Bass player extraordinaire Robert Kearns, a veteran of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cry of Love, and longtime bassist in Sheryl Crow’s redoubtable band, dropped by Epiphone’s headquarters in Nashville, TN recently so our R&D team could set up a few of his favorite vintage Epiphone basses while Sheryl and the group are on tour with The Eagles. The first three cases Kearns opened included a rare hollowbody and two lovingly worn Thunderbirds, one belonging to the late great Allen Woody.
“There was a time you could get a lot of these on ebay for around $300,” said Kearns as he laid out the instruments in the Epiphone showroom including the early 70s EA-260 made in Japan. “They just looked so cool. The EA-260 is great if you’re going for a flat wound sound—like Paul McCartney. It’s great for recording, too.”
Kearn has been a big fan of Epi basses going back to his early days in Cry of Love and has been a regular visitor at Epiphone to check out the Masterbilt Century Archtop De Luxe Classic 4-string
as well as the new Embassy PRO
Kearns next tuned up an early Epiphone Thunderbird with a sunburst finish made in Korea he used while playing for Lynyrd Skynyrd. “Somebody switched the name tag on it and the pickups as well but it sounds good. Leon Wilkeson (original Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist) played a real non-reverse. But those things go for about $9,000. So, I took this one the road and took it out when we played ‘Freebird’ (laughs).”
Kearns next passed around his other Thunderbird. “This one I got from a guy that worked down in the Allman Brothers’ “big house” (the band’s original headquarters and former museum) in Macon and they gave this to him for some work he did. I found out later the bass actually belonged to Allen Woody.” Woody, a founding member of Gov’t Mule, was one of modern Epiphone’s first new signature artists and his Allen Woody Rumblekat is still a fan and artist favorite. “I miss him,” said Kearns. “I knew him from way back. I also knew Warren Haynes since the 80s being from North Carolina. I got to know Allen and Warren and I used to go see Gov’t Mule at their first gigs. Back then, there wouldn’t be hardly a 100 people in the audience.”
Kearns strummed his rare 1970s Epiphone PR-715 12-string (“I hadn’t played this thing in two years and it’s still in tune!”
) while discussing the Sheryl Crow Band’s upcoming date with the Eagles at Wembley Arena with more dates to follow.
“I’ll take the Jack Casady for those shows. That’s the one I’ve had since 2007—it’s the one I used on David Letterman. I’ve been enjoying the Embassy, too.” Kearns is especially looking forward to spending time with Eagles guitarist and James Gang founder Joe Walsh. “We’re doing some new material from Sheryl’s album including a duet with Joe Walsh. Joe is going to play guitar with us on that song but I get to sing Joe’s harmony parts. And I might use the Embassy for that –it sounds great. But my main bass is still the Jack Casady. For my money and for my ear, I think the Jack Casady is one of the best sounding production basses out there
. I just love it."
Visit Sheryl’s website
for more info and don’t forget to read our classic interview with Rober
t. See your Authorized Epiphone Dealer for info on our new Epiphone Thunderbird Classic IV PRO
as well as the original Allen Woody Rumbleka