By Jesse Wood
Aug. 27, 2014. Wayne Henderson, a world-class guitar builder and a fine picker, too, will be at the Watauga County Library on Friday, Sept. 5, to sign copies of “Clapton’s Guitar: Watching Wayne Henderson Build the Perfect Instrument” and speak to those in attendance.
The event starts at 10:30 a.m. and is expected to last at least an hour, Watauga County Librarian Monica Caruso said. Copies of the book will be on sale at the library.
“Clapton’s Guitar,” authored by Allen St. John, is Appalachian State University’s 2014 Common Reading Program selection, and Henderson is also the fall convocation speaker at ASU on Thursday, Sept. 4. Fall convocation will take place at the Holmes Convocation Center at 10 a.m.
The public is welcome to attend both events.
In a press release from ASU, Associate Professor Colin Ramsey, who directs Appalachian’s Common Reading Program, said the “book was selected for its focus on the region’s music, crafts, folklore, storytelling, and other aspects of Appalachian culture.”
Henderson is from Rugby, Va., and has built guitars for Doc Watson, Peter Rowan, Gillian Welch and, of course, Eric Clapton.
In an interview that is posted on a YouTube, Henderson said that he had a friend who owned one of his guitars and was promoting some new recording equipment for Clapton in New York years ago. (See the video here that includes audio of Clapton talking about Henderson’s guitar.)
“I told him if you get to see him, Eric Clapton, why don’t you show him my guitar I built for you. I just wanted him to see it and it turned out he really liked it,” Henderson said. “He really brags on it, and he said he would love to get one.”
It’s well known that Henderson has a 10-year waiting list for his celebrated guitars, and Henderson didn’t treat Clapton any different.
“The way I operate, if you don’t remind me and keep after me, I almost never make ‘em guitars,” Henderson said.
Caruso, who said she is halfway through the book, said the author gets to know Henderson over a period of time with the objective to speed up the process of getting Clapton’s guitar built.
“It’s a lot of humor and local culture,” Caruso said.
In 1995, Henderson received the National Heritage Award, which is presented by the National Endowment for the Arts. That same here, he established the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition, which has provided more than $116,000 in scholarships to local, youth musicians.