Canadian rock legend Randy Bachman’s long search ended on Friday when he was reunited with a beloved guitar in Tokyo, 45 years after it was stolen from a Toronto hotel.
“My girlfriend is right there,” said Bachman, 78, a former member of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, as he was presented with the Gretsch guitar on which he wrote “American Woman” and other hits from a Japanese musician bought it from a Tokyo store in 2014 without knowing its history.
He said all guitars are special, but the orange 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins he bought as a teenager was exceptional. He worked multiple jobs to save money to buy the $400 guitar, his first purchase of an expensive instrument, he said.
“It shaped my whole life. It was my hammer and a tool to write songs, make music and make money,” Bachman said The Associated Press before being handed over at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo.
When it was stolen from the Toronto hotel in 1977, “I cried for three days. It was part of me,” he said. “It was very, very annoying.” He ended up buying about 300 guitars in unsuccessful attempts to replace them, he said.
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Bachman spoke frequently about the missing guitar in interviews and on radio shows, and more recently on YouTube programs where he appeared with his son Tal.
In 2020, a Canadian fan hearing the history of the guitar did an internet search and successfully found it in Tokyo within two weeks.
The fan, William Long, used a small spot in the guitar’s wood grain seen in old pictures as a “digital fingerprint” and traced the instrument to a vintage guitar shop in Tokyo. Another search led him to a YouTube video showing the instrument being played by a Japanese musician, TAKESHI, in December 2019.
After getting the message from Long, Bachman immediately contacted TAKESHI and recognized the guitar in a video chat they had.
“I cried,” Bachman said.
“The guitar almost spoke to me during the video, like, ‘Hey, I’m coming home.'”
TAKESHI agreed to give it to Bachman in exchange for a very similar one. So Bachman searched and found the guitar’s “sister” – made the same week, with a similar serial number, with no modifications and no repairs.
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“Finding my guitar was a miracle, and finding her twin sister was another miracle,” said Bachman.
TAKESHI said he decided to return the guitar because, as a guitarist, he could imagine how much Bachman misses it.
“I’ve only owned and played it for eight years and I’m very sad to have to return it now. But he’s been sad for 46 years and it’s about time someone else was sad,” said TAKESHI.
“I felt sorry for that legend.”
He said he feels good after returning the guitar to its rightful owner, but it may be some time before he loves his new Gretsch as much as she does.
“It’s a guitar and it has a soul. Even if it’s the same shape, I can’t say for sure I can love a surrogate like I loved this one,” he said. “There’s no doubt that Randy has been thinking of me and searching extensively (for the replacement) so I’ll gradually develop an affection for it, but it may take time.”
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Bachman said he and TAKESHI are now like brothers who own guitars that are “twin sisters.” They take part in a documentary about the guitar, on which they want to play the song “Lost and Found” together.
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They also performed several songs at Friday’s handover, including “American Woman.”
Bachman said he will lock the guitar at his house so he never loses it again. “I’ll never take it out of my house again,” he said.
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© 2022 The Associated Press
https://globalnews.ca/news/8962065/randy-bachman-reunited-stolen-guitar-japan/ Randy Bachman reunited with beloved stolen guitar: ‘It’s a guitar and it’s got a soul’