SG101 on the Web

Follow SurfGuitar101 on Twitter

Photo of the Day
Shoutbox

Theam1964: johnny fortune
11 days ago

Guitarzilla2014: Guitarzilla.com
9 days ago

Guitarzilla2014: check out the high speed mayhem of the surf at Guitarzilla.com or on Facebook @ Guitarzilla . In the spirit of Dick Dale with formere Del Tone John Wheeler
9 days ago

Brian: Guitarzilla.com is a parked domain.
7 days ago

Brian: I think you mean this: http://www.g...
7 days ago

Emilien03: Wow! 2 weeks of instro madnnes in CA! Now ... back to reality! Cool
4 days ago

Brian: It was great seeing you Emilio!
4 days ago

bigtikidude: I agree, yer welcome anytime Emilio
2 days ago

bigtikidude: And yeah reality sucks
2 days ago

HBkahuna: Tony Valentino, founder and lead guitarist of The Standells "Dirty Water" was so stoked by his SG101 Convention experience that he went home, composed and recorded a new surf song. Trying to figure best way to share. Tony gave his permission to share.
2 days ago

Please login or register to shout.

IRC Status
  • Frus

Join them in the #ShallowEnd!

Need help getting started?

Current Contests

No contests at this time. Check out our past contests.

Donations

Help us meet our monthly goal:

100%

100%

Donate Now

Cake August Birthdays Cake
SG101 MP3 Comps
Top 101 Banner

SurfGuitar101 Forums » The Shallow End »

Permalink WSJ article on stolen instruments of touring musicians

New Topic
Goto Page: 1 2 Next
The Wall Street Journal
MUSIC
NOVEMBER 30, 2011

The Sounds Of Silence
By JIM FUSILLI

Last week, the tour manager for Trevor Hall and his band started the long trek to Los Angeles from a gig in Madison, Wis., lugging the band's equipment across the country. As he stopped for a meal in Wichita, Kan., someone broke into the tour van and stole Mr. Hall's Taylor acoustic guitar, his bandmate's custom-made electric guitar, two laptops and about $2,000 in cash and checks.

Two weeks earlier, after Jason Isbell exited a hotel near Love Field in Dallas, he discovered an empty space where his van had been parked. His band's gear—including a drum set, keyboards, an upright bass, a vintage electric bass and Mr. Isbell's custom-built guitar—were gone.

Theft and loss of instruments is one cost of doing business for touring musicians; it seems most have suffered some equipment loss at some point. The website stolenguitarregistry.com currently lists 1,119 missing guitars on its database. "If you travel, you know your gear can be stolen," Mr. Isbell said.

A guitar can be replaced easily enough, but to most musicians, that's not the issue. "Once you play a guitar," Mr. Hall said, "you have a spiritual connection to it. It's like they're taking a part of you."

Shortly after a scorching set this summer at Chicago's Lollapalooza, John Gourley of Portugal. The Man discovered his band's van, with all its gear inside, had been stolen. Among the items lost were Mr. Gourley's Gretsch White Falcon guitar, which he had customized, and Zach Carothers's 1981 Fender Precision bass, a workhorse prized by musicians for its tone and versatility.

It wasn't the first time Mr. Gourley lost his gear. While leaving for a 1997 European tour, his first White Falcon, a gift from his father, was taken after it was checked on a British Airways flight. (He said the airline eventually reimbursed him for the guitar, which retails for more than $3,000 before customization.) Later on that same tour, Portugal. The Man's equipment, laptop and cash went missing in Madrid.

Some musicians continue to long for their missing instruments, even when they know they've been destroyed. Peter Frampton's 1957 Gibson Les Paul, a gift from a fan, was incinerated in a cargo-plane crash 31 years ago. It was the guitar he used in his former band Humble Pie and throughout his early solo career, including the landmark album "Frampton Comes Alive."

"I found my style with that guitar," Mr. Frampton said by phone from Berlin. He recalled how when he played it for the first time, at a live show at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, its tone and attack were so right that he felt as if he was levitating. "I've been trying from memory to get that sound, but I can't quite. Maybe what I do now is better, who knows? But it's not that guitar."

Rosanne Cash still yearns for her Martin D-28 guitar, stolen in 1979. It was a gift from her father, Johnny Cash, who posted a handwritten note inside its sound hole. The guitar was taken somewhere between Los Angeles International Airport's curbside check-in and Hawaii, where she was headed on her honeymoon with then-husband Rodney Crowell.

She said she still dreams about that guitar. "It breaks my heart. It had a sign that said: 'To my daughter.' Whoever has it knows it's mine. The bastard.

"It was such an amazing-sounding guitar," she said. "It's still painful to me."

Stolen instruments can turn up on eBay, at flea markets or be sold privately. It's unlikely a modified guitar like Mr. Gourley's easily recognizable White Falcon can be played in public. Within hours after its theft, Mr. Gourley posted a note on Twitter and created a site to enlist the watchful eyes of fans. Pawn-shop owners and dealers through the Chicagoland area were notified. But neither Mr. Gourley's guitar nor Mr. Carothers's bass have been located.

Once in a while, though, there's a story with a happy ending. In July, a trumpet belonging to the jazz musician and composer Thara Memory was stolen from his car in his hometown of Portland, Ore. It had limited value, even to the average trumpeter, as it was built for a left-handed player; most trumpeters play right-handed. A $500 reward was posted and local media covered the story.

Then, said Mr. Memory, "One of the thieves actually brought it back. He realized the reward was better for him than the horn—you couldn't take it to a pawn shop or find a musician who wouldn't recognize it. He gave it to me wrapped in a towel. It was a blessing the horn wasn't torn up."

Mr. Fusilli is the Journal's rock and pop music critic. Email him at jfusilli@wsj.com or follow him on Twitter: @wsjrock

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube
The Space Cossacks on Facebook

Interesting. What kind of collector wants an easily recognized instrument, obviously stolen? Must get some sort of weird thrill out of it...
Another example would be Jimmy Page's highly modified Black Beauty Les Paul Custom, filched at an airport early in Zep's career while on tour. It has never been recovered, despite rewards offered. Page has stated how much he bonded with the instrument, and had used it on many sessions before Zep.

People who steal gear from "starving artists" are definitely the worst kind of scum, especially if they know how little unsigned groups actually make gigging. I have to admit, this personally is one of the big reasons I am reluctant to make a go of gigging.

Mike

http://www.youtube.com/morphballio

Breaks the heart.
One well known story is Sonic Youth's heavily customized stolen '69 Mustang.
The guy who returned it is a member of offsetguitars.com (which is down for the moment, again). As I recall he went through quite an headache to obtain this guitar after he spotted it on ebay, just so he could return it. He got compensated of course, and Lee's personal Mastery bridge as a gift. What a cool guy.

Ariel


A single, double, triple, quadruple song

There's been an underground market for other people's property for as long as there've been people who think they should possess what belongs to someone else, and who can't, or just don't want to pay for it.

Why? Greed. Envy. The thrill of the theft. Having what really belongs to someone else, even if it can never be used or sold. Like when a school-yard bully takes some other kid's lunch, coat or shoe and just throws it away; if he can't have it, no one can have it.

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

I have to add this. For twenty years I've had high school kids tell me that people who have nice things should expect to be robbed, because it isn't fair that some people have nice things and others don't. If someone wears expensive jewlery it's his own fault if he's robbed. If you drive a desireable car it's your own fault if it's stolen. If you keep expensive things at home it's your own fault if your house is burglurized. Have anything special and you're really just teasing someone into trying to take it. If you don't want to be robbed, don't have anything someone else can't have. Those kids really believed the thief isn't at fault.

Most of them are grown now. I wonder if they lock their cars or houses at night.

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Last edited: Dec 01, 2011 10:23:41

Noel wrote:

I have to add this. For twenty years I've had high
school kids tell me that people who have nice things
should expect to be robbed, because it isn't fair that
some people have nice things and others don't. If
someone wears expensive jewlery it's his own fault if
he's robbed. If you drive a desireable car it's your
own fault if it's stolen. If you keep expensive things
at home it's your own fault if your house is
burglurized. Have anything special and you're really
just teasing someone into trying to take it. If you
don't want to be robbed, don't have anything someone
else can't have. Those kids really believed the thief
isn't at fault.

Most of them are grown now. I wonder if they lock their
cars or houses at night.

Wow..what a crappy area you live in!?

While we're certainly not immune to crime here on the NC coast I've never encountered not one "youth" that has expressed an opinion like that??
Of course robbery is a pretty risky business here in the South ;-]
Good way to get your arse handed to ya...trying to rob people an all.

METEOR IV on reverbnation

Doug's Island Vibe Guitar Soirée

And this. My son spent several years in a Russian orphanage. We were told in Russia there's no word in Russian that means what we understand the word "private" to mean. There's no understanding of the words, "privacy" or "private property" as we use them. We were told our use of these concepts is viewed with suspicion.

In his orphanage, children could only keep what they kept well-hidden. We would give him things when we visited and everything was always stolen before out next visit. It was like something out of Fagan's school for pickpockets.

There are people and places that just do not recognise anyone's possession of anything everyone else can't have. I'd like to know how so many American high school students (see above) aquired the same values?

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Last edited: Dec 01, 2011 10:57:25

This also made me immediately think of the Sonic Youth theft while on tour. A Ryder truck full of EVERYTHING--drums, amps, their customized Jags and Jazzmasters--just about everything they had collected and recorded with over the the previous years....gone.

Another one, James Jamerson's '62 Precision bass was stolen in the 70's and has never resurfaced. This was the bass affectionately known as the "Funk Machine" and can be heard on practically every Motown classic hit you can think of in the 1960's. He had carved the word "funk" on the neck heel, and filled it in with ink. SOMEONE has to have this bass, and know what it is.

Stolen gear is how the Sex Pistols got started!

Steve Jones interview

Sean

Although this is not typical of what youths in my locality think, here is a letter that a 16-year old burglar recently wrote to his victim as part of a reparation initiative and victim support scheme.

image

About 6 or 8 years ago, the Mermen had their van with all of their gear and merch stolen from a "protected" lot in Vegas. They eventually got most of their gear back. A music store in Kallispell, Montana had the gear for sale, and a prospective customer called Martyn Jones to ask about his drums before buying them from the store. Getting the authorities up there to step in and help was like pulling teeth, but they eventually did so reluctantly. Is it a coiincidence that the Mermen have rarely left the Bay Area since this incident? I doubt it.

Bob

Bob

If I recall correctly, the place in Montana was a well known seller of stolen gear, by speed freaks.
I think that a lot of stolen gear is probably by either drug addicts, or just people that don't want to work for a living.

Jeff(bigtikidude)

I guess stolen gear has been a problem since musicians have been touring. I remember being amazed at how many Stratocasters Buddy Holly had taken from him in the short time he was performing. Shows there were dirtbags even back in the "good old days."

"We're lousy, we can't play. If you wait until you can play, you'll be too old to get up there. We stink, really. But it's great," Johnny Ramone .

On a related topic, for some time now I've been thinking about taking my old Jazzmaster in for fret dressing and a good setup, but I've been concerned that it might disappear while in the shop.
I think I'm being paranoid, but I remember reading about Neil Young losing his Les Paul when it was in for repairs. Is theft from shops a common problem?

"We're lousy, we can't play. If you wait until you can play, you'll be too old to get up there. We stink, really. But it's great," Johnny Ramone .

The decline in respect for property rights, this attitude that Noel speaks of (his is not the only account of this I've seen by a long shot) toward the concept of property (not "stuff") is worse in my mind than any number of people who simply don't care and steal because they want to. People who think this way about the property of others (and I hope that it's not on the rise in the US as many people now claim) are nothing short of barbarians in their moral outlook. I would have more respect for someone that acknowledged the theft was wrong but decided to do it anyway for selfish reasons than someone that made this bogus rationalization based on envy, resentment, and a rejection of the rights of others. If you stole for survival I'd give you a pass, but in developed countries I very much doubt that this is often the case. That little nugget about the language and cultural attitude toward "private property" in Russia, if true, explains much of what I've always heard and read about that part of the world. Is there any lasting, prosperous society in the world whose legal system is not based on the concept of property backed by a reasonably legitimate government? I realize there's always been theft and theft in many different forms (such as by indirect means, which people erroneously use to muddy the lines between what is and isn't wrong) but is this practice of trying to legitimize it also as old? My instinct would be to say no, but maybe I'm just ignorant of it.

The Mystery Men?
SSS Agent #31

Baine wrote:

On a related topic, for some time now I've been
thinking about taking my old Jazzmaster in for fret
dressing and a good setup, but I've been concerned that
it might disappear while in the shop.
I think I'm being paranoid, but I remember reading
about Neil Young losing his Les Paul when it was in for
repairs. Is theft from shops a common problem?

Easy enough, just ask if you could be there while they do it. You might even find it interesting.

Danny Snyder
aka Mycroft Eloi of The TomorrowMen
aka Shecky Shekels of Meshugga Beach Party
aka Zync Oxyde of Frankie and the Poolboys

What kind of business is going to stay open for very long if they steal or let instruments be stolen?

Frankie in Frankie & The Pool Boys
Lazarus Longfellow in The TomorrowMen
Phayrentz in Pollo Del Mar
PDM on FaceBook

I'm always amazed to hear that a truck is stolen. That's hardly an opportunistic theft is it. A van. maybe, but a tour truck is a different deal!

In addition to the Buddy Holly comment, I read that Chuck Berry used to demand payment before the gig, put the money in his guitar case, then thread his guitar lead through the handle of the case during the gig. Obviously this was learnt from bitter experience!

www.thewaterboarders.net
http://thewaterboarders.bandcamp.com/

When I saw Dick Dale recently, the opening acts and his bass player had their instruments on stands on the stage, but DD came out of the upstairs dressing room with the Beast strapped on. I guess he keeps it close at all times, and that's why he's managed to hang onto it for about 50 years.

"We're lousy, we can't play. If you wait until you can play, you'll be too old to get up there. We stink, really. But it's great," Johnny Ramone .

Goto Page: 1 2 Next
Top