UPDATE June 11th: The guitar has sold for £21,000, and was reported on by the BBC here. Sadly in 2023 we lost the great Ian Bairnson, the Scottish guitarist who played on many tracks on Kate’s first two albums and also backing vocals on Oh To Be In Love and beer bottles on Room For The Life. Later he recorded bass voices on the song Delius and went on to play guitar on Leave it Open from The Dreaming album. But, he is probably best known to fans for his iconic guitar solo on Wuthering Heights which closes out Kate’s hit single. Kate remembered Ian on her official site last year: “…he had a lovely, warm smile and he played the inspired solo on Wuthering Heights with a broken arm. He was still wearing the cast! He was in a lot of pain but soldiered on and like all great artists, he truly suffered for his art. Making my first album was pretty daunting and I was working with people I’d never met before. Ian was kind and supportive and that meant such a lot. Thank you, Ian.”

Ian Bairnson

The instrument responsible for that unforgettable solo, his 1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom 20th Anniversary electric guitar, manufactured in the USA, is now up for auction as part of a sale of Ian’s guitars he used during his amazing career. Ian also played this guitar on his band Pilot’s big 1970s hits Magic and January. The website Guitar Auctions will conduct the auction on 11th June 2024 with starting estimates valuing it at between £5,000-£10,000 (view Lot 269 on the Guitar Auctions site here)

From the catalogue description:

This guitar was purchased by Ian in 1974 from Take Five, Shaftesbury Avenue, London and was his main guitar from the beginning. The guitar features on work with Pilot, the Alan Parsons Project and Kate Bush, including her first four studio albums, most significantly used the solo of her debut chart topping single ‘Wuthering Heights’.

An excerpt from Ian’s website states “Guitar players broadly fall into two main groups – those who consider themselves as “Strat” players and those who are “Les Paul” type players. I have always loved Les Pauls. Ever since I was about fourteen years old I wanted to play one. I prefer the sheer power and kick of a Gibson Les Paul. I bought mine as soon as I could afford one. It came from a shop called Take Five in Shaftesbury Avenue in London and cost me 315 pounds in 1974. It is a Custom model but over the years I have changed bits and pieces and now it looks more like a Standard. I suppose it is true to say that I built a career using only a Les Paul and a Marshall fifty watt amplifier. I never plugged anything between the guitar and the amp. If we wanted effects on the sound, we used the studio effects. They are far better quality and besides … I couldn’t afford that kind of equipment. This guitar has been with me through everything from the early recordings – Pilot, Parsons Project, Kate Bush etc right up to “Time Machine” and Pilot’s “Blue Yonder” CD.”

“Ian Bairnson was a session guitarist before joining up with former Bay City Rollers’ David Paton and Billy Lyall to form the band Pilot in 1973, where he contributed the harmony guitar parts to their hit single ‘Magic’. During his time with Pilot, he first collaborated with the record producer Alan Parsons on their debit self-titled album and it was this relationship that helped incorporate most of the band’s members into the Alan Parsons Project. One distinctive guitar solo of note was on the track ‘I Wouldn’t Want to be Like You’ that featured in the 1977 film ‘I Robot’ From 1978, Bairnson started sessions with Kate Bush, recording guitars on her first four albums, ‘The Kick Inside’, ‘Lionheart’, ‘Never for Ever’ and ‘The Dreaming’. The most notable track was Kate Bush’s debut single ‘Wuthering Heights’, where he can be heard with this same guitar playing the solo towards the end of the song. Wuthering Heights stayed at the top of the UK charts for four weeks.” (view Lot 269 on the Guitar Auctions site here) We’ll leave the last word on this to Dr. Jones…