Kurt Cobain's guitar has a date with Mudgee

ROCKER: Peter Freedman AM posed with the legendary piece of memorabilia at the Church Street clock recently. Photo: Benjamin Palmer

ROCKER: Peter Freedman AM posed with the legendary piece of memorabilia at the Church Street clock recently. Photo: Benjamin Palmer

The holy grail of music memorabilia is heading to NSW's Central West.

When RODE Microphones founder and chairman Peter Freedman AM paid a record US$6.01 million ($9 million AUD) for Kurt Cobain's guitar in June this year, he says he never intended to keep it as a collectible.

Instead, he said the attention he knew it would inevitably attract would be a chance to bring attention to the music and arts industries around Australia and the world that are doing it tough thanks to COVID.

Peter flew the iconic instrument to Mudgee, NSW, recently where the Mudgee Guardian was invited to see and speak about the guitar with Peter, who said he has big plans for Mudgee and the guitar.

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Peter said he hopes to take it on a 'world tour' of sorts, starting in Mudgee, assuming he can find a suitable local venue in a post-COVID world.

"Music, entertainers, that's my life. I can remember nothing else... it's been supporting me and my family forever. And of course now, entertainers, musos they've fallen through the cracks. There's no dole, job keeper, nothing. It's a horror," Peter said.

"So I think 'all right, what can I do to shed some light on it' - and we already do lots of charity work. But it's about more than the money, it's about driving change at a political level. So, what I wanted to do is to be able to get something that politicians want to be around. And they all want an opportunity to be around something like that because it's newsworthy.

"If it wasn't for COVID, we would have started touring around but I always planned to have it here first. Mudgee's been a huge part of RODE. If it wasn't for Tony [Furney] and Furney's Engineering, I wouldn't have RODE mics."

While the touring of the guitar is in the early stages of planning, it hasn't stopped Peter from aiming high with his idea for the guitar's time in Mudgee.

"It will certainly put the eyes of the world on Mudgee. Oh, my god. Yes. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing," Peter laughed.

Peter said once COVID has settled down he will start planning how the guitar will be displayed in Mudgee and give everyone a chance to check it out.

"I'm thinking of course, it's on display somewhere. There's a ticket thing so we'll get donations to the foundation, but then off that there's got to be other attractions. There's got to be food stalls and music. A nice awesome weekend," he said.

HISTORY: The guitar on display at a secret location in Mudgee recently. Photo: Benjamin Palmer

HISTORY: The guitar on display at a secret location in Mudgee recently. Photo: Benjamin Palmer

"We can do some pretty interesting things because certainly there's untold millions of people who lose their mind over it. You could even do some kind of thing where you put it in a bulletproof case and stick a camera in it and display it downtown or something."

Peter learned of the guitar when a friend of his in the United States who sells memorabilia told him it was coming up at auction.

Peter said he holds no nostalgia for the guitar or the period in music history it represents, ironically it instead takes him back to one of the toughest periods of his life.

"For me, it's very bittersweet because at the time I was in a lot of financial trouble. And so of course, there's kind of this backing track. Me walking around L.A. thinking I'm going to die because I've got no money," he said.

"So it's there, but I'm not going 'yeah, that was such a great time'. But to hold it, I just see there's a lot of sadness associated with him [Cobain] too. But it's more the madness of it, that much money [for the guitar]. That's bullshit, really, isn't it? And how can people spend that and - okay, it's funny me saying that - how can it be worth that when all these other people can't eat?"

The guitar is in good condition though you can see where it's seen some be Cobain.

The guitar is in good condition though you can see where it's seen some be Cobain.

And this is the impetus for the planned tour, to bring money and attention to the arts and music industry in Australia and around the world that has been hit hard by Coronavirus.

"And it's just a guitar. Yeah it's got some speciality for some of us. One guy offered me twenty grand to play it for 15 minutes and that's mad," Peter said.

"It's the attention it commands. One bloke who was going to buy it, he was a multibillionaire. To him it's just another toy. He would have added it to his collection.

"When I get rid of it, it's not going to go to one of those blokes I can tell you that."

At the end of the day, Peter stressed that it's still 'just a guitar'.

'It's just a guitar' might sound blasphemous to some music fans, who covet the guitar that Cobain played during the now legendary MTV Unplugged performance in 1993, six months before his death on April 5, 1994.

The 1959 Martin D-18E was bought from Julien's Auctions on Saturday the 20th of June for US$6,010,000 as part of their 'Music Icons' sale.

Far exceeding the reserve of $1 million, the sale made it the most valuable guitar ever bought at auction.

The guitar came complete with its original case, adorned with stickers and even a tiny stash bag of Cobain's inside.

Peter pointed out that there were even fibres from Cobain's jumper caught in the machine heads at the top of the guitar.

This story Kurt Cobain's guitar set to go on a world tour, opening night in Mudgee first appeared on Mudgee Guardian.