For 45 years, Randy Bachman has tried to fill the void left by a guitar – the guitar – with which he strummed some of the most iconic songs in rock music.
He bought hundreds of other Gretsch guitars, but the former Guess Who guitarist couldn’t find this guitar – a 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins model in Western Orange with black DeArmond pickups.
âI would take the guitar in its case in my hotel room with a backpack with 12 feet of tow truck chain,â Bachman recalled in an interview Friday from his home in Sidney, British Columbia.
“I put my guitar next to the toilet in the bathroom, threaded the chain through the handle of the case, around the case and around the toilet twice, and locked it two times. times. So if someone wanted to steal it, they would have to rip the toilet off the bathroom floor. “
The guitar, which he used to write people like No sugar tonight, Take care of business and American woman, was stolen from a Toronto-area hotel in 1976.
Bachman was preparing an album for Bachman â Turner Overdrive in Toronto when his tour director brought the guitar back to the hotel upon departure. According to Bachman, the guitar was put in the hotel room with other luggage, and within five minutes it took to pay the hotel bill, the guitar was slipped.
âIt was just terrible,â Bachman said. “I literally cried all night … I loved this guitar so much.”
But after decades of research, Bachman’s long-lost guitar recently resurfaced in Tokyo.
The Long-Lost Guitar Has Winnipeg Roots
His love affair with the guitar began as a child in Manitoba’s capital city. He remembers a music store on Portage Avenue called Winnipeg Piano.
âI would go every Saturdayâ¦ and I would look out the window, if you can believe it,â he said. “Look at him for about an hour, then go to the side window, look at him from the side for half an hour, then Neil Young would come over to me and he would stare at him and stare at him for an hour.”
Bachman then bought one of the store’s guitars. He ended up being the bad one and he traded him in after Guess Who released his debut album, Shaking everywhere, and he bought the one he’s been stalking for nearly half a century.
Despite the help of the RCMP and vintage instrument dealers across North America, his search for the famous Gretsch model went empty-handed.
The belief is that his 6120 crossed the border to Buffalo, then to Chicago and Texas. It has since been located in Japan, using facial recognition software.
Facial recognition identifies Gretsch
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bachman was stuck at home recording YouTube videos when he received an email from a viewer in White Rock, B.C., claiming he had found Bachman’s missing Gretsch.
âHe said he did facial recognition on my guitar,â Bachman said. âI said, ‘What are you talking about? He said, “Well, we do it for the faces.” The guitar has a face, doesn’t it? “”
The viewer sent Bachman a 2019 Christmas video of Japanese pop musician Takeshi playing guitar. Facial recognition software pointed out what looked like a small flaw, which was actually just a knot in the wood.
Bingo. Bachman’s lost guitar has finally been found.
“The minute I saw it, I knew [it. He was] singing Rockin ‘around the Christmas tree with rockabilly, âhe said.
With the help of her son’s partner Tal, Koko, Bachman and Takeshi, who don’t speak English, got in touch. Koko was the translator during their hour-long conversation.
âHow it all plays outâ¦ one after the other it seems like everything was meant to be like Randy said. And that’s exactly how we all feel. It brings us together,â Koko said.
“It’s pretty funny because when I moved here from Japan I was 16 and didn’t speak English. So I’m happy I learned and I can actually translate now and be able to help. Randy to sort this out. “
Takeshi agreed to buy back the guitar from Bachman.
âWhen I first strummed this guitar at a music store in Tokyo, I knew and felt it was fate – I immediately and impulsively bought it,â Takeshi said in a statement.
“I am so honored and proud to be the one who can finally return this stolen guitar to its owner, the rockstar, Mr. Bachman, who had been searching for it for almost half a century, and I am very grateful that this miracle has happened. occur in both of our lives. “
Bachman had to find a guitar as close to the original as possible in order to facilitate the trade. He contacted Gary’s Classic Guitars in Ohio, which had a 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins model in Western Orange – with the two-digit serial number of the original – and bought it for trade with Takeshi.
Once he is safe enough to travel overseas, Bachman will travel to Japan to trade the original guitar he bought so many years ago at Winnipeg Piano.
He expects to be overcome with emotion when he finds the guitar again.
âI will be beyond verklempt,â Bachman said. “I’m sure I’ll cry.”