Stephen Pollock: The guitar guy

Photo: Ian Nichols Photo: Ian Nichols

The Beatles’ appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” is to blame for Stephen Pollock’s love of music.

“I was nearly 14 and had no idea what I wanted to do with myself until February 9, 1964,” Pollock said. “That was the evening of the first Beatles “Ed Sullivan” appearance. I, like a million other boys and girls, was struck by a sort of lightning that evening, transfixed by the sight of The Beatles rocking out.” He bought a guitar and an amp from Sears with his paper route money and taught himself to play like George Harrison.

In 1986, he joined up with Bebe Buell (lead singer of the Gargoyles, Playboy centerfold in November 1974, and mother of Liv Tyler), and he played alongside music legends like Blue Oyster Cult, Debbie Harry, and Motorhead. He even signed the wall at CBGB after an opening gig for the Ramones.

These days, Pollock is content to play alongside his son, Nick, a singer/songwriter, and in two bands —a rock outfit called PTF (so named for the first initial of each band member’s last name) and a more mellow band called Collector’s Item. He’s also busy adding to his guitar and amp collection, which he began building in the late ’80s.

It tops out at more than 35 guitars and 15 amps, each chosen for Beatles-era accuracy.

“When I was just starting out, I could never afford gear like The Beatles used, but later in life I was able to and I started to collect,” he said. “For most of my career, I rarely had more than three guitars at once.”

Pollock finds most of his instruments on eBay, Craigslist, and Guitar Center, but said his favorites are ones he didn’t even pay for—a 1972 Rickenbacker bass his brother left him when he passed away, and a 1976 Gibson Firebird, which Buell gave him when he joined her band.

“Tremendous fun,” he said. “I had never been happier and that’s where I developed the passion for music, bands, and gear that I feel to this day.”