What if you owned a 1959 ‘burst Gibson Les Paul, one of the most valuable and sweet-sounding guitars ever, and found out that decades ago it had been stolen from a famous player – and now that famous player wanted it back? What would you do, presuming you had bought it in what you thought was a legit way?
It’s not a rhetorical question because Ronnie Montrose this week filed suit against Gary Moore for the return of just such a Les Paul – no s**t!
According to the court filing, which you can see in full as a PDF here, Ronnie’s ’59 ‘burst (purchased in 1972 from J. Geils) was stolen off the stage during an Edgar Winter Group concert later in 1972 in Dudley, Mass. “The moment he noticed the guitar missing, Mr. Montrose stopped the concert in mid-show, turned on the house lights and searched for the guitar to no avail,” the filing states.
Hell yes he stopped the show!
Since then, 37 years ago, Ronnie has been looking for his guitar. He’s given “numerous interviews” about it, and at one point even hired a private investigator to follow up on a lead, according to the filing.
But the big lead he was looking for came from the Gibson.com website (forum maybe?) where the serial number 9-2227 was mentioned as one of Gary’s ’59 ‘bursts. Bingo. That was the Les Paul Ronnie was looking for.
In case you think Ronnie just sued without trying the easier way – if there can be an easier way in a case like this – the filing states that after some attempts to reach Gary (starting around November 2007), “in March 2009 Mr. Montrose wrote to Mr. Moore and told this story. There has been no reply to that letter. When left with no other alternative, Mr. Montrose filed this action seeking immediate relief from this court.”
What is Ronnie seeking? The return of the Les Paul, of course. It would’ve been nice to leave it there, but the filing also states, “As the result of Mr. Moore’s actions, Mr. Montrose has been damaged in an amount to be proven at trial.” Sounds like some cash might be sought.
He also wants Gary to stop “using” the guitar. Hmm.
And there you have it – for now. Not real sure how the U.S.-England law thing works: Can you “extradite” a guitar? And I assume Ronnie will have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he actually owned that guitar. I’m assuming no sales receipt was involved, so it might be tough. Who knows.
> Here’s the story of how the guitar disappeared, from an older Vintage Guitar magazine article. Note that at the time he called the guitar a ’58:
VG: I recall seeing the band on the old In Concert series, and there was a song where you and Hartman switched instruments in the middle of a song. I think it was called “Let’s Get It On.”
Ronnie: That was the song – you’ve got a good memory! I’d go play bass while Hartman would play with his teeth; that kind of schtick. (laughs) But there’s a sad story about that part of the performance. We were playing in Dudley, Massachusetts one night; I was using a ’58 Les Paul Sunburst that I’d gotten from J. Geils. When the time to “switch” came, I put it on a stand like I’d always do; I went over and played bass while Dan played a white Strat. When I came back over to get my Les Paul, it was gone; there was just a strap there. That was in the days of no security, and I never did get that guitar back.
> Pics of the ’59 Les Pauls are from a Japanese website: gary-moore.net. Not sure whether one of those guitars is the one in question or not.
For an update on this article, including what Gary Moore thinks of it, click here.
Sites That Link to this Post
- WoodyTone! - Update on the Montrose-Moore ‘Burst Lawsuit | May 26, 2009
- WoodyTone! - Ronnie Montrose’s ‘Rock Candy’ Tone… | February 17, 2010