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Gibson Sings the Bankruptcy Blues

Remembering better days with 21 guitar gods—and their Gibsons.

Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, and Carlos Santana—and who knows how many more, dreaming of stardom—have slung a Gibson guitar over their shoulders since the company was founded more than 100 years ago. But on May 1, 2018, none of them could stand between Gibson Brands, Inc. and Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Don't cue up the power ballads just yet, though: Gibson is restructuring, not shutting down, and the company says it will move forward with a renewed focus on instrument manufacturing, its core business. With luck, the brand should be around for a while. Here, a few guitar heroes who are no doubt wishing Gibson the best.

PICK SOLD SEPARATELY Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns PICK SOLD SEPARATELY Jimmy Page drags a violin bow across his Gibson Les Paul on stage in Amsterdam on May 27, 1972. SHE LOVES ROCK AND ROLL Waring Abbott/Getty Images SHE LOVES ROCK AND ROLL Joan Jett plays her Gibson at Shea Stadium on August 18, 1983. DOUBLE TROUBLE Chris Morphet/Redferns DOUBLE TROUBLE Pete Townshend with a double-necked Gibson in October 1967. STRETCH Mick Hutson/Redferns STRETCH Slash of Guns N' Roses performs, with his Gibson Les Paul, at Wembley Stadium in 1992. BOOM BOOM Paul Natkin/Getty Images BOOM BOOM Delta bluesman John Lee Hooker plays his Gibson ES in Chicago on October 12, 1990. NEW YORK CALLING Roberta Bayley/Redferns NEW YORK CALLING Mick Jones of the Clash performs at the Palladium in New York in February 1979. TO 11 Clayton Call/Redferns TO 11 Christopher Guest, as Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel, plays a Gibson Les Paul at Wolfgang's in San Francisco on June 25, 1984. MAGIC HANDS Clayton Call/Redferns MAGIC HANDS Nancy Wilson of Heart plays a Gibson Flying V at the Oakland Coliseum on July 4, 1981. STEP INTO THE SPOTLIGHT Shinko Music/Getty Images STEP INTO THE SPOTLIGHT Carlos Santana shreds at the Fukuoaka Kyudenkinen Gymnasium on June 27, 1973. THE SKY IS CRYING Baron Wolman/Getty Images THE SKY IS CRYING Albert King plays his Gibson Flying V at the Memphis Blues in June 1969. THE MAN HIMSELF Waring Abbott/Getty Images THE MAN HIMSELF Les Paul plays his namesake guitar at Fat Tuesday's in New York on January 25, 1993. LISTEN CLOSELY Michael Ochs Archives LISTEN CLOSELY Eric Clapton, in his Cream days, plucks a Gibson SG backstage at the RKO Theatre in New York in March 1975. CLEAN CUT David Redfern/Redferns CLEAN CUT A young Keith Richards plays his Les Paul with the Rolling Stones on the British TV show "Thank Your Lucky Stars" in 1965. JUST LIKE A-RINGIN' A BELL Jan Persson/Redferns JUST LIKE A-RINGIN' A BELL Chuck Berry plays a Gibson ES circa 1975. BEFORE ROSEBUD Steve Schapiro/Corbis via Getty Images BEFORE ROSEBUD Jerry Garcia plays a Gibson Les Paul in this undated photo. THE GODMOTHER Jan Persson/Redferns THE GODMOTHER Sister Rosetta Tharpe, aka the Godmother of Rock and Roll, plays a Gibson Barney Kessel in Denmark, circa 1970. WE SALUTE YOU Michael Putland/Getty Images WE SALUTE YOU Angus Young of AC/DC rocking his Gibson in 1981. PRETTY GIBSON David Redfern/Redferns PRETTY GIBSON Roy Orbison and his Gibson perform on "Thank Your Lucky Stars" in 1965. V FORMATION Pete Cronin/Redferns V FORMATION James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett of Metallica play matching Gibson Flying Vs in 1984. HOW BLUE CAN YOU GET Estate Of Keith Morris/Redferns HOW BLUE CAN YOU GET B.B. King and his Gibson, both smoking in the studio, 1971. SAVE IT FOR LATER Jan Persson/Redferns SAVE IT FOR LATER Frank Zappa sticks a cigarette in the strings of his Gibson circa 1970.