GUY RAZ, HOST:
Here's another story about detective work, though this one doesn't include dogs or whales, but rather, Peter Frampton's guitar. Actually, the guitar he played on his mega-selling record, "Frampton Comes Alive."
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
RAZ: In 1980, the guitar was lost in a plane crash in Venezuela, or so Peter Frampton thought. But before we get to that part of the story, a little background on the guitar in question. It was 1970. Frampton was playing with a band called Humble Pie at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. He wasn't playing well, so another musician lent Frampton his spare 1954 customized Gibson Les Paul.
PETER FRAMPTON: I said, well, I've never really had much luck with Les Pauls, but you know what? At this point, I'll try anything. I used it that night for both sets. I don't think my feet touched the ground the whole night.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY, I LOVE YOUR WAY")
FRAMPTON: (Singing) Ooh, baby, I love your way every day...
RAZ: This becomes your guitar.
RAZ: This is the guitar on the famous cover of "Frampton Comes Alive." This is the guitar that you used to play all these great songs, including one of my personal favorites, Peter, "Show Me the Way."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHOW ME THE WAY")
FRAMPTON: (Singing) Oh, won't you show me the way, every day...
RAZ: Peter, could you have played this song the way you did with any other guitar?
FRAMPTON: Well, unfortunately, that's the only song - and I have to be truthful - that's the only song that is another guitar that was lost. It was a '55 Stratocaster on that. That's the only number I played it for. You couldn't have picked the one other?
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
RAZ: Well, still a great song, Peter.
FRAMPTON: Yeah. Hey, I'm not complaining.
RAZ: So 1980, you're on tour, you're about to - you're in South America. The guitar is put on a cargo plane in Venezuela en route to Panama, but it crashes just right after it takes off. You just assume that it was gone, as one would. It was a fiery plane crash.
FRAMPTON: Yes. For 30 years, I believed that because we sent my guitar technician down a week after the crash. Basically, there were a couple of speaker cabinets and a melted Fender Rhodes piano and that was about it.
RAZ: It turned out the guitar ended up on the island of Curacao, which is off the Venezuelan coast. Somebody basically picked it up from the wreckage, and it made its way there to a local musician. How did somebody else on that island figure out or make the connection that that could have been Peter Frampton's guitar?
FRAMPTON: Apparently, it was played around Caracas, and whoever had it got a little hot for them because people knew it was mine.
RAZ: And eventually, a local customs agent on the island named Donald comes across the guitar, recognizes it as the Peter Frampton guitar, right?
FRAMPTON: Yes. Because the owner of the guitar had taken it to him because Donald is known on the island for if you want a guitar to be fixed, take it to Donald. And a year and a half, two years ago, I got an email to my website containing pictures of the guitar.
RAZ: And you are sure that this is your guitar after having seen it?
FRAMPTON: Oh, yes. I knew that guitar inside and out. There is not a Les Paul that I have played that is as light. It's a very dry Honduras mahogany like no other guitar. So it had a lot of unique parts to it.
RAZ: What kind of condition is it in?
FRAMPTON: It's sort of a matte black now.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
FRAMPTON: It's not shiny too much anymore. I am not refurbishing it at all. Whatever needs to be replaced on it to make it just playable, but it must retain its battle scars.
RAZ: But, Peter, you know your fans are going to demand that you take that guitar and perform "Frampton Comes Alive" with that guitar.
RAZ: And what do you think?
FRAMPTON: Rumor has it that it'll be ready to play the show in New York City on February 18th, so I'm going to unveil it for "Do You Feel," I think, that night.
RAZ: Oh, wow. That is going to be an amazing, amazing night. That's the musician Peter Frampton. After 30 years, his long-lost guitar was recovered on the island of Curacao. Peter Frampton, thanks so much for that story, amazing story.
FRAMPTON: Thank you so much.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DO YOU FEEL LIKE WE DO")
FRAMPTON: (Singing) Do you, do you feel like I do? How'd ya feel?