When the Greek fiddle and oud maker Anastasios Stathopoulos immigrated with his family to America, he 
couldn’t have imagined the role that the instrument company he started in Long Island City, Queens, would play
 in defining the amplified sounds of rock, country and jazz. After all, those great, distinctly American musical
 genres came into vogue in the decades after his death in 1915. Nor could he have foreseen the empire or the
 legacy that his son Epaminondas – also known as “Epi” – would begin building using the House of Stathopoulos shop as a foundation, evolving from building popular mandolins and banjos to electric jazz guitars.
Today the Epiphone brand, under the Gibson company umbrella, still builds many of the classic models that
 helped shape the sound of American music, albeit occasionally in the hands of British musicians.
To illuminate some of the Epiphone legacy, here is a look at some epic Epiphone models, paired with some of 
their most outstanding musical exemplars:
George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney made this legendary hollowbody famous
while all three were Beatles. With a rich, bold tone and a versatile nature, the Casino served
 Lennon from Revolver through his solo years, including the Plastic Ono Band’s Live Peace in 
Toronto. Nonetheless, Beatles bassist McCartney was the first Beatle to acquire a Casino,
buying a 1962 model four years after it was built.

Two versions of Lennon’s 1965 Casino are produced today. One is finished in sunburst, as the
guitar appeared when it was originally acquired by Lennon, and the other wears a natural
finish to evoke the instrument as Lennon had it modified. Both come with Gibson USA P-90
The Beatles used the Casino to produce feedback and generate the grinding chords of
 “Taxman,” the psychedelic lead breaks of “Tomorrow Never Knows” and the musical hook of
 “See Said She Said,” proving its utilitarian nature.
Keith Richards also played a Casino on The Rolling Stones’ first tour of the States in 1964, and
 Brian Jones used one to play Howlin’ Wolf’s blues hit “Little Red Rooster” on The Ed Sullivan 
Show a year later. Other Casino-playing notables include U2’s The Edge, Dave Davies of The
Kinks and smooth jazz/R&B kingpin Phil Upchurch.
McCartney put this acoustic model on the map, using his 1964 Texan to record and perform
 “Yesterday” and many other Beatles and solo compositions. Gibson’s Montana acoustic
instrument shop began building a Paul McCartney 1964Texan, earlier this year, reproducing
 that famed flat top box. Today’s Texans come with preamps and under-the-bridge pickups.

The Texan is appreciated for its crisp, even tone and was played by Graham Nash during his 
tenure in The Hollies and his early days in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, by Jimi Hendrix,
 and by the influential folkies Tom Rush and Bert Jansch. But the Texan also played a role in 
the popularization of grunge when Kurt Cobain slung one around his neck on Nirvana’s 1993-94 
In Utero tour.

A product of the big band era, the Emperor Regent was a response to the need for bigger and
louder arch-top hollowbody guitars that could compete with horn sections. Les Paul was an
early proponent of the Regent and played one during his tenure in Fred Warning’s
Pennsylvanians, his first high-profile gig, before designing his namesake model. Modern jazz
giant Joe Pass used a signature model Regent II as his main axe.

Today a modified version of the Regent II with a whammy bar and twin Epiphone SwingBucker
pickups is made by Epiphone under the Emperor Swingster name, evoking classic rockabilly
six-strings. And the Swingster Royale is an upgraded version of that guitar with gold hardware
 and other toney appointments.
Sheraton II
If you’re trying to conjure the singular sound of the great bluesman John Lee Hooker, try a
vintage Sheraton or a contemporary Sheraton II. Those models were the basic building blocks
 of his bad, bad boogie.
The Sheraton was created in 1959 during the Epiphone Company’s early days of Gibson
stewardship as a less expensive alternative to the Gibson ES-335. The Sheraton II is
differentiated from the Sheraton by its more efficient stop tailpiece, replacing the original’s
trapeze-style butt. And with a warm-but-aggressive semi-hollowbody sound and chunky necks,
 Sheratons proved irresistible to  Hooker and other budget-conscious blues players.

Today the model also has a home in the cutting edge of modern rock. Ezra Koenig of Vampire
Weekend, Matthew Followill of Kings of Leon and Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups all play
 Sheraton IIs.
In the 1960s, the Wilshire was Epiphone’s first entry into the solidbody guitar market.
 Wilshires were played by Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend, among others. Townshend used
 a 1961 model on stage with his pre-Who group The Detours that he bought from Roger Daltrey
 on an installment plan. Today Gibson’s Custom Shop makes an exacting reissue of the white
1962 model of this double-P-90-equipped tone machine.
Sometimes known as the Emperor Zephyr Regent, the Zephyr is the forerunner of the Emperor.
 The first Zephyrs were non-electric, and even when equipped with pickups, they were fat 
bodied and lacked cutaways, which is why the Emperor quickly surpassed them in popularity. 
Nonetheless, the guitar’s mettle was proven in 1946 when the gypsy jazz innovator Django 
Reinhardt made his only tour of the U.S. – as a member of Duke Ellington’s band – with a
 Regent in his arms.

Epi Zephyr Blues Regent natural


This model is part of Epiphone’s historic line of jazz guitars. The Broadway is essentially a
variation on the Emperor with two full-sized humbucking pickups and a three-way selector
switch and speed dial array duplicating the classic Gibson Les Paul configuration. The guitar’s
 leading player today is bluesman Duke Robillard, who uses his Broadway on stage and in the
studio. In addition to his many solo albums and pioneering swing-revival recordings as the
 leader of Roomful of Blues, Robillard’s resume includes work with Bob Dylan and Tom Waits.