No one would disagree when I say the COVID-19 pandemic stripped the world of so much. For many, it stripped them of company, it stripped them of reliable income, it stripped them of human contact. And for some, it stripped them of their health, their sleep, and their sanity.
But the Coronavirus also brought with it surprising silver linings. Seemingly overnight, Facetime and Zoom rates skyrocketed, and friends and family all over the globe found the most creative ways to find togetherness, even when apart.
Artists and creatives who found themselves halting tours and putting live shows on hold had to find new and unique ways to connect with their audiences and share their art with the world.
For Canadian songwriter Randy Bachman, putting on online performances was the catalyst that filled a void that had been left behind nearly 50 years ago.
The Winnipeg-born musician and founder of Canadian Rock band The Guess Who tragically had his near one-of-a-kind guitar stolen from a hotel lobby in Toronto in 1976 and thanks to the power of the internet has been reunited with the long-lost instrument.
The 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins was one of only 35 made. For any guitar buffs out there, Bachman’s Gretsch came equipped with humped fret blocks, a Chet Atkins signpost, DeArmond pickups, and a Bigsby tremolo.
Since the guitar was stolen, Bachman has purchased more than 350 Gretsch guitars in the hopes to find the Chet Atkins model from so many years ago, to no avail. Subsequently, Bachman went on to sell his collection to Fred Gretsch which is now on display at the Gretsch museum in Savannah, Georgia.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Randy and his son Tal teamed up to put on a virtual show titled “Friday Night Trainwreck” where the pair would play their favorite music, tell their favorite stories, and talk about their favorite guitars.
“I’ve talked about this guitar in every radio show I’ve done.”
- Randy Bachman (Bachman & Bachman on YouTube)
After hearing Bachman’s story, a gentleman in White Rock reached out to the “Takin’ Care Of Business” singer and claimed to have found the stolen guitar due to what he deemed facial recognition. Believe it or not, Randy Bachman’s original Gretsch was adorned with a very particular knot in the wood, making it easily recognizable in a crowd.
The White Rock resident claimed to have seen Randy play the infamous guitar in a live performance of “Lookin’ out for #1” which was filmed in 1975. There, the unique marking is on full display.
According to the White Rock source, the 1957 Chet Atkins guitar had made its way across the globe and landed in the hands of a Japanese pop artist Takeshi.
On December 24th, 2019, Takeshi uploaded a video to YouTube where he and his bandmates played a Japanese version of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. The star of the show? A 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins with a very particular knot in the wood.
To make matters even more miraculous, Bachman’s daughter-in-law just so happens to be Japanese, and fluent in the language, which meant she could act as a translator between The Guess Who guitarist and Takeshi who does not speak a word of English.
The trio set up a Zoom call, and as Takeshi brought the guitar into the frame, Bachman knew instantly that he had finally found his stolen instrument from so many years ago.
“He brought my guitar into the camera, I almost - I was frozen. He had - it was my guitar. We agreed that he had gotten, over 50 years, my stolen guitar.”
- Randy Bachman (Bachman & Bachman, YouTube)
Takeshi – knowing the weight and importance that the instrument holds – of course, offered to return the guitar to its original owner. The pair are in the process of trading guitars; Bachman with the help of a good friend who collects vintage guitars was able to get his hands on another of the 35 1957 Chet Atkins Gretsch’s made, and a trade is set to take place soon when traveling is safe.
The two even have plans to share the stage in Tokyo to perform “Takin’ Care Of Business” which was originally written on the stolen guitar.
See Randy Bachman's outline of the full story below!