Jay Jay French Announces The Pinkburst Project

One-of-a-Kind Collection of Gibson, Fender, Paul Reed Smith, Epiphone, Gretsch and Martin Custom Guitars and Marshall, Fender, Vox, Mesa, Orange, Hartke and Diamond Custom Amps to Benefit Research for Uveitis, the Leading Cause of Blindness in American Girls

Benefit Concert Friday, April 29 at Best Buy Theater in Times Square Featuring Twisted Sister & Friends
Auction To Be Held Sunday, May 1, 2011 at Skinner Auctioneers in Boston, Massachusetts

24 January 2010, New York, NY: Jay Jay French today announced The Pinkburst Project, a collection of custom made guitars and amplifiers that have been built to both create awareness for The Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation and be sold at auction to help raise funds for research, education and support for those affected by Uveitis and other inflammatory eye diseases. Uveitis is the leading cause of blindness among American girls.

The Pinkburst Project one-of-a-kind collection includes custom made guitars from Gibson, Fender, Paul Reed Smith, Epiphone, Gretsch and Martin and custom amps from Marshall, Fender, Vox, Mesa, Orange, Hartke and Diamond. All will be offered for sale at auction during the Skinner Fine Musical Instruments Auction on Sunday, May 1, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts

A benefit concert, “The Pinkburst Project. An Evening with Twisted Sister and Friends benefiting the Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation” will take place on Friday, April 29 at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square. Tickets are $45 with an American Express presale on Wednesday, January 26 and onsale to the public on Friday, January 28 via Ticketmaster.com, Charge by phone 800.745.3000, and at the Best Buy Theater box office (no service charge) located at 1515 Broadway at W. 44th Street, 212.930.1950.

French states, “The Pinkburst Project was my way of calling attention to the virtually unknown disease called Uveitis. In a world of cookie-cutter fundraisers, I wanted to do something that was different and really exciting, something that would get lots of attention with collectors of musical instruments, something never done before (and probably never again) and something that could hopefully raise a lot of money.”

French commissioned the custom shops of the world's top guitar electric 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 French.

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 amp companies involved was a whole other story.

The material that covers each amp is called tolex, and covering of each amp company is unique to that company.

Through several contacts and years, Jay Jay finally got to the president of Kayline Industries, the maker of most of the tolex that you see covering most every amplifier. The guy, 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 colour 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, IN Tune made custom picks.

The purpose of the Pinkburst Project is to bring awareness and to help fund research for a cure of a disease called Uveitis. Uveitis is an inflammatory eye disease. Think of it as getting, "arthritis of the eyes."

Uveitis is the third leading cause of preventable blindness in the USA, and the leading cause of blindness of American girls. Jay Jay’s daughter, Samantha was found to have it at age six when a routine eye exam at school detected the possibility of something not so routine.

Samantha's sight has been preserved through a cocktail of topical and systemic medications that her physician, Dr. Stephen Foster and his associated doctors at MERSI (Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution) in Cambridge, Massachusetts have carefully administered. It is Dr. Foster and his Foundation that will reap the benefit of this auction.

Dr. Foster states, “I am extremely grateful to Jay Jay for bringing the much needed attention to Uveitis and the work of the Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation. Ocular Immunology is not a particularly glamorous field, and few ophthalmologists choose to enter it. As a result, few ocular immunologists exist, and so many patients with uveitis and other forms of eye inflammation continue to be treated with 1950’s standard of care while much more effective and safer strategies exist today. The result is that far more people are eventually blinded by eye inflammation than should occur.”

Samantha has been on five different cycles of chemo drugs over the last 10 years. All are toxic and have to be monitored constantly to look for liver damage. One of the drugs, Remicade, which costs up to thousands of dollars per dose and has to be administered intravenously over many hours, every four to 12 weeks for a minimum of two years. This past year, Samantha was put on a new drug, Humira 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. If she stays clear, she will be weaned off it in August 2012 and at that time, we will know if her body has become able to fight off the inflammation of her eyes on its own as all 'normal' immune systems do. Thanks to early detection and treatment, Samantha stands a good chance of maintaining her normal sight for the rest of her life.

Skinner, Inc., will present the instruments, amplifiers, and accessories of the Pinkburst Project at the Skinner Fine Musical Instruments Auction on Sunday, May 1, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Skinner is pleased to collaborate with Jay Jay French and Dr. Stephen Foster to support The Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation by offering a unique venue for the presentation and sale of this one-of-a-kind collection of guitars, amplifiers, and accessories.

The entire collection can be viewed online at www.pinkburstproject.org and will appear in Skinner’s catalog and auction previews in April 2011.

The Pinkburst Project is dedicated to the research, education and support of those affected by Uveitis, the leading cause of blindness among American girls. Founded by Twisted Sister’s Jay Jay French, the Pinkburst Project is also 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 ultimately fund ongoing research, education and support for The Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation. Created by Twisted Sister’s Jay Jay French, The Pinkburst Project custom collection of guitars and amplifiers will be offered for sale through Skinner Auctioneers Fine Musical Instruments Department on Sunday, May 1, 2011. http://www.pinkburstproject.org/

The Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation is a 501c(3) national non- profit organization dedicated to finding cures for ocular inflammatory diseases, erasing the worldwide deficit of properly trained ocular immunologists, and providing education and emotional support for those patients afflicted with ocular inflammatory disease. http://www.uveitis.org

Skinner, Inc., a leader in the sale of fine and antique musical instruments at auction, With galleries in Boston and Marlborough, Mass., Skinner is a leading full-service auctioneer and appraiser of antiques and fine art.

David Bonsey, Director of the Fine Musical Instrument department for Skinner oversees the growing demand for Skinner's auction and appraisal services within the professional musician community. David came to Skinner in 1999 bringing a varied background of experience and two decades in the musical instrument market with him. As a violinmaker and a guitarist, he is well versed in every aspect of this market and is widely known among professional musicians. His education includes a bachelor's degree in guitar from the Berklee College of Music, and private study in violin making in Cremona, Italy. He is a member of the Violin Society of America and serves as auctioneer for the VSA Scholarship Fund Auction. He is a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers and a committed participant in the annual Professional Violin Maker's Workshop at Oberlin College.

John Peden PhotographyDon Waller Interactives