(SOUNDBITE OF THE GUESS WHO SONG, "AMERICAN WOMAN")
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
When Randy Bachman recorded this song in the late 1960s, he used one of his very favorite guitars.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICAN WOMAN")
THE GUESS WHO: (Singing) American woman, stay away from me.
SCOTT DETROW, HOST:
It was a pumpkin orange 1957 Gretsch. He had spent years saving to buy it as a teen, and he used it to play major hits with his bands The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
RANDY BACHMAN: It was with me all the time. I literally slept with this guitar.
INSKEEP: On tours, he was so worried about losing that guitar, he would chain it in his hotel room bathroom.
BACHMAN: I carried with me 12 feet of tow truck chain. So if somebody wanted to steal it, they'd have to rip the toilet out of the floor.
DETROW: Well, in 1976, his worst fears came true. He did not lock that guitar up and, yeah, somebody stole it. He was devastated.
BACHMAN: It's like you let your dog Skippy out for a run. You're looking at Skippy out the window and a truck runs over Skippy.
INSKEEP: Now, almost 45 years later, Mr. Bachman may get his guitar back, and he owes it to a fan. William Long, who lives in British Columbia, he's a kind of amateur sleuth, we're told. And during the pandemic, he had time, so he decided to take up the case. He took a screen grab of the guitar from a video and spent weeks scouring the internet.
WILLIAM LONG: Vintage guitar shops, going through internet archives, historic webpages and, yeah, I hit it. I found it.
DETROW: He found it on a for-sale ad in Tokyo, Japan. Then he tracked down the buyer, who is a well-known Japanese musician. Then he went to Bachman and Bachman contacted the musician who agreed to a guitar swap.
BACHMAN: People doing random acts of kindness who are strangers to you.
INSKEEP: William Long says he can't believe that he's the one who found the guitar.
LONG: I heard the story on a local radio the other day and I thought, wow, that's an amazing story. How'd they do that? Well, that was me.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKIN' CARE OF BUSINESS")
BACHMAN-TURNER OVERDRIVE: (Singing) And I've been takin' care of business every day, takin' care of business every way.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.