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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Guitar Hero: San Francisco Musician Says He's Located Instrument Pilfered in '72 -- and Sues To Get His Axe Back

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2009 at 8:25 AM

In a downer moment that must have left countless concert-goers blinking, shaking their heads, and bellowing, "drag, man!" Guitarist Ronnie Montrose actually stopped a show in mid-song, had the house lights turned on, and scoured the theater when his 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard was stolen right off the stage.

Montrose, a San Franciscan, hasn't seen his guitar (which he bought from J. Geils) since that night on Oct. 10, 1972 when he played Dudley, Mass. with the Edgar Winter Band ... until now. The San Francisco musician -- who has played with Herbie Hancock, Van Morrison and others -- claims that after 37 years of scouring and thousands of dollars spent on private detectives, his guitar has turned up in the possession of British musician and guitar collector Gary Moore -- and, last week, Montrose filed suit in San Francisco District Court.

Gibson Les Paul models of this vintage are crafted of mahogany; only around 1,700 or so were ever made and no two guitars look exactly alike. Montrose claims he can identify his old axe from pictures of Moore's collection -- but, more exactingly, he says the serial number of the guitar is the same as the one filched from him in Dudley.   

The claims Montrose makes against Moore actually do sound like a setlist for a 1970s prog rock band: "Conversion," "Trespass to Chattel," "Declatory and Injunctive Relief," and "Specific Recovery of Property." Okay, more the first two. I love "Trespass to Chattel," especially the synth solo in the middle.

Gibsons of this era have sold for $60,000 or more by the way. So keep that guitar away from Pete Townshend -- or else!

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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