The Gibson Flying V is one of the most distinctive and recognizable electric guitars ever made. We're celebrating its history with the below gallery featuring many rockers who have played one, including Eddie Van Halen, Keith Richards and Tom Petty.

As Guitar Aficionado notes, its look was Gibson's attempt to come up with a Modernist answer to the Fender Stratocaster. In 1956, Gibson president Ted McCarty commissioned some new designs, and the Flying V was the only one that survived the process intact.

A patent was issued on Jan. 7, 1958, and it quickly became a favorite with blues stars Albert King and Lonnie Mack. King, in particular, liked it because, as a lefty, he could turn it upside down and it would look the same. But it originally didn't sell very well and was quickly discontinued.

Then Dave Davies of the Kinks picked one up on a U.S. tour in 1965 when his only guitar was lost by an airline. Appearing with the Flying V on television brought exposure to the instrument, and it was reissued in 1966 with a few modifications to its design. Still, even with Richards playing one at the Rolling Stones' famous Hyde Park show in 1969 and Jimi Hendrix – who was heavily influenced by King – having one custom-made, the Flying V failed to sell in big numbers and production ceased in 1970.

They tried again in the mid-'70s and, this time, it caught hold with hard rock acts overseas, thanks to Michael Schenker of Scorpions and UFO, Marc Bolan of T. Rex and Bad Company's Mick Ralphs, and it hasn't been out of production since. The Flying V later became synonymous with '80s metal thanks to Metallica's James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, a huge Schenker fan.

Check below to see some of rock's most famous guitarists with a Gibson Flying V.

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