The long search for Canadian rock legend Randy Bachman came to an end on Friday when he was reunited with a prized guitar in Tokyo 45 years after it was stolen from a Toronto hotel.
“My girlfriend is right there,” Bachman, 78, a former member of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, said as a Japanese musician handed him the Gretsch guitar on which he wrote “American Woman” and other hits. he had bought it in 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.
“He did my whole life. It was my hammer and a tool to write songs, make music and make money,” said Bachman. The Associated Press before delivery to the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo.
When it was stolen from my Toronto hotel in 1977, “I cried for three days. It was part of me,” he said. “It was very, very upsetting.” He ended up buying about 300 guitars in failed attempts to replace it, he said.
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Bachman frequently spoke about the missing guitar in interviews and on radio shows, most recently on YouTube shows where he performed with his son, Tal.
In 2020, a Canadian fan who heard the story of the guitar started an internet search and successfully located it in Tokyo within two weeks.
The fan, William Long, used a small dot in the guitar’s wood grain visible in vintage images as a “fingerprint” and traced the instrument to an antique guitar shop in Tokyo. Further searching led him to a YouTube video showing the instrument being played by a Japanese musician, TAKESHI, in December 2019.
After receiving the news from Long, Bachman contacted TAKESHI immediately and recognized the guitar in a video chat they had.
“I was crying,” Bachman said.
“The guitar almost talks to me in 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 “sister” guitar, made during the same week, with a close serial number, without modifications or repairs.
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“Finding my guitar again was a miracle, finding his 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 missed it.
“I had it and played it for only eight years and I am very sad to return it now. But he has felt sad for 46 years and it is time for someone else to feel sad,” said TAKESHI.
“I felt sorry for this legend.”
He said he felt good after returning the guitar to its rightful owner, but it may take a while for him to love his new Gretsch as much as this one.
“It’s a guitar and it has a soul. So even if it’s the same shape, I can’t say for sure if I can love a replacement the same way I loved this one,” she said. “There is no doubt that Randy thought of me and searched hard for (the replacement), so I will gradually develop an affection for him, but it may take time.”
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Bachman said that he and TAKESHI are now like brothers who own guitars that are “twin sisters.” They are participating in a documentary about the guitar in which they plan to perform a song, “Lost and Found” together.
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They also performed several songs on Friday’s installment, including “American Woman.”
Bachman said he will lock the guitar in his house so he will never lose it again. “I’m never going to take him out of my house again,” he said.
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