The sales of the Gibson Les Paul going significantly down, Gibson reacted in proposing a guitar having a reduced production cost. At the same moment they stopped the Les Paul Custom, which had been launched in 1954 in parallel of the Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. Introduced in 1961 as the new Gibson Les Paul, this flat-topped mahogany body double cutaway guitar was not of Les Paul’s taste and he asked to remove his name from that guitar line. So by 1963 this request was finally honoured and the nameplate changed.
This SG was owed by Rare Earth guitarist Ray Monette.
Ray on the acquisition of his loved SG:
"I was taking guitar lessons at Wellesby House of Music in Farmington, Michigan. Word spread that Les Paul was coming in to demonstrate his new line of guitars. This was in 1961 and of course we all showed up to meet Les and see the event. Surprisingly not more than 25 people came and we had a good chance to meet and talk to Les. What a Gentleman. It seemed like we had all the time in the world to spend with him. At any rate, I loved the white custom and the red SG both, but the cost of the Custom was beyond our means. I was only 14, playing clubs and weddings. So my dad purchased the guitar for me and I was to repay him.... At that time I had a Les Paul Jr and it was traded for the SG.
I played around and even taught guitar until 1965, when a good friend of mine, who visited Golden World Studio told me to grab an acoustic guitar and go down there with him. We went down and he introduced me to Mike Terry, a well know arranger and Mike asked me to play something for him. He seemed to like what he heard and told me to come back the next night for a session. Thank goodness I could read music because very few guitar players could. I was apprehensive and had no idea what I was getting into.
This is when I met Bob Babbitt, Johnny Griffith and George MacGregor of the Funk Brothers. The guys were so cool I couldn't but relax. We only cut one song that night .... Cool Jerk and the group was there singing it as we rehearsed it.
After that I played on just about all the hits that came out of Detroit, including Motown.Some of the last songs I played on were Holland, Dozier and Holland, when they left Motown, including Band of Gold and many others. Also, for 6 months the show ran, I played in the Detroit production of Hair. Then in October 1071 I joined the band Rare Earth. That was the end of my session carrier."
The SG was his main guitar and can be heard on nearly all the studio recordings. He changed the bridge as did many musicians in order to increase the playability of the SG. His Fender Strat which is also in our TYS collection was primarily used for live concerts.
Some stories about his SG guitar as told by Ray:
“In 1965 we had a band called Scorpion with Bob Babbitt, Andrew Smith, Mike Campbell and myself. We did an album with Tower records called Scorpion. The songs are on YouTube. We were also working in the Detroit production of Hair the musical, with all of us in the band and Mike acting in it. That's when I met Stoney and Meatloaf, who were also in the play. We had written and recorded 4 songs at Motown and we hooked Stoney and Meat up with Motown through Ralph Terrana.
We ended up giving them the 4 songs for their album. This was Meats 1st recording. “Kiss me again” was one of the songs and it's Scorpion playing with Mike and I singing background and has an extended guitar solo at the end. I used my acoustic 6 and 12 string and the electric is all the SG. Mike went on to become an actor and did movies and tv. His biggest role was in Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I think you might enjoy some of the cuts and once again all SG. Also, Johnny Griffith played grand on a couple of the songs (Funk Brother). His grand piano on "Take a look at yourself" is outstanding!! That album came out and the co.Tower...a sub. Of Capitol, went out of business within a month. Album never had a chance.
My solo on “Kiss me again” is quite memorable to me. That was a special night when I overdubbed it. We had been working on finishing the 4 songs for several nights before that and that was one of the finishing touches that needed to be done. I didn't even have the time to work anything out before hand. Just went out into the main room of the studio with my trusty SG and laid down that solo in one take.The room was darkened and the music just took me away. If there's any magic in the world, that was one of those moments. When I went back into the control room to listen back the other guys all had strange looks on their faces. I thought something was wrong, but of course it was just the opposite. They were all blown away. Now that 2 of the band members are gone, it's a moment i'll always remember.”
As per Wikipedia Ray started his career as a songwriter and musician in Detroit. In 1967 with a band called The Abstract Reality, a 45 rpm single "Love Burns Like A Fire Inside" was released. With Mike Campbell, Bob 'Babbitt' Kreinar and Andrew Smith he formed Scorpion. His name appears on Scorpion and Meat Loaf's debut album Stoney & Meatloaf (1971). For this recording, he cowrote four songs.In that same year, he played tenor guitar on "Evolution" by Dennis Coffey & the Detroit Guitar Band and played a guitar solo on Funkadelic's "I Got a Thing, You Got a Thing, Everybody's Got a Thing". He was a guitarist and singer of the Rare Earth from 1971 until 2004 (with a break around 1977). In 2010 he played on the Phil Collins album Going Back.
As a footnote to this post here’s a little insight into the influence of the musicianship of Ray Monette. When Phil Collins decided to record a full album of Motown and Soul classics he elected to put the Funk Brothers back together as his backing band and so it was that in 2010, Ray, after having received an out of the blue phone call from Phil, found himself in Geneva Switzerland along with his former band mates Bob Babbit and Eddie Willis, both luminaries in their own right, after completing the album the band with Phil left for the UK for TV work in London to promote the album & also to feature at the Montraux Jazz Festival.