In 2018, Gibson Guitar Corporation, the makers of the legendary Gibson Guitars, filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. The company was also in talks with KKR and Company (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) about restructuring the company. The deal nearly failed to come through. It wasn’t until October 2018 that Gibson got the court’s approval for its exit plan. The ownership of the company was transferred to its bondholders. This meant that KKR and Company were now officially in control of Gibson.
The decision brought about many significant changes in the upper management, and the company aimed to reorganize itself by focusing on its core products. These are all the facts we have so far. But there is one question that remains unanswered. Who are the new owners of Gibson Guitars? Are KKR and Company a small private investment firm or something more? As it turns out, religious fanatics who support right-wing politics own the investment firm. This is not the first time that far-right parties have exerted their influence over the American media and music industry. Supporters will argue that the ownership does not affect the final output, but let’s face it: This is far from reality. Most news is not news. It is propaganda instead. Back in 2004, George W. Bush was able to win by a significant margin in both conservative and liberal states. His reelection was attributed to his media campaign. Right-wing media houses were able to extend his support through several trustworthy news media shows and radio talk shows. Bush’s primary opponent, John Kerry, did not receive the same amount of media coverage.
More recently, the false propaganda posts circulating all over Facebook also contributed to Donald Trump’s win in the Presidential elections. So what about KKR? It was reported in 2015 that Ken Mehlman, the former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, was being funded by the
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, LLP investment fund. Mehlman has been a critical ally of George W. Bush. He oversaw his reelection in 2004 through a campaign based on banning same-sex marriage. In spite of being gay himself, Mehlman has continued to criticize Hillary Clinton. He is a prime example of the right-wing establishment that has been organized to destroy Hillary Clinton. With Mehlman, one of the few names directly tied to KKR and Company, it is open to
question what else the investment firm has dabbled in. Henry Kravis, the founder, was also approached by Donald Trump to act as Treasury Secretary in 2016.
Gibson also lists Wilks Brothers LLC among its Ad Hoc Minority Noteholders Committee. The Wilks brothers (Dan Wilks and Farris Wilks) have been known to provide millions of dollars worth in funds to the religious right. Farris Wilks is a right-wing religious fanatic who wants to have the Bible included as a textbook in schools. He also believes that God will punish the country for
supporting homosexuality. Farris supports a variety of anti-LGBT groups and anti-choice pregnancy centers. These centers refuse to provide advice to single women about contraception.
Supporters of the Far-Right backed Gibson Guitars, and their takeover of this iconic music brand is a troubling sign. For an industry that has many musicians who identify with left-leaning politics could become a problem for Gibson knowing they’re now owned by individuals who promote and support far-right policies.