Sunday, May 24, 2015

"They Would Pick Him Up When He Fell." Rolling Stones Visit Gibson Guitar Factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1975


Keith Richards and Ron Wood tour the Gibson guitar factory July of 1975.
Like most of the small to medium sized rust belt burgs located within the inescapable gravitational pull of Detroit, auto manufacturing was a driving force in the economy of Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Until the mid-1990s, K-Zoo was home to both the Checker Motors Corporation and GM's two-million sq. foot Fisher Body stamping plant.) But, in a textbook example that odd dichotomy and attitude that defined the rust belt, Kalamazoo was also home to Gibson Guitar Factory--i.e., "yeah, wood or metal, strings or wheels, it don't matter much to us, we MAKE shit here." Founded as the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg Co. Ltd in the early 20th century, Gibson called 225 Parsons St. home until the move of its operations to Nashville was complete in 1984. A decade earlier, the Stones came to visit.
Gibson was owned by Norlin in '75, and in retrospect quality was at an all-time low. Ron Wood was still a relatively new Stone, and the band was slated to play COBO Hall on July 27 and 28. Keef was still living in 24/7 party mode.
Jump on over to MLive for the rest of the photos and the complete story.
As for the old factory on Parsons St.? It's still humming, turning out some of the finest quality instruments available today as the Heritage Guitar company.
(Photos Courtesy of WMU Archives and Regional History Collections)