The one that got away… son of a b!tch…


Everyone has a story of a guitar they should’ve bought, didn’t and regretted it… this is the story of the guitar that will haunt me forever & ever & ever & ever & ever….

Back in 1997, I was a screenprinter that had just moved to Brisbane and was just starting to play in a few bands in the local scene. My main axe was my 70’s Ibanez Korina Iceman , which I love. Anyway, one Saturday arvo I was surfing the net looking at guitar shops and came across what looked like a Jackson Kelly with white pin stripes and weird cut outs for sale in Sydney. The price was $1800, which I thought wasn’t too bad for a USA Jackson. I loved the Kelly shape as it looked like a bastard metal version of the Gibson Explorer and also reminded me a little of my beloved Iceman.

Marty Freidman from Megadeth was the Kelly’s main endorser and I always thought they looked frikken’ awesome.


Anyway, I noticed the Kelly that was for sale was a little different from Marty’s as it had weird body cut outs and white pinstripes. I’d heard the early series of Kelly’s made in the mid 80’s had these, but wasn’t sure how many were made or if they were really that rare.

I considered buying it as I had just sold my Les Paul and had a little money, but decided against it as I really didn’t need another weird shaped axe. And so I did something that I thought at the time was a nice gesture. I posted on the Jackson guitars forum that there was a King Kelly for sale in Sydney and left the link in the post. Then I went to my kitchen to make a sandwich and watched TV for an hour.

I sat back down at my computer to see that my post had gone apeshit with people falling over themselves trying to buy this axe. A little confused, I kept reading and found out that this King Kelly was THE King Kelly prototype, handmade by Jackson for  the Australian group’s Heaven lead guitarist Bradford Kelly. This thing was worth at least 15 grand… probably more.

The guy who eventually bought it (for $1800) sent me a lovely email saying how much he appreciated me posting that link. I read the email over and over, grinding my teeth like a mad man. My brother said “What’s it matter what it’s worth, you’d never have sold it anyway” which makes sense but didn’t make me feel better.

And so for the next 10 years I couldn’t even LOOK at a Jackson Kelly without thinking of what I missed out on.I’ve never even touched one since. If I go into a guitar store and a Kelly is hanging there, I leave.

The real kick in the nuts is that last year Jackson did a limited edition Custom Shop reissue of the #1 King Kelly.

Uuugh… just typing this story has made me feel sick. I’m gonna go lie down for a bit.



Here’s Bradford Kelly and the guitar that could’ve been mine… GAH!