As the band took their first steps towards superstardom and began a lifetime of incessant touring, Gene relied exclusively on his custom LoBue. Naturally it was also the weapon of choice for the early TV appearances like ABC's In Concert and the Mike Douglas Show. I could literally fill an entire web site with hundereds of photos of Gene playing the LoBue over the course of 1974, but these three will suffice.
The band spent the better part of August in Village Recorder recording Hotter Than Hell and here we have to be grateful. During these recordings somebody stole Paul's custom LoBue V (and most likely some backup guitars) but Gene's custom LoBue eluded the thieves. Having completed the recordings the band were back on the road again in September. And then, a problem. At the wonderfully named venue Thunder Chicken in Comstock Park, Michigan, something went wrong with Gene's trusted companion. There is a suite of photos from that night that allow us to see how Gene starts the show with the LoBue but at some time during the set J.R. Smalling appears with the backup Fender Precision and readies it for use. Gene closes the show with the P-bass while J.R. stays seated at the side of the stage with the LoBue.
The issue proved short-lived. Although Gene had to rely on the Fender P-bass for a few shows, and had to bring it out briefly during a few more, the LoBue was back to its place as Gene's clear number one in about a week.
But something was still wrong and in early December the LoBue got patched up. Based on a couple of high-resolution photos I don't think this is a new pickup, rather, it's the old pickup that's been secured using gaffer's tape. It can be seen as a silvery kind of "frame" in some photos. In some closeups in very high-resolution photos it looks as if the "frame" is almost completely flush to the pickguard and in some cases one can actually see the seams caused by the strips of tape. (At least that's what I see.) This is the second version:
In November and December Gene started using the Gibson Grabber but the custom LoBue wasn't discarded, rather, the two alternated for quite some time.