Spring/Summer 2011Published on April 01, 2011
“When I embarked on the Pinkburst Project three and one-half years ago on behalf of my daughter Samantha and her struggle with uveitis, I did it at first to raise much needed money for research and a cure. I didn't realize where that journey would take me.” says Jay Jay French, founder and lead guitarist of Twisted Sister."
Samantha’s struggle goes all the way back to 2001. She has been on five different cycles of immunosuppressive therapy over the last 10 years. This past year, Samantha
was put on Humira, one of the newer drugs, that is injected every two weeks by a doctor just above the hip. So far, she has reacted very well to this and her eyes are 'clear' of any inflammation. Thanks to early detection and proper treatment, Samantha stands a good chance of maintaining her normal sight for the rest of her life.
“The Pinkbust Project” is a collection of custom Gibson, Fender, Gretsch, Epiphone, Paul Reed Smith, Roukangas and Martin guitars and custom Fender, Marshall, Vox, Mesa, Orange, Hartke and Diamond amplifiers built to raise awareness and fund ongoing research, education and support for The Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation."
Jay Jay commissioned the custom shops of the world's top electric guitar makers to replicate the color and style of his pink sunburst Gibson Les Paul. To anyone even remotely involved with this industry, this dream would seem completely unrealistic as all these companies are highly competitive and many have even sued each other over the slightest attempt at copying anything that the other was doing. “It really meant that I was asking Fender, Paul Reed Smith, Epiphone, Gretsch, and Martin to put aside their differences for something for the greater good,” says Jay Jay.
It took three years, many conversations, multiple dinners and hundreds of miles logged. In the end, most of the leading guitar luthiers in the world each created custom models specifically for The Pinkburst Project: Gibson, Fender, Gretsch,
Epiphone, Paul Reed Smith, Roukangas and Martin.
Getting the amplifier companies involved was an entirely different story.The material that covers each amp is called tolex, and the covering of each amp company is unique to that company. Through several contacts and years, Jay Jay was finally able to connect to the president of Kayline Industries, the maker of most of the tolex that you see covering most every amplifier. The president, Harley Hoffman, was “one of the nicest people you could ever talk to.”
Hoffman personally contacted Fender, Marshall, Vox, Mesa, Orange, Hartke and Diamond on behalf of the Project. He had made a small amount of tolex for a project for Marshall that did not develop. It was magenta in color and Hoffman thought it
would be perfect for the Pinkburst Project. Turns out, there was just enough to cover the amp collection. Because no guitar and amp collection is complete without the accessories, TKL made custom guitar cases, Red Monkey made custom Straps, and IN Tune made custom picks.