Bill Anderson Reunited With Prized Guitar After 50 Years
Grand Ole Opry legend Bill Anderson reunited with a long-lost friend on the stage of the Opry on Saturday night (Aug. 8).
The singer-songwriter tells Nashville's The Tennessean newspaper that his specially-crafted Grammer guitar was "the only guitar I played onstage for between five and seven years" early in his career. He lost the prized instrument more than 50 years ago, but it's now back in his hands after an unforeseen sequence of events that began when a man randomly visited a pawn shop in Pheonix, Ariz., and pawned a guitar last year.
Mike Grauer and Wendie Davis-Grauer own Bell Road Pawn, and they say the man never returned for the instrument and did not respond to their attempts to contact him. Mike Grauer is a guitar collector, and upon further examination of the guitar, he noticed a label pasted inside the body that read, "Made for Bill Anderson." Billy Grammer placed that label there himself after completing the guitar five decades ago.
Grauer began working with a luthier to restore the guitar, which had water and mold damage. When he researched the history of the guitar, he located an old photograph of Anderson playing it on The Johnny Cash Show. He emailed pictures of the instrument to Anderson's secretary, not really expecting to hear back, but when Anderson saw the label, he knew it had to be his own specially-made Grammer.
The Opry icon was suspicious at first.
"I thought, 'Here's a guy who wants to make a quick buck,'" Anderson admits. "How much is he going to charge me for this? Is he going to give me some exorbitant figure?"
But Grauer had just one simple request: He and his wife are both country music fans, and their fifth anniversary was coming up in August. If Anderson would fly them to Nashville for a performance at the Grand Ole Opry, they'd return the precious instrument in person.
"You wouldn't believe how quick I bought him an airline ticket," Anderson said onstage at the Opry Saturday night, just before the couple came out onstage to present him with the guitar. Afterward, Anderson brought Jamey Johnson onstage to perform "The Guitar Song," a song they co-wrote about a guitar that's gathering dust in a pawn shop.
"It sounds wonderful and I'm so glad to have it back," Anderson said as he strummed the guitar backstage after the show. "I just wonder, if it could talk, what stories it would tell me."
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