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The One that Got Away

Have you ever had an instrument that you sold or somehow lost and still think about? Here are some stories about "The One That Got Away".

Gibson FJN Folk Singer Jumbo Guitar - Saul Rosenthal, Co-Owner of the Denver Folklore Center
"For my 16th birthday my parents bought me a Gibson FJN Folk Singer Jumbo guitar. It was my first acoustic guitar and I wanted to show it off to my friends. I took it to school one day and while a couple of boys were roughhousing one of them landed on the guitar inside its chipboard case and crushed the top. Three months later Gibson sent the guitar back to me from their repair shop with a new top. I played that baby for about 15 years before selling it, probably to buy something else I was yearning for at the time. Since then I’ve owned guitars from Martin, Breedlove, Huss & Dalton, Bourgeois, Seagull, Santa Cruz and Taylor. Of all the guitars I’ve owned the Gibson is the one I would love to get back."

Judy Collins' Martin Guitar

"I had a guitar stolen in 1964. I did a performance in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for the brand new Martin Guitar. Tom Paxton and I performed on the loading dock of the Martin Guitar company and they made us special guitars to celebrate that. One of them stayed with the company, one went to Tom and one stayed with me. I had a road manager and he had the guitar in his old station wagon, but somebody broke into the car and stole that guitar. And for years we’ve been looking for it and everybody from Martin Guitars have looked for it, but we’ve never found it. I feel very badly about that."

Favilla Baritone Ukulele - Catherine Gossage (Friend of the Store)

My father played the baritone ukulele, and we would sing along with him when I was a little girl. It was a mahogany Favilla, around 1952 or 1953 and didn't have a case. I always remember it was in great condition and kept in my parents' bedroom closet. When I took up the ukulele 7 years ago, I asked my father if he still had his ukulele. He said he had sold it, but didn't remember when or to whom. Probably when my folks moved from Denver to New Mexico around 25 years ago. I wish I could find it, if only as a souvenir of my father.

John Gorka’s Froggy Bottom Guitar
Singer-songwriter John Gorka has had a few. “There’s the guitar I learned to play on, my brother’s guitar, not very expensive but it was easy to play. It’s in good hands, I think my nephew has it. But there is a guitar that got away. My first good guitar was a Froggy Bottom guitar that I got in college and that’s the one that really broke my heart. Unfortunately, my car was stolen in New York City – I was visiting my girlfriend and went to go home and my car was gone. I had to take the bus back to Pennsylvania. Somewhere along the way, when I got off the bus to take the guitar from underneath, the guitar was gone. First my car was stolen, then my guitar. My girlfriend said ‘You still have me’, but in a few months she was gone too. That was for the best though.”

Photo Credit:

A 1975 Guild F50 Blonde - Friend of the Store
I miss my 1975 Guild F50 blonde. It just wasn't getting the love it deserved after I got my Lowden.

Photo credit: Willie's American Guitars

Jimmy Page’s “Black Beauty”
Guitar legend Jimmy Page had his prized "Black Beauty" 1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom stolen in 1970. He loved the guitar so much he had a replica made. No one could find the guitar anywhere, so he turned to the pages of Rolling Stone magazine and ran a "missing guitar" ad in every issue for a year. Nothing ever turned up. Then in the early '90s, a guy walked into a vintage guitar shop claiming to have Page's missing guitar. He said he'd bought it from the widow of an airport employee who'd stolen the guitar when Page's band (Led Zeppelin) played in Minnesota. The store owner attempted to contact Page, but a miscommunication about the guitar's modified switches led the instrument to stay out of Page's hands until 2015! Learn the whole story and how the guitar eventually got back to Jimmy Page HERE.

1962 Martin D28 - David Parkes (Friend of the Store)
My guitar story though, comes from a ranching community in NW Nebraska where the brother of a good friend lived.  He was a paraplegic rancher who had cattle, drove his own pickup truck and flew airplanes among many other skills.  A remarkable man in every way.  I spent a lot of time with him here in Denver when he was in Craig Hospital undergoing cancer treatments and PT late in his life. After his death, I played at his funeral [That’s How Strong My Love Is] and the family subsequently contacted me about a guitar he owned and wanted me to have it and make sure it got played.  A poignant gesture and gift indeed.  I insisted that it be just a loan and returned it to the family about 3 years later when his nephew wanted to learn to play.  It was a 1962 Martin D28 [you guys put a new set of strings on it] and I wrote a song about the man, the guitar, and the experience and I still sing that song today.

Bob Dylan’s Guitars
Bob Dylan has had several guitars get away from him. He had a few Fender Stratocasters that were lost or stolen in the '60s, including one of his favorites - a used Gibson J-50N acoustic.

Photo credit: Gibson
Tool's Adam Jones - 13 Signature Guitars
In October of 2020, thieves stole 13 signature Gibson Adam Jones (best known as the guitarist for the band Tool) 1979 Les Paul Custom guitars valued at $95,000 from a Sweetwater Music truck at the Flying J Travel Center in Whiteland, Indiana.

Gibson and Adam Jones decided to re-manufacture each of the guitars for the buyers and sent each a letter informing them that they would be remaking the guitars with a "special notation on the headstock" - making it easier to identify the stolen guitars. They have also posted the serial numbers of the stolen guitars on the internet.