Randy Bachman’s precious Gretsch guitar was stolen 45 years ago. Internet sleuth helped rock star find him

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Bachman, of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, said he was heartbroken when the 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins guitar was stolen from a Toronto hotel in 1976.

“Part of me was lost,” the 78-year-old told CNN, comparing the theft to the death of a pet.

The Orange Gretsch, like the ones played by his idols Chet Atkins and Duane Eddy, was the first really expensive guitar he owned and he had to work hard at 18 to earn the $ 400 he needed to buy it.

“So I have a paper route where you earn, for example, two dollars a week for delivering the paper, you mow a lawn for a dollar, you babysit someone, you get a dollar, you work in a car wash. and you get 50 cents an hour. It’s the way back, ”he said. “So saving the $ 400 was a big, big, big deal.”

Bachman said he used to have a 12-foot-long tow chain which he used to lock the guitar to something secure if he had to leave it when he was on tour, but on this day there, the group’s road manager was not so careful.

He called the Ontario Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to file reports, but they told him he would likely never see the guitar again.

Bachman said he has told the story several times over the years on his radio show and on the YouTube channel he launched during the Covid-19 pandemic with his son, Tal Bachman, who enjoyed the 1990s hit “She’s So High”.

A “real puzzle”

Fan William Long stumbled across the video after listening to songs from The Guess Who on YouTube and decided to go looking for it.

Long researched DB Cooper’s infamous case of embezzlement in his spare time and was looking for something different to do last year when he was mostly stuck inside due to the pandemic.
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“My wife is doing jigsaw puzzles on the Internet, and I was like, ‘I prefer to do real-life puzzles,'” Long said.

He searched the internet extensively for photos of every orange Gretsch he could find and compared them to a video of Bachman playing the song. “Lookin ‘Out For # 1” on Dutch TV with Overdrive Bachman-Turner.
A close-up of Randy Bachman's guitar shows a dime-sized ring near the knob he adjusts.

Long said Bachman’s guitar had distinctive patterns in its wood grain, which he was able to enhance on his computer.

He scoured the web for old sales listings and other sources in North America, Australia, UK and Germany before finally finding a clue.

“I probably went through maybe 300 Gretsch images and got pretty good at seeing them and I could know right away that it wasn’t that,” he said. “So it’s eliminate, eliminate, eliminate, eliminate.”

He followed the guitar to a vintage guitar store in Tokyo, which had sold it, then was able to find a video of Japanese musician Takeshi playing Christmas carols on the guitar.

“You can clearly see (that) all of the grain, marks, and discoloration on the guitar match 100%,” Long said.

He spent two or three weeks looking for the guitar, mostly after work watching TV, then had to pass the information on to Bachman.

Long live White Rock, BC, not far from where Bachman once lived, but he didn’t know how to reach the rock star.

He said Bachman was shocked when he finally reached him.

“I see the guy playing my guitar, MY guitar, I can tell by the grain on it and I’m stunned. It’s like someone hit me in the face with a shovel,” Bachman said. “It’s just amazing, because I’ve been looking for this forever and I practically gave up.”

Bachman said his stepdaughter, KoKo, was from Japan and was able to set up a Zoom call with Takeshi and translate the meeting.

The same little ring can be seen in this 2019 video of TAKESHI playing the guitar.
He said he was in tears when Takeshi, which he described as the Japanese Brian Setzer, showed him the guitar on camera after all these years.

He said whoever stole it took good care of it, because it looked like it was in 1976.

Bachman explained that he wrote several of his greatest hits on the stolen guitar and that “it’s a very amazing and one of a kind guitar that’s part of me.”

And he said, ‘Well, I didn’t steal it’, and I said, ‘Sure, you weren’t even born when that thing was stolen, but you got it,’ Bachman said. “And he said, ‘Well, maybe I was born to take care of your guitar.'”

Bachman said Takeshi offered to return the guitar in exchange for a similar one.

“I’ll give you the guitar, but you have to find his sister,” Bachman said, telling him Takeshi.

Only a handful of guitars like this were made and they are expensive, so finding one in near new condition was going to be another challenge.

But Bachman had formed relationships with guitar dealers in North America during his quest to reclaim the guitar. He had also amassed a collection of over 350 Gretsch guitars over the years which he sold to the founding of the Gretsch family in 2008 for their museum.

‘It spoke to me like no other guitar’

An Ohio guitar store had what Bachman needed and, based on serial numbers, both guitars were likely made the same week, he said.

“When I first strummed this guitar at the Tokyo music store, it spoke to me like no other guitar I’ve ever played on. I knew and felt it was fate – I did. I immediately and impulsively bought it, ”Takeshi said in a statement. which was translated by KoKo.

He said connecting the guitar to Bachman made it even more special.

“Every time I think about the impact and influence this guitar had on the Rock N Roll music that inspired me and other rockers of my generation, I get so excited,” the release said. “I am so honored and proud to be the one who can finally return this stolen guitar to its owner, the rock star, Mr. Bachman who had been searching for it for almost half a century and I am very grateful for this miracle that has taken place. ‘occurs in both of our lives. “

Now they just have to make the exchange.

Bachman said he plans to travel to Japan to meet Takeshi and swap guitars once the country relaxes its Covid-19 restrictions.

They also want to play together in the nightclub where Takeshi filmed the video that led to the discovery of the guitar – they will play “Takin ‘Care of Business” and Bachman said he was going to learn one of Takeshi’s songs.

“This guy is my guitarist brother. Takeshi is my brother,” Bachman said. “I can’t even talk to him because he’s Japanese, he doesn’t understand me, but when we play guitar together on Zoom, there’s that connection.”

Bachman said they collected video footage throughout the experiment in hopes of making it into a documentary. He wrote a song on his lost guitar while working on a new Bachman & Bachman album with his son, and he said it will likely go on the soundtrack.

“For me it’s the most incredible Cinderella story ever, except at midnight the guitar won’t turn into a pumpkin, and neither will I, and I’ll get my guitar back at the end of it. ‘story, “Bachman said.



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