Stephen O’Malley

RIP Travis Bean Aug. 21, 1947 - Jul. 10, 2011

Posted: Jul 10, 2011

RIP Travis Bean Aug. 21, 1947 - Jul. 10, 2011


"In 1996 I saw Steve Albini and Bob Weston playing guitars with Ts cut in the headstock. I was fixated on the look and on the sound. I've never seen Shellac prior, and I definitely haven't seen guitars like these before. Suddenly, my Les Paul looked inferior. Cruising around doing research on my Win95 computer, I started seeing mention of Travis Beans and Shellac. I confirmed that the guitars I saw... were Travis Beans. The quest begins.

In 1998 I saw that Travis Beans were coming out. Re-issues. Expensive. I was interested, but for some reason, I wanted the older ones.

In 2000 I purchased my first Bean. I still regard this Bean as the best Bean I've ever held. The best Bean I've ever seen. It's just a Standard, but there is something special about it. I remember buying it on eBay. Never held one prior. Never played one prior. Buyer's remorse was already setting in. I remember my wife calling me telling me the UPS dropped it off at the house. I left work to see this thing. My wife was standing next to me while I opened the guitar case. It was a very Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark moment. I swear light came out of the case. I remember saying.. Hooooly Shiiiit. My wife looked at it and she was floored. I've never seen anything like it, and to see it in my hand was special. You can feel the craftsmanship. You can feel the durability.

In 2001 I started It became a home for serials and photos; a place to see other Beans.

In 2008 Rick 'Obe' Oblinger passed away. He was a major piece of the Travis Bean puzzle and helped make those guitars what they are today, and I felt a piece of Bean history was lost. So I started a new quest; the quest to find the personal stories behind the guitars. The concept of the Travis Bean documentary was born and that journey began. That eventually led to Travis Bean himself. Many phone calls and hours of video were shot. A friendship developed. Travis and I stayed in touch regularly via phone. Conversations would go well beyond the Bean guitar and into normal life conversations. Goings on, family, his illness, etc. we talked about everything.

July, 10 2011 - Travis Bean sadly passed away this morning in Burbank, California. It's been a hard day for me and an especially hard day for his wife Rita and the Bean family. It's a huge loss in the guitar world, but that loss is nothing compared to what Travis offered as a friend and husband. He helped design a fantastic instrument, but I'll always think about our friendship. He was struggling for some time with cancer and kidney failure. Our thoughts go out to you, Rita and to your family.

Travis.. you will be greatly missed.

Rest In Peace 
Travis Bean
Aug. 21, 1947 - Jul. 10, 2011

More information about his illness, and if you would like to donate to help Rita, please visit

Today is a good day to play your Bean....

—Hank Donovan"