In a moment of desperation, I sold part of my soul. But then late one night …
By Jimmy Allen
In the spring of 1994, my band Puddle of Mudd was on the verge of success. We were getting massive airplay on 98.9 The Rock in Kansas City, with a catchy yet simple song I wrote one night called “You Don’t Know” from our first CD, Stuck.
We were just kids with big dreams back then, so it came as a huge shock to us when major labels began checking us out. We had been a band for less than a year!
Thanks to a strong local following, Puddle of Mudd was playing some good gigs and making decent money. We had a great band that really tore it up live.
One day, while making the rounds to some of the music stores in town, Sean Sammon and I went into Big Dude’s Music City, on Broadway Street in Kansas City, Mo., to pick up some strings. The Ernie Ball Music Man Eddie Van Halen guitar had just come out a year before, and anything Eddie put his stamp on could be trusted to be the real deal.
Big Dude’s music had just received a used 1993 red-flame top that very day. I had to see what kinda fire she had, so I plugged her into a Marshall (or was it a Peavey?) and let it rip! That guitar blew my young mind! I had to have it!
This EVH guitar was $800. So the band (but mostly Sean, because he heard the magic himself) decided to buy my bright red Les Paul Studio Lite (Number One Come Clean guitar), so I could get the EVH and shred some face.
I was connected to that guitar; it was a part of my soul. I played that EVH guitar at every POM show from then on. I wrote some cool Puddle songs with that guitar—hit songs like “She Hates Me” and even the chord changes and the chorus of “Blurry.” A piece of old wood with strings on it helped me achieve my childhood dreams and changed my life. The guitar helped spawn songs that have sold more than 6 million records.
I F*CKING SOLD IT?!!!?
Leaving POM was the hardest thing I ever did. I loved all the guys in the band like family, but what was once a band of brothers had been reduced to a ship of fools. No magic record deal had surfaced (as it later would in 1999). I was so broke and depressed, with no band, and my big music career was over. So the only thing I had of real value was my EVH guitar.
I sold it and paid my crappy apartment rent for two months. What the hell? I should have just become homeless. I felt sickened with regret for many weeks; it felt like I had sold a part of my soul. Maybe I had?
Just a few months ago, after working on some of Against All Will’s songs in my studio, I could not sleep at all. At 3 a.m. in the morning, I grabbed my laptop and decided to do what every guitar-player likes to do from time to time. No, not porn, or stalking ex girlfriends on Facebook. I was scouting eBay for cheap gear.
Out of the blue, I typed in EVH to just see what those guitars are worth now. I was stunned out of my mind when I happened to see the face of my old friend. I broke out some old POM pics, and went over each wood marking like a C.S.I. detective. It sure looked like a positive match.
Right away, I emailed the seller, asking if there was paint chipped here and there. He replied, “Yeah, how did you know that?” I responded quickly: “Because it used to be mine!”
I didn’t tell him the story, fearing he would jack the price up on me—so I bought it without blinking.
My old red EVH guitar was back. I even kissed it! It felt the same. It looked the same, just like it did when I sold it in 1998. Its smell reminded me of my misguided youth. I plugged it in and was transported back in time. It was amazing to finally hold her once again!
Red arrived back in my hands on Jan. 26. I felt the pure magic of this unique guitar’s power once again. I couldn’t believe it when I got online, and saw whose birthday it was that very day … Eddie Van Halen’s birthday. Maybe it was a sign from the rock gods?
Stay true to yourself. Never give up, and always follow your dreams.