Last Updated on September 12, 2023
“Epiphone 150th Anniversary: Featuring the Guitars of Noel Gallagher” at the British Music Experience is a temporary exhibition charting the history of this iconic instrument brand through the guitars of one of its most loyal artists, Noel Gallagher. The exhibition will run from 27 September 2023 to 14 January 2024 and will feature four of Noel’s private Epiphone guitar collection.
From the timeless cool of the jazz age through the looking glass of 1960s psychedelia to the wall of sound of 1990s Britpop and today’s eclectic scene, Epiphone instruments have remained central to pop culture’s “big bang” moments. The Casino, the Texan, the Sheraton, the Riviera – model names that chime with guitarists everywhere, inspiring awe and desire in equal measure, whether you are a Beatle or a beginner.
What most people don’t realise, however, is that Epiphone’s history stretches back even further than Gibson’s, beginning 150 years ago in a port on the Aegean Sea in what is now Turkey.
Origin of Epiphone guitars
A very American tale recounts the story of the Stathopoulo family’s journey from Greece and the Ottoman Empire to the streets of Manhattan and the eldest son, Epaminondas or Epi for short, taking his immigrant family’s honed craftmanship and leading the charge on modernizing instrument manufacturing for the rapidly changing times. Epiphone, meaning Epi’s voice, set its sights on rivalling the other great American guitar manufacturer,
Gibson. Following the tragic death of Epi from leukaemia in 1943, the company fell on hard times. In the 1950’s on the recommendation of Les Paul himself, Gibson successfully purchased Epiphone for $20,000 and set the stage for a new era in instrument design and creation.
The modern age has seen Epiphone blossom into a company that truly does offer an instrument For Every Stage of the journey as a player progresses from beginner to musician, singer-songwriter, or social media creators.
Moving into 2023, Epiphone has grand plans for its 150th Anniversary year, including a raft of exciting new product releases, special events, activities with signature artists, and much more besides. Here’s to the next 150 years – the House of Stathopoulo has never been in better health.
Epiphone and Noel Gallagher
To mark the anniversary from a British perspective, the temporary exhibition at the British Music Experience, will feature some of Noel Gallagher’s most treasured guitars. Noel Gallagher’s love for Epiphone started with The Beatles. Thirty years after “Revolver,” Epiphone instruments were used throughout the sessions for albums “Definitely Maybe” and “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory,” and, in 1996, Oasis headlined two epic shows at Knebworth, with Noel using a 1990s USA-made Sheraton for the era-defining performances.
While he used a wide range of guitars, pedals, and amplifiers throughout his career, Gallagher often used an Epiphone Les Paul in Cherry Sunburst, two Epiphone Sheratons, and the Beatles’ favourite Epiphone Casino.
“I wanted to start playing Epiphones because of the Beatles,” Noel Gallagher said. “I didn’t know anything about guitars then. They looked good; they felt good, I could make them sound good. I’m a songwriter, not a guitar player. You know, that’s my thing. I’m not one of those people who can sit in a guitar shop and play lots of things. I will literally play an E chord, and if it had sounded great and felt good, I would have just said, ‘Yeah, I’ll take it.’”
To mark 150 years of Epiphone, Noel has kindly loaned four of his private guitar collection for this exhibition, including his Epiphone Riviera with Bigsby from the Definitely Maybe album cover and his Epiphone Frontier FT110 used on the (What’s the Story) Morning Glory recording.
“Epiphone 150 celebrations landing in Liverpool is a great coup for the city,” adds Kevin McManus, Head of UNESCO City of Music for Liverpool. “The story of the brand is fascinating and sits perfectly at the British Music Experience. The space the Museum is housed in is the old marble clad passenger halls of The Cunard Building. It was the very space where the physical exchange between America and the UK started with the back and forth of people but also music and culture on the vast passenger ships. Epiphone tells the story of an immigrant family reaching the shores of the USA and living the American dream. This dream crossed the pond again and forms an important historical part of our music scene from BritPop to the Beatles. We are thrilled for the BME and Liverpool to host this line up of iconic guitars.”
Epiphone 150th anniversary
The BME has a season of activity planned to support the celebrations including the Epiphone take-over of the Gibson Brands Interactive Studio which will be refreshed and restocked with a line-up of the finest Epiphone guitars for all visitors to play along with the Gibson App. The Star Café and Bar will feature Epiphone artist album takeovers every Sunday at midday. The Epiphone 150th anniversary will form part of the Learning Programme and feature on school tours, and the public programme will include a film screening and a quiz night. Finally, the Museum’s merch store will feature Epiphone guitars available for purchase as well as Gibson Brands apparel and gifts.
“Epiphone has been at the heart of every significant musical movement for 150 years and what a fitting way to celebrate by being part of this exhibition in Liverpool” says Lee Bartram, Head of Commercial, Marketing and Cultural Influence EMEA at Gibson Brands. “The guitars on display can be seen and heard on some of the most important recordings and momentous performances from a UK artist in recent years, and we would like to thank Noel Gallagher and The BME for their support in telling the story of Epiphone; we can’t wait to see what the next 150 years will bring.”
The British Music Experience is in The Cunard Building, in the middle of the Three Graces on the Mersey in Liverpool.
“Epiphone 150th Anniversary: Featuring the Guitars of Noel Gallagher” is included with all general entry tickets purchased. All general entry tickets are valid for 12 months and each eligible visitor has the opportunity to support the Museum by Gift Aiding the cost of admission.
To purchase general entry tickets the BME, go to www.britishmusicexperience.com.