This year, Randy Bachman found two very important things: his rare Gretsch guitar that was stolen in 1976, and a new friend.
Bachman, the Canadian musician and member of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, bought the 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins guitar when he was 18, after saving every penny he earned working odd jobs. He wrote the songs "Takin' Care of Business" and "American Woman" on the guitar, and when it was stolen from a Toronto hotel in 1976, "part of me was lost," Bachman told CNN.
Bachman discussed the missing guitar in a video he posted on YouTube, and fan William Long, who enjoys investigating unsolved mysteries, started searching for it online. Over the course of three weeks, he looked at countless images of orange Gretsch guitars and scoured the classifieds. Bachman's guitar had a very distinctive pattern in the wood grain, and Long finally tracked it down to a vintage guitar shop in Tokyo, which had sold the guitar to Japanese musician Takeshi.
When Bachman watched a video of Takeshi playing the guitar, it was "unbelievable," he said, and it felt "like somebody hit me in the face with a shovel." Takeshi agreed to give Bachman back his guitar, but asked for his assistance tracking down something similar. An Ohio shop helped Bachman find the guitar's sister, which based on the serial numbers was likely made during the same week.
In a statement, Takeshi said he is "honored and proud" to be the one to return the guitar to Bachman. Once travel restrictions are lifted, Bachman told CNN he plans on flying to Japan, where he will perform with Takeshi. "This guy is my guitar brother," Bachman said. "Takeshi is my brother. I can't even talk to him because he's Japanese, he doesn't understand me, but when we play the guitar together on Zoom, there's this connection."