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Rock star Randy Bachman reunited in Tokyo with guitar stolen 45 years ago

TOKYO -- "My girlfriend right there," said Randy Bachman, former member of the rock band The Guess Who, when he was reunited with his guitar that was stolen 45 years ago in Canada while on tour. The 78-year-old rock star was handed his long-lost love at the Canadian Embassy here on July 1 by Japanese musician Takeshi, who had purchased Bachman's guitar at a Tokyo shop in 2014.

    Randy Bachman places his right hand on his chest while holding the guitar he had lost 45 years ago, at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo's Minato Ward on July 1, 2022. (Mainichi/Yuki Miyatake)

    Bachman grinned from ear to ear when he saw his "girlfriend" on a stage prepared by the embassy in Tokyo's Minato Ward. In exchange for his 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins, Bachman gave Takeshi the same model of the Gretsch guitar.

    The Canadian rock star bought his Gretsch when he was 19, but in 1977 it was stolen at a hotel in Toronto. The guitar, which he purchased alongside his hometown buddy Neil Young when the pair went guitar shopping together, was so special that Bachman kept searching for it and talked about how it was stolen at interviews and on radio.

    Bachman's guitar ended up with Takeshi in 2014 after it was sold off in Dallas, Texas, and the Japanese musician happened to purchase it at Guitar Traders Tokyo in the capital's Daikanyama area. After learning that a Japanese guitarist was in possession of his Gretsch following a fan's online quest to find the guitar, Bachman contacted Takeshi and the two met online in June 2020. Moved by the rock legend's passion for the guitar, Takeshi decided to return it to its rightful owner.

    Takeshi, left, hands Randy Bachman back his lost guitar at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo's Minato Ward on July 1, 2022. (Mainichi/Yuki Miyatake)

    Fast forward over two years and Bachman finally was able to reunite with his lost love after Japan relaxed its strict COVID-19 border control measures.

    "Thank you for taking care of my guitar," Bachman told Takeshi in Japanese during the event at the embassy, before handing Takeshi another 1957 Gretsch in exchange.

    Ahead of the exchange ceremony with Bachman, Takeshi played the rock star's guitar one last time. He said jokingly, "I'm relieved it didn't get stolen (while I had it)," and added, "It's sad to let (the guitar) go after playing it just for eight years. And Randy had been sad (about losing the guitar) for 45 years. I didn't want the legend to feel sad any longer."

    The pair performed in a live show at the embassy after they exchanged the guitars, playing hits including The Guess Who's "American Woman," as well as "Roll on Down the Highway" and "Takin' Care of Business" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, the band Bachman formed after leaving The Guess Who.

    Former The Guess Who member Randy Bachman is seen at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo's Minato Ward on July 1, 2022. (Mainichi/Yuki Miyatake)

    Now that he's reunited with his Gretsch, Bachman talked about making a song for the credits at the end of an auto-biopic currently in production. He said he wanted Takeshi to join the performance.

    Meanwhile, Takeshi has a show scheduled for Sept. 18 in west Tokyo's Kichijoji area. He said, "I'll make sure that (the new guitar) is in a perfect condition before the show." Tickets for his show can be acquired through the online ticket purchasing site Livepocket

    (Japanese original by Yukako Ono, Digital News Center)

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