Red Sox, has been a Gibson man since pal Billy F. Gibbons gave him a personal walk-through at the Nashville factory two years ago.
“I had written a song [‘Freedom’s Never Free’] for a friend who battled PTSD, so after I saw the movie I thought, I'm going to call Gibson and see what the odds are of doing a Chris Kyle Les Paul.”
Montana, who performs with his band the Shrednecks, suggested finishing the guitar in the Kyle foundation’s logo—a skull with a rifle-scope crucifix over its right eye.
“I’m not a huge guitar collector or anything,” says Montana. “My first guitar, when I was six, was a classical guitar because my parents moved off the grid in Montana and we never had electricity. I remember taking it to a guitar store to see if they could help fix it up, and the guy told me, ‘Yeah, I’ll help you—take it out back and smash it.’ I left the store in tears.”