"Blackie," the 1950s-era Fender Stratocaster owned by Eric Clapton and auctioned for a record $959,500 last week at Christie's in New York, was acquired along with a handful of other historic instrume

"Blackie," the 1950s-era Fender Stratocaster owned by Eric Clapton and auctioned for a record $959,500 last week at Christie's in New York, was acquired along with a handful of other historic instruments by musical instrument/pro audio retailer Guitar Center.

"These guitars are so much a part of rock 'n roll history that we do not want to see them in the hands of private collectors," says Larry Thomas, Guitar Center chairman, in a statement. "Guitar Center wants to insure that fans will still have a chance to see them up close and in person. We are developing a plan for them to travel around the country and be on display free to the public."

"Blackie" was used extensively by Clapton from 1970 through 1985, and is pictured on the cover of his 1977 "Slowhand" album. The guitar is a composite of three instruments made in 1956 and 1957.

Clapton and other musicians donated instruments for the auction to raise money for Crossroads Centre Antigua, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in the West Indies. The auction raised $7,438,624.

Guitar Center also acquired Clapton's Gibson ES-335, purchased in the early 1960s and used on Cream's 1968 recording of Robert Johnson's "Crossroads," for $847,500. The retailer also bought Clapton's 1966 Martin 00-21, a gift he received from the late George Harrison, for $89,625.

In addition, Guitar Center acquired the late Stevie Ray Vaughan's 1965 composite Stratocaster, dubbed "Lenny," for $623,500. Vaughan purchased "Lenny," named for his then-wife, in the 1970s and used it until his death in 1990.