As It Happens

'It's pretty metal,' says man who turned his uncle's skeleton into a guitar

A Florida musician says turning his dead uncle's skeleton into a sick guitar was "the best way to honour" the man who first introduced him to heavy metal.

Florida musician says this was the 'best way to honour' the man who introduced him to heavy metal

Florida musician Midnight Prince, right, says he imported his uncle's medically prepared skeleton from Greece and turned it into a guitar. (Submitted by Midnight Prince)

Since airing the interview with Tampa, Fla., musician Prince Midnight, two journalists based in Tampa Bay have said the musician bears a striking resemblance to a known prankster; and his story about the skeleton guitar is almost certainly untrue. Read more here.

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A Florida musician says turning his late uncle's skeleton into a sick guitar was "the best way to honour" the man who first introduced him to heavy metal.

The Tampa, Fla., musician, who goes by the moniker Prince Midnight, says he crafted the instrument out of the medically prepared remains of his Uncle Filip.

"It's pretty metal to play a guitar made out of skeleton, I have to say," he told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

Prince unveiled the final product — called the Skelecaster — on his Instagram

The Skelecaster is the result of lots of bureaucratic wrangling, family skirmishes and experimental craftsmanship, Midnight said. 

His Uncle Filip died in a car accident in Greece in the mid-'90s at the age of 28, he said. Per his wishes, his remains were donated to science, and his skeleton was used in medical school classes there for decades. 

But then, one day, the school no longer had any use for the bones, Midnight said. Filip's parents had since died, so the responsibility for his remains fell to Midnight's mother.

No one's ever made a guitar out of a skeleton, to my surprise. So there is a little bit of a learning curve- Prince Midnight, metal musician 

Cremation was not an option for the Greek Orthodox family, he said, so his mother was stuck with two options — pay for a burial plot, or continue to pay a monthly fee to store the remains.

"She didn't want to pay for that anymore. And then I was like, 'I'll take care of it,'" Midnight said.

"So I went through all the red tape, which is a tremendous amount of trouble. You've got to contact the funeral home. The State Department's involved."

Midnight says his uncle, pictured here, introduced him to heavy metal when he was a boy. (Submitted by Prince Midnight )

Eventually, the musician was able to get Filip's remains shipped to him in Tampa. At first, he says he wasn't sure what to do with them. Then, inspired by his guitar maker friend, the idea struck.

"It just popped into my head. I'm going to turn Uncle Fil into a guitar. And I was like, that is the best way to honour him. He would love that idea," he said.

Midnight says he has fond memories of listening to metal with his uncle, and seeing him perform at shows.

"Uncle Filip was a super metal head," he said. "He got me totally into metal when I was a little kid because he was my mother's younger brother, so he was closer to my age, and took me under his wing."

The idea didn't go over well with his mother at first, he said. 

"When this first started happening, she was really upset. She said, 'It's sacrilegious. He needs to lie, you know, and rest,'" he said.

"And as she was walking away, I was like, 'You think Uncle Fil would rather be a guitar, or a box of bones?' She threw her arms up. She goes, 'Probably the guitar.'"

'It's got some quirks'

Making the guitar was no easy feat, either.

"No one's ever made a guitar out of a skeleton, to my surprise. So there is a little bit of a learning curve," he said. 

"Originally, I was drilling into the vertebrae, the bones, and one cracked and broke. And so I was like, well, I've got to re-assess how I'm going to do this."

He ended up welding a metal bar onto the spine and attaching it to the bridge and neck of an old Fender Telecaster guitar. He also attached red and blue wires, reminiscent of veins and arteries depicted in medical books.

Turning a human skeleton into a guitar was no easy feat, says Midnight. (Submitted by Prince Midnight)

"It is not a typical guitar, so it's got some quirks, to say the least. But sometimes the limitations we have with our tools are what make the products great," he said.

"When you are trying to strum inside a rib cage, it limits how long your strokes with a pick could be, right? So that tends to make a heavier kind of tone when you're strumming. So, yeah, it has a certain sound to it, and I think it sounds great."

But most of all, he says it makes him feel close to his uncle again.

"I feel like Uncle Fil is not just here now figuratively; he's here literally too," he said. "I'm literally giving my Uncle Fil hugs while he's figuratively with me, creating, you know, heavy metal riffs."

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Sarah Jackson. 

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