Randy Bachman finds long-lost guitar

Almost 50 years ago, Randy Bachman’s Gretsch guitar – on which he wrote “American Woman” and other hits – was stolen from a Toronto hotel. Decades later, the instrument was returned to him by a Japanese musician who bought it from a store in Tokyo, unaware of its history.

Bachman, a former Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive guitarist, was understandably distraught when he first noticed the guitar was missing in 1977. It was the first expensive instrument he had ever bought at the teenage years, after doing odd jobs to save up to $400 for it. “I cried for three days – it was part of me,” he recently told the Guardian. “It was very, very upsetting.”

Over the years, Bachman tried to fill the void with other similar guitars, but nothing like the bright orange Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins from 1957. “It’s been my whole life,” he said. “It was my hammer and a tool for writing songs, making music and making money.”

In 2020, a Canadian fan named William Long decided to launch an internet hunt for the missing guitar, carefully studying old photographs for distinct markings on it. Within weeks, he had tracked the instrument to Japanese rock musician Takeshi. After communicating, Takeshi agreed to return the instrument to Bachman in exchange for a “sister” guitar made during the same week and bearing a similar serial number.

“I owned and played it for just eight years and I’m extremely sad to return it now. But it’s been feeling sad for 46 years, and it’s time someone else felt sad,” said Takeshi. “I felt sorry for that caption.”

The two musicians met in Tokyo to swap instruments, where they performed together at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, marking Bachman’s first time performing in Japan since 1995, when he appeared with Ringo Starr. Bachman and Takeshi are now planning to appear in a long-lost guitar documentary, in which they will perform a new song together, written by Bachman, titled “Lost and Found.”

Talking with a Japanese newspaper Mainichi ShimbunBachman expressed his gratitude for the happy ending, “This whole trip to Japan and my guitar comeback is a dream come true.”

Listen to Guess Who’s “American Woman”

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