My musical and gear related epiphanies......

1965: Discovered "Music" AKA "The Monkees"

1972: Discovered "Real Music" AKA Blue Oyster Cult

1995: Got my first "real guitar"....a $600 Fender American Standard, after playing various POS for the prior 30+ years.

2002: Got my first Tube amp....a Peavey Classic 30, but I finally realized that some amps did not use solid state circuitry and needed a minute or so to "warm up".

2003: First quality guitar....2000 CU 24

And the rest, as they say, is history.