I just bought a guitar. Now I know that’s not all that shocking. I had been looking for another Telecaster Custom that could replace the one I had stolen in Germany 2 years ago. I hadn’t found one that I liked and so it has been on my radar since then - not like actively searching but just, you know - looking.
I stopped into a guitar store today to get Tracy some bass strings and as I walked through the store I saw this thing, this blinged out eyesore of a telecaster hidden away like no one wanted to acknowledge that it was even in existence in the store and for sale.
A black Telecaster Custom, that looks to be from the late 1970’s and it’s worn and well played and someone has bedazzled it with their initials “TG”. I look at the pricetag - $399. The last ‘77 Telecaster Custom I saw was selling for over $2500. But this one has got stars on the front, jeweled pieces of whatever lining the front and the headstock and I just know there’s a story.
As I start playing it, I can feel the neck is worn from many, many gigs that it’s done and I know that whoever TG is - he loved the shit out of this guitar and I know that I’m holding a dead man’s guitar. It is obvious to me, this was found by the family after he passed and they sold it. I just get that feeling and the guitar is telling me “take me home, don’t leave me in here, I don’t deserve this.”
I have to buy this.
“What’s the story with this thing?” I ask the clerk.
“Apparently the owner died and his family brought it in after he passed as they were cleaning out his place.”
“Can I take it today or is it still on hold?”
“Police hold is up on September 17th.”
“I’ll buy it.”
I look the guitar over again and on the heel of the guitar there is a return address label for Thomas Gadson. I have to remember that when I get home and look him up.
From his obituary:
“Thomas “Tutty” Gadson was a life-long renowned musician and self-taught guitarist who started playing at the age of 12, and later performed around the world. He gave lessons to world famous guitarist Jimi Hendrix and influenced the stage style of Bootsy Collins. Tutty also contributed to many well-known talents and performed with greats such as Little Richard, The Coasters, James Brown, The Jackson Five, Ike & Tina Turner, Count Basie, Albert King, ZZ Hill, Big Mama Thornton, Chuck Berry, Johnnie Taylor, Freddie King, Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson, Al Green, Sam & Dave, Etta James, and many, many more. He also contributed to the success of his brother’s career James “Gat” Gadson.”
He survived playing with Otis Redding and James Brown and was 74 years old and then he got hit by a car while crossing the street. Seriously?
This guitar should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame not hanging between the modeling amps and pointy guitars.
I have to honor his legacy and keep playing this guitar he loved.
I’m telling Tracy about this guitar and she starts looking him up online and the family and looks up his brother James “Gat” Gadson. Now Gat has played on over 500 Gold records from the Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson to Beck and D’Angelo. His drumming resume is insane. They say he is the most recorded drummer in R&B.
Anyway - he’s still alive and living in L.A.
At this point in the story I start thinking that there is more to this guitar and story than I know about. I’m thinking it’s stolen from the family and they don’t know where it is or anything.
I look up Gat’s facebook page and website and find contact info for him and send the message:
My name is Bobbo. I'm a singer/songwriter guitar player and I was recently in Sam Ash in Hollywood and I came upon an old Telecaster guitar that was all glittered up and sparkly. I knew it had to be something special with the initials "TG" on the front of it and your brother's return address label on the back of it.
I fell in love with the guitar and bought it. (I couldn't take it home because it's still on 30 day police hold on a used guitar to make sure it's not stolen). I got home and looked up Tutty online and was blown away to find out all about your brother and his legacy and then researching and finding you as well.
The reason I am writing is because I wanted you to know that his guitar is still at Sam Ash in Hollywood. I didn't know if you or the family were aware that it was there and I wanted to make sure it was ok with the family for me to buy it and to make sure it wasn't stolen after your brother passed away or anything like that. If it's not ok and you have been looking for it - just call up Sam Ash, they still have it and you can get it back from them. I know how personal instruments are and I wanted to be respectful of your brother's guitar, your family and his legacy.
It's a beautiful and obviously loved instrument and I would love it and cherish it but I wanted to find you and make you aware before I assumed ownership. It's very similar to a telecaster that got stolen from me while I was on tour in Europe 2 years ago.
I hope this note finds you well.
I get this response almost immediately:
"my phone number is 323.xxx.xxxx"
I call Gat and it turns out the guitar is in fact stolen. They had no idea how to even look for it as they didn’t have serial numbers or anything. He asks me what to do and I tell him to file a police report and then I gave him the phone number to Sam Ash in Hollywood and told him that I would call them and let them know what’s going on.
He thanks me a few times and says “if you ever need a drummer, you let me know!”
A partial list of who he has played with (so far):
Bill Withers, The Temptations, Freddie King, Martha Reeves, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, BB King, Albert King, Rose Royce, Marvin Gaye, Paul McCartney, Beck, D'Angelo, The Jackson Five, Diana Ross, Tavares, Gloria Gaynor, Anita Baker, James Brown, Ray Charles, George Duke, Aretha Franklin, The Isley Brothers, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Little Richard, Peaches & Herb, Billy Preston, Smokey Robinson, Frank Sinatra, The Supremes, The Spinners, Tina Turner, Justin Timberlake, Joe Cocker.
Gat is filing a police report and getting his brother’s guitar back and I’m happy that I was able to help make that happen.