Since 1949, B.B. King has been naming each and every one of the guitars he’s used as Lucille. In 2005, on his 80th birthday, King was presented with an ES-345 prototype guitar, which had the name Lucille engraved onto it. The prototype was made in a limited edition of 80 guitars.
As The Guardian explains, King used this model as his main instrument until it was stolen in 2009 and then pawned in Las Vegas. A guitar collector bought it, discovered where it came from, and later returned it to King, who used it until his death in 2015.
Recently, the guitar ended up at an auction with some other items from B.B. King’s estate and was sold for $280,000, almost tripling its original estimated value. Some other items at the auction also sold at a much higher value – a gold and diamond ring estimated at up to $8,000 went for $16,250, while a collection of 78rpm blues records sold for $51,200, up from a top estimate of $700.
Many fans thought that B.B. King might have named his guitar Lucille because of a love of his, or a close member of his family, but it turns out something else was in question.
The Guardian recounts the story. Back in 1949, King was “playing in an Arkansas dance hall when a fight between two men caused a fuel tank to catch fire; King escaped but ran back in to save his guitar. He later found out the men had been fighting over a woman named Lucille and gave her name to every guitar since.”