Randy Bachman Recovers Stolen Guitar 46 Years Later in Tokyo

"This whole trip to Japan and my guitar return is a dream come true"

Photo: Randy Bachman

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jul 1, 2022

After postponing his spring solo tour, Randy Bachman is thankfully doing better and has returned to his travels. The musician is currently in Japan and is set to have the "life-changing" experience of being reunited with his prized pumpkin orange Gretsch guitar after it was stolen 46 years ago.

The year was 1976 and Bachman, then 32, was devastated after his beloved instrument went missing from a Holiday Inn in Toronto. He had been diligent about shackling the guitar to hotel room toilets with tow truck chains, but his staff had briefly left it alone and unchained that day.

For decades, Bachman was fixated on recovering his "first love," which he had worked odd jobs to save up for as a teenager. He eventually grew a collection of over 350 lookalikes amid his search, but none of them matched the distinctive blemish of his original instrument —a dark, circular knot imperfection in the wood.

In March 2020, BC's William Long, a semi-retired Bachman fan, took it upon himself to aid the singer-songwriter's hunt. Long compared photos of Bachman's original and guitars matching its colour and grain pattern for several hours daily until he found the guitar on a website for a music store in Tokyo. The listing claimed that the axe had been sold in 2016.

Long's detective work traced the purchase back to Japanese rock musician TAKESHI, who appears to be playing the instrument in a Christmas performance video from 2019 that was uploaded to YouTube.

From there, Long got in touch Bachman's son Tal, whose wife KoKo Yamamoto is fluent in Japanese. Yamamoto was able to play translator and facilitate the organization of a guitar exchange between Bachman and TAKESHI, the latter calling the story a "miracle."

Said exchange is scheduled to take place today at Tokyo's Canadian embassy, where TAKESHI will be receiving a 1957 Gretsch 6120 in the same orange shade as Bachman's long-lost Gretsch ahead of the two performing together. It will also be Bachman's first performance in Japan since playing there with Ringo Starr in 1995.

The Canadian plans to write a song called "Lost and Found" when he's reunited with the guitar. He told the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun that he expects to cry when he reconvenes with his beloved instrument, as per VICE's translation.

"Our big switch off of the 2 Gretsch guitars will be Canada Day, July 1 at the Oscar Peterson Theater at the Embassy," Bachman wrote in an Instagram post. "That's when I'll get my lost guitar back. It will be life-changing. This whole trip to Japan and my guitar return is a dream come true."

See the musician's Instagram post about his special trip to Tokyo below.

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