Five Famous Stolen (and Returned) Guitars

PPcorn
PPcorn

As a follow up piece to Five Famous Stolen (and Never Returned) Guitars, we thought it would be a good idea to put some positivity back into the hunt for all music gear that remains missing, including Radney Foster’s four still missing guitars (he’s managed to recover six of the original ten stolen, as well as his Del Rio amp). While we hope the many missing instruments lost in the world somehow find their way home soon, here are five guitars that did manage a happy ending after being stolen. Below is PPcorn’s list of five famous stolen and returned guitars.Number Five: Bob Seger’s “Greatest Hits” Gibson: Nothing like hosting a party for your sixteen year old daughter and then having one of her guests sneak back into your house and steal your prized 1978 Gibson Les Paul. Although he never confessed to taking the guitar, Andrew D. Thompson admitted to police that he took cash, Shaquille O’Neal autographed sneakers and a Rolex in 2012. Lucky for Seger, the guitar he posed with on his Greatest Hits album (hence its nickname) mysteriously appeared on the back porch of their Michigan house after police talked to Thompson. May it stay forever safe from now on.

Number Five: Bob Seger’s “Greatest Hits” Gibson: Nothing like hosting a party for your sixteen year old daughter and then having one of her guests sneak back into your house and steal your prized 1978 Gibson Les Paul. Although he never confessed to taking the guitar, Andrew D. Thompson admitted to police that he took cash, Shaquille O’Neal autographed sneakers and a Rolex in 2012. Lucky for Seger, the guitar he posed with on his Greatest Hits album (hence its nickname) mysteriously appeared on the back porch of their Michigan house after police talked to Thompson. May it stay forever safe from now on.

Number Four: B.B. King’s Lucille Prototype: Originally a birthday present from Gibson for King on his 80th in 2005, he gigged hard on it for four years before it was stolen and sold to a pawn shop. It was there that Las Vegas guitar collector, Eric Dahl flipped when he saw what he was told was a Gibson ES-345 B.B. King 80th Anniversary model. It was the “Prototype 1” stamp where the serial number should have been that clued him in to the guitar’s actual identity. Needless to say, King was overjoyed to have his birthday gift back, and repaid Dahl warmly for it, giving him an autographed Lucille from Gibson Custom as a thank you.

Number Three: Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore’s Jazzmaster and Lee Ranaldo’s Jazzmaster: In the summer of 1999, an entire truckload of Sonic Youth gear was stolen in Orange County, California, including Moore’s heavily modified white 1960 Fender Jazzmaster.  Thirteen years later, a fan in Belgium spotted the guitar for auction on eBay. He contacted the band, saying “Check out this auction. The color’s different, but it definitely looks like your guitar. The serial number matches.” It was indeed a match. Ranaldo’s burgundy Jazzmaster was put up for sale by a pawn shop and was spotted in a forum discussion on OffsetGuitars. “Three pages into this discussion, someone said, ‘This looks like it’s Sonic Youth-ized or one of those stolen SY guitars’,” Ranaldo said. Fingers crossed for the remaining missing gear.

Number Two: Jaco Pastorius’ “Bass of Doom:” Ever a bassist’s bassist, Pastorius bought the 1962 Fender Jazz Bass in the early 1970’s and played many-a mind blowing lyrical, fretless, harmonic bass solos on it. Legend has it that Pastorius removed the Bass of Doom’s frets himself with a butterknife, filled in the gaps and lathered on a coat of epoxy to protect the bass from the Rotosound Swing 66 strings he used (though later he said he acquired the bass fretless). In 1986, the Bass of Doom was stolen off of a park bench in Greenwich Village and remained missing for twenty years until it was sold to a shop in the East Side. Pastorius passed away in 1987, but his family tried desperately to get his bass back to no avail – the shop owner wasn’t letting go. Metallica’s bassist Robert Trujillo caught wind of the legal battle over the bass, and provided Jaco’s family with the necessary funds to acquire the bass back. Though Trujillo technically owns the Bass of Doom, he made it clear the bass would be fully theirs for the same purchase price. Currently, it is under lock and key in “Fort Knox” – Trujillo’s nickname for Metallica’s instrument vault in Northern California.

Number One: George Harrison’s Gibson “Lucy” Gibson Les Paul: Named after the red-headed comedian Lucille Ball, Harrison received Lucy from his best friend Eric Clapton. It was the guitar Clapton used to record his one-take lead on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and had been previously owned by Rick Derringer. In 1973, Harrison’s Beverly Hills home was robbed, and Lucy was sold to a shop, where Guadalajara musician Miguel Ochoa bought it. Harrison ended up having to trade a Les Paul sunburst and a Fender Precision Bass for Lucy’s safe return. Afterwards, Harrison referred to the incident as Lucy’s “kidnapping.” He kept the guitar until his death in 2001.

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