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1951 Fender Telecaster


This guitar is in our Hall of Fame Collection and is no longer available for purchase.

For your consideration, Garrett Park Guitars presents this 1951 Fender Telecaster.

One of the earliest Telecasters ever made with neck dated 9/27/1951 & body dated 9/14/1951.

Lightweight at 6 pounds 6.8 ounces and with volumes of provenance, this is one amazingly cool Telecaster.

Serial number-1838


As told by Tony Bellamy, Tommy Bellamys son...

Tommy W. Bellamy, Sr. was born in February 1922 in White City, Texas. His father, and
later stepfather, worked at sawmills from Texas to Louisiana, to Hardeeville, South Carolina. He
learned at an early age how to handle himself. Due to his small stature, he would carry around
a butcher knife to defend himself from bigger kids. He was later known as “Butcher Tom” and
never had another problem. While living in Hardeeville, SC, he would hop a freight train to
Savannah, GA to play at juke joints! He was offered a job playing mandolin at 12-years-old with
Hank Snow, but his mother wouldn’t let him go. He moved to Swainsboro, GA around 1936 for
his step-father to work at a sawmill there. He would play community dances and juke joints. He
had long blonde hair, dark skin, and a leather wrist band. With the local parents being scared he
was going to hurt their kids, he switched from the butcher knife to an icepick – Easier to
conceal! He got to where he could throw it and hit a fly on the wall. My mother met him when
he was playing guitar and fell in love with this bad boy from Texas. He was 15 and she was 13!
They met at the movie theater every Saturday. When he was 17 and she was 15, he told her if
she married him, he would take her to the movies every day! They eloped to South Carolina and
came back home to tell her 6’5” father. He told him he had to support his new wife so he
proposed a new business – A dairy business, 50/50! Pa-in-law furnished the cows and the land
while Dad did the labor. He had to herd and milk 250 cows twice a day. Being a dairy farmer, he
was exempt from military service, but he was so sick of those cows and his Pa-in law, he
volunteered to go to combat. He was sent straight to the Battle of the Bulge. He then fought in
the Battle of the Colmar Pocket and was the 2 nd American to enter the Battle of Herrlisheim. He
also crossed the Rhine with General Patton. He was in the 12 th armored, 17th infantry batallion,
Co. B. On Easter Sunday in 1945, a German plane dropped a bomb on him. He woke up days
later in a French hospital and was later awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. While in
combat, he always had a guitar in the halftrack. After the war, he was stationed with a railroad
battalion in Paris. He played music all around but didn’t talk much about that, lol! When he got
home, he went right back to the dairy. By 1951, he was DONE. He decided to go to Texas to
meet up with some friends to play music. He went to Jay’s Music Store in Augusta, GA to get
new strings for his Gibson. Jay said, “I want you to try this new guitar.” Dad responded with
“that’s a piece of wood!” however, Jay convinced him to try it. Dad traded in his Gibson for the
new Telecaster and amp. His cousin in Houston owned a record label named Stella Records and
she got them an audition at the Beach Corral in Velasco, TX. When the 10-piece orchestra took
a break, the 4 of them went on and the orchestra quit. All of the big stars of the day would
come sing and play there – Bob Wells, Tex Ridder, Merle Travis, Floyd Tillman, Hank Thompson,
Audry Williams, and many more! Merle even played Dad’s guitar one night and told the story of
how he helped Leo Fender design the Telecaster. With Pa-in-law missing his grandkids, he
offered to build a drive-in theater on halves if they would move back to Swainsboro. So they
returned to Georgia and Pa furnished the cornfield to build the drive-in. Dad used the G.I. Bill to
borrow the money to purchase the equipment, building, the screen, and put it all together! Pa-
in-law got him again! The kids ran the theater while he continued to play music locally. The
Peach State Jamboree was based in the Nancy Auditorium in Swainsboro, GA. It was owned by
Web Pierce and any newcomer that wanted to play the Opry had to first appear at the
Jamboree! Dad played with a lot of those folks, including Hank Williams, Jr., Brenda Lee, and
others. He finally took over the Highway 56-Drive-in theater when it started making money. He
played guitar every day of his life until he developed Alzheimer’s. He was truly a Guitar Man! A

great one at that. P.S. – my mother ended up going to the movies every day of her life. LOL. Oh,
and those pictures of him playing, you can bet there was a pistol in his pocket and a P-38 in the
guitar case.


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