Interview: Jim Peterik Discusses His New 2018 Calendar, ‘Guitars That Followed Me Home’
Photo courtesy: www.jimpeterik.com and used with permission

Grammy winning singer/ songwriter/ guitarist Jim Peterik (Ides Of March, formerly of Survivor and 38 Special fame) is ringing in the new year with a calendar guaranteed to make any guitar aficionado’s mouth water. Peterik’s 2018 Calendar, aptly titled “Guitars That Followed Me Home” features twelve months of high res photos containing some of the guitarists most valuable guitars and the stories behind them.

Uniquely organized in groups, each guitar paints a picture of the past as well as showcases Peterik’s love of vintage instruments.

“Guitars That Followed Me Home” is available at most book stores, mall kiosks and on Amazon & Chicago Music Exchange this holiday season.

AXS recently spoke with Jim Peterik about his new calendar, guitars and more in this new interview.

AXS: When did your passion for collecting guitars begin?

Jim Peterik: I didn't really start by collecting, I started by not selling anything [laughs]. At the time, I didn't even know I was collecting. All I know is that I couldn't part with the guitar that I had and then I bought another one. I wasn’t trying to corner the market on Strats, Jazz Masters, Jaguars, 335’s or Les Pauls. I just love those guitars, and I never buy anything that I don't love.

AXS: Where did the idea of doing a calendar about your collection begin?

JP: Everyone who comes over to my house is always blown away by the guitars and the amount that I have. Right now, I have just under two-hundred. I thought about doing a coffee table book someday but then realized that everyone needs a calendar. With every month, I describe each guitar and tell a story behind it.

AXS: Are all the guitars in the calendar collector’s items?

JP: Not all the guitars are super valuable. Some are ones I just have a passion for, like the Minariks. They’re a small company on the west coast that built a guitar called the Inferno, which has sort of become my trademark guitar on stage.

AXS: In your opinion, what makes vintage instruments better?

JP: Any brand-new Gibson Les Paul or Fender Stratocaster sounds great right out of the case, but there's something in the aging process that helps everything. The wood gets dried and more resonant and even the pickups mellow out and get better. It’s like fine wine. When I go on the road, I’ll take the new instruments and they sound fantastic. But if I’m in studio and doing something serious I want to pick up a ‘54 Strat of ‘58 Les Paul, because they just record and sound better.

AXS: There’s a beautiful shot of some of your Gibson Les Pauls featured for one of the months. What can you tell me about it?

JP: I have the Les Pauls in front of a portrait of Jimmy Page on stage with Robert Plan along with a beautiful SG double neck in white and one of my most valuable guitars: a 1958 Black Beauty in mint condition with all of the “case candy” (tags, original strap, bill of sale and the warranty card). I also have my daisy Les Paul Gold Top which is the guitar I played “Vehicle” on.

AXS: You mentioned about how you don’t like to part with your guitars, but you did sell a 1958 Les Paul that you later regretted. What was your reason for selling it?

JP: It's a long story, but it was a bad time for the music business around 1990 and I kind of panicked. At the time, I thought we were at the top of the market, so I cashed in and wound up getting a whole whopping $22,000 for it. It’s a sad story because it’s worth about $250,000 now [on a bad day]. It was a Beauty in mint condition. I still have some really bad Polaroids of it that I don’t even look at anymore because they make me feel sick [laughs].

AXS: Can you tell me the story of how you acquired your 1958 Gibson Korina Flying V?

JP: I was with Survivor at the time working on our Premonition record. I used to haunt the stores in L.A. and one day I saw it, played it and knew that I had to have it. It was $6,000, so I put it on down payment. I finally paid it off and picked it up and it's never left my side. It's an amazing guitar that I still record with and has a sound like no other.

AXS: How about your 1954 Fender Stratocaster, which was one of the first ever made?

JP: There was a salesman at a music store in Chicago in 1978 who always knew I was on the lookout. He called me one day and said, "I just took this guitar in. It’s got this old brown case with it and I think it could be worth something.” So, I go in and open the case and knew exactly what it was: A Tobacco Burst Fender Stratocaster with serial #0557. I walked out with the guitar. That Strat, along with my ’65 Candy Apple Red, are the best Strats in my arsenal.

AXS: Are there any other projects you’re currently working on right now?

JP: I’ve recently released a fantastic album I produced and wrote/co-wrote with Marc Scherer and Jennifer Batten called BattleZone. Most of the songs are from my catalog that I wrote many years ago but never got the right attention. There are also three new songs on the album as well and we’re very excited about it. I'm also writing for a new Ides of March album and am glad to be writing with Dennis DeYoung (formerly of Styx) as well. We're got about seven songs written so far and it’s a good balance of both of our styles. It’s an interesting blend.

AXS: What’s the best bit of advice you can give to someone who’s interested in getting into the hobby?

JP: There are so many people who will take advantage of you, so only deal with reputable dealers.  If you don’t know what you’re doing, then stay away from the wild frontier and go to places like Chicago Music Exchange or those listed in vintage guitar magazines and get in good rapport with the owner or top salesmen. They'll treat you right. The second thing is to always buy the best condition guitar you can afford. The closer to mint, the more valuable the guitar’s going to be in the long run.