Why is The War on Drugs' Anthony LaMarca selling his guitar? - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
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Anthony LaMarca | photo by Lisa Businovski | courtesy of the artist

Many musicians scan the likes of Craigslist on a daily basis, seeing what kinds of instruments and gear pop up around their city. For musicians in the Youngstown, Ohio, area, one 1969 Fender Jaguar stands out. And it’s not just because of it’s worn, vintage beauty.

It’s because it belongs to War on Drugs guitarist/keyboardist Anthony LaMarca. LaMarca plans to donate all of the money received from the guitar to those affected by Multiple Myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer that he has been receiving treatment for. The idea to donate his own possessions came from a chance phone call he received.

“About a year ago, I found out I had Multiple Myeloma,” LaMarca says. “I went through that whole process of, like, figuring out what that meant, doing treatment and all that stuff. And everything’s been going great health-wise with that. One day I get a call out of the blue from this lady named Bridget Gaugler. Her husband had Multiple Myeloma and died a year ago. And the last few years of his life they had a golf outing here in Youngstown to raise some money so they could help pay for medical bills and help themselves out. And it was really successful. Then, when he died, they decided to keep doing the golf outing and use that money to help other families with Multiple Myeloma, specifically in Youngstown.”

Gaugler called the treatment center where LaMarca had been receiving treatment and asked for two names of people who were battling Multiple Myeloma they could support.

“It was just sort of this really awesome act of kindness,” LaMarca says. “I had never met them before, but they just came over one night, her and her brother, who sort of organizes the whole thing. It was just awesome to see them doing this. And now they’re about to do the golf outing next weekend.”

It inspired LaMarca to get involved and help people the same way Gaugler helped him.

“So this year, I was like, I’m going to try to figure out a way that I can help them out as well,” he says. “So the idea of selling the guitar came to mind because that specific guitar was a gift to me from a friend. So I’ve had this awesome guitar that was given to me, so I’ve always felt like this wasn’t really mine to keep forever. At some point, I’m going to want to give it away to someone else to keep that tradition of, like, passing on this guitar. So I though this would be a cool way to do that, you know, even though it’s not really giving it away, but still trying to pass it on in a way that’s not just selling it.”

So far, he hasn’t received any bites on the ad he posted on Reverb.com, but he’s posted Craigslist ads in the surrounding areas, like Pittsburgh and Columbus.

“That’s a lot of money for a guitar,” he says. “And, obviously, I’m not, like, a well-known guitar player by any stretch of the imagination. Some would argue that I’m not a guitar player by any stretch of the imagination.”

However, this guitar has some experience in it. It’s toured with LaMarca since he received it in 2009, and he’s used it for playing live and recording with the War on Drugs. Before that, it belonged to French guitarist Thomas Semence, who used it with Jean-Louis Aubert of the band Telephone.

LaMarca says he’s eager to help out in the future to benefit other people in his community battling Multiple Myeloma.

“It’s something that, obviously, has affected my life in a big way,” he says. “And I see how doing things like this can affect people’s lives really positively in a big way. So, yeah, it’s definitely been something that, given the opportunity, I’d absolutely love to keep doing.”

He just might not be selling any more guitars any time soon.

“I would have to get some more guitars to do this again,” he says, laughing. “Because after I sell this, I’m down to just my main guitar, a Grestch that I have, which would be very hard for me to sell.”

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