By Dean Murray

The guitar Eric Clapton used to write ‘Wonderful Tonight’ is up for auction – complete with cigarette burns.

The 1974 000-28 Martin acoustic is estimated to fetch £300,000 – 400,000 in the Bonhams Knightsbridge sale.

The auction house say the instrument was Slowhand’s primary guitar during the seventies, quoting the musician as saying “that guitar went everywhere with me”.

Bonhams says: “He used it extensively for writing, recording, and live performances until parting ways with it for a charitable auction in 1999 in aid of his Crossroads Centre.

“Reflecting on how much this guitar meant to him personally, Clapton said, “During the auction, the guys were all around me, and I felt myself starting to cry.””

Two signature Clapton’s elements stand out on this guitar: a sticker on its side, which reads “She’s in Love with a Rodeo Man” to honour one of Clapton’s favourite songwriters, Don Williams.

The second Clapton touch resulted from wedging his cigarettes under the strings, leaving trademark burns on the headstock.

Claire Tole-Moir, Head of Bonhams Popular Culture department, commented: “This guitar is a one-of-a-kind collectible of immense cultural significance. Written in 1976 by Clapton while waiting for his then-girlfriend (and future wife) Pattie Boyd to get ready for a night out, the song ‘Wonderful Tonight’ is an ageless anthem.

“With intergenerational appeal, the song’s popularity has grown since its release four decades ago, with more than 450 million streams on Spotify, 490 million views across YouTube, and billions of plays on terrestrial radio.”

The song debuted on Clapton’s second most popular album, Slowhand, which itself has been streamed 1.3 billion times as of April 2024.

Bonhams add the guitar has remained in the current owner’s possession since 1999.

The instrument will be offered as part of the Rock, Pop & Film sale on 12 June at Bonhams Knightsbridge, London.

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