Hanging first in a row of instruments at River City Guitars is a 1979 Fender Stratocaster. This electric guitar is a rarity, even more so than its rock-and-roll kin in the shop, down to the translucent burgundy color and hard-tail bridge – both oddities for its era.
But if something separates this vintage guitar from everyother selection in the shop, it’s that this one was the ax of choice for Jimmy Page, of Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin fame.
“To me, and I think to most people, that’s the big appeal about this particular piece, is that association,” said Bobby Kluss, co-owner of River City Guitars.
To understand how the guitar went from the hands behind the seismic riffing of “Whole Lotta Love” and “Immigrant Song” to the confines of a South Hill music shop, you have to go back to Lake Tahoe, Nevada, in the early 1990s.
“One of my client-friends played in the house band in Tahoe in this more exclusive club,” said Kluss. “When Jimmy was there staying at the house, they became friends, so they played together.”
The friend, known by Kluss as Robbie G., continued to play with Page through the early ’90s – the same period when the guitar god started showing up to the stage armed with a translucent burgundy Stratocaster.
These jams also spawned a chance for Page and fellow Lake Tahoe resident and Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale to indulge in covers of blues standards, leading to a collaboration that took shape in the 1993 album “Coverdale/Page.”
Shortly after the album’s release, Page decided to leave Lake Tahoe, but not before leaving Robbie with a keepsake.
“When he moved, he gave the guitar to Robbie for just being a friend,” said Kluss.
Now, after Robbie agreeing to part ways with the guitar, Kluss finds himself in possession of one of the great historical marvels to pass through a store built on the love of instruments with a history.
Kluss conceded that this might be the one exception to the unspoken guitar store rule to never play “Stairway to Heaven.” The guitar is priced at $20,000.
“It’s just a cool story about how it came together, just being able to have it here in Spokane. It’s crazy to have anything Led Zeppelin-associated or owned,” said Kluss.