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Sir Paul McCartney is among a group of celebrities who have donated giant guitars to exhibitions in both America and England, to be auctioned off over the next few months.

The exhibitions are part of the Gibson GuitarTown Galas And Auctions being held in London and Austin, and feature both 10-foot-high and regular-sized guitars designed and signed by artists and musicians. The sculptures have been on show in the cities for 10 weeks, and will soon be removed in preparation for the auctions, which will benefit a variety of local charities.

“I just fancied playing a big guitar!” joked Sir Paul, who signed a sculpture designed by cartoonist Rosie Brooks entitled And The Crowd Goes Wild. "I think this one will hopefully catch the imagination of the public and whoever is going to buy it at the auction, and raise money for The Prince's Trust, the Teenage Cancer Trust, and Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy – which are all great charities."

GuitarTown London is an initiative of The Gibson Foundation, a division of Gibson Guitars that is dedicated to improving the quality of life through the support of arts, education, health and welfare, and environmental causes. It follows a similar event held in Nashville in 2005, which raised over $400,000 for local charities, and is coupled with an event currently being held in Austin, Texas. GuitarTown Austin features 65 giant sculptures and showcase guitars, which are currently on display in various locations around the city.

Celebrities such as Norah Jones, Willie Nelson, Jamie Foxx, Dennis Quaid, Lance Armstrong, and Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines have all contributed their signatures to the artworks, to be auctioned at a special event at the Austin Grand Atrium on October 17. Bidders will have the chance to attend the Gala evening or bid online, with all proceeds going to the Health Alliance For Austin Musicians, the Austin Museum For Art, American Youthworks, and the Austin Children’s Museum.

“This public arts project showcases the enormous talent of both Austin’s visual and musical artists in the community,” said Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Guitars. “I hope Austin GuitarTown strikes a chord in people’s souls.”

The London GuitarTown Gala and Auction will be held on November 8, in the Indigo Room at the O2 Dome, and the sculptures are currently on display at More London in South Bank. Other artists to have contributed to the 61 items include Rod Stewart, Katie Melua, Corinne Bailey Rae, KT Tunstall, the Kaiser Chiefs, Ozzy Osbourne, Slash, James Blunt, Cliff Richard, Mark Knopfler, and Roger Waters.

“It seems the electric guitar is here to stay,” said Brian May, guitarist for Queen, who has two works included in the auction. “Gibson GuitarTown London looks set to become a glorious testament to this fact, and will be raising money and awareness for three great charities. I’m proud to endorse its imminent success.”

More information on the exhibitions and auctions can be found at www.londonguitartown.com.

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