Power Pickers
of the '60's

Musicians of the Flower Generation


Dishin’ wid da Duke of Pearl

Old, Good Friend CHUCK ERIKSON, now the renowned DUKE OF PEARL, saw my last post, “Doc Watson, Roy Noble & The Psychedelic Guitar,” and reminded me that he was one of the original Rapidograph Rangers who trip-scribbled all over the face of the mahogany dreadnought Roy built for Doc 40 years ago. (BTW, Chuck gets a FREE POWER-PICKERS FLATPICK for leaving a comment!)

Chuck and wife Cheryl are da bomb in cutting, preparing and supplying ultra-fine mother-of-pearl and abalone shell for inlays to luthiers all over the world. And now, back to me.

On the reverse of a photo Chuck sent me of Doc playing a Noble 12-string in 1969, someone wrote that I would visit Roy’s while Doc was staying there, and “usually the music went all night.” This is good, because until now I didn’t know about it. I mean, these were my post-grad finishing years, when I altered my mind and abused substances as much and as fast as I could. Don’t tell your mother.

I had a rock band then, Evergreen Blueshoes, and we were running all over LA trying to cover an album we cut in 1968 for Amos Records, whom we ultimately traced to Warners/Elektra before they remembered who we were. Anyway, the period from late 1967 to ’69 we lurched from joint to joint, from places like the Whiskey a’Go Go and the Ash Grove in H’wood to the Plush Pussy (no kidding) in Reseda. One of my temporal lobes spilled out on the Ventura Freeway between Laurel and Topanga Canyons, so if you can tell me anything about me and my band during that time I will pay top dollar. (If you want to learn anything about the band, click here. How hard is that?)

Anyway, I know Chuck from before even then. I know him thru Roy, who sold his guitars in my shop at the Ash Grove in 1966, and is seen here with Chuck. Roy is, amazingly, if you know Roy, the straight-looking one.  I know Chuck for so long I can’t remember half the things I remember him for. But I’ll try.

Besides decorating guitar tops, he made good banjos and great inlays (no visible filler, just pearl and wood. He did two guitar necks for me, one for my Gibson ES335TDC that spelled out “Mother of Pearl,” the other for my Noble dreadnought that displayed my phone number); invented a patentable joint-rolling machine, which he claims he never used for himself. Right. He mined gold, scrapped metal, traveled all over Asia, dealt blackjack in his own brothel in Tahoe, and much, much more.

All of this was done while building a M.O.P. (mother-of…you got it) empire that counts Gibson, Martin, Taylor, and, of course, Noble Guitars, as supplicants (can you use that word in public?) to his demonic skills.

Duke’s been mothering pearl for 40 years, and, with Duchess Cheryl, holds court at http://www.dukeofpearl.com/, one of the most entertaining sites I’ve ever seen. You could go there instead of the movies, except that your Precious Treasure would think you were a cheap-assed douchebag she never wanted to see again. On the other hand, you could use the money you saved not going to the movies to have Chuck make you that Japanese Awabi Abalone earring you’ve been lusting for. You do want that earring, don’t you? Hey, I don‘t judge, I just observe.

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  1. Ben Ross Says:

    Great post. You should try to track down that guitar.


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