A White Stratocaster Finds its Way Home

I bought a beautiful white Stratocaster and it was stolen from my house. 40 years later, I got a call out of the blue…

Hail, Gentle Reader!

A tale of loss, redemption, and fulfillment that is all true, and so uplifting…

When I was just back from my first year in college, I was staying in the house in Lexington on Hunt Road, and I was just getting things together and rehearsing and playing at the house. We had a big open basement and I had a great little set-up there with guitars a turntable and a collection of records I was trying to practice off of – and lift licks from – Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield solos.

So, guitars were a big thing for me, and I had a Fender acoustic and had just bought a beautiful Fender Stratocaster, white and in perfect condition.

So, my parents had gone away for the weekend and my younger brother invited all his slacker and stoner friends over to drink beer and hang out. They were a real bunch of thugs and dopers and the party got started and I was downstairs when the police showed up at the front door and created quite a mad dash for the doors and exits. Kids came running down the back stairs for the garage door exits, and I got hit from behind with a table leg and was out like a light.

When I came too, the Police were everywhere, quite a few items had been stolen from the house… and when I looked over at my little studio, my beautiful 1971 white Strat was gone. I was heartbroken. How could my brother have friends like this and what in the world had he done to these people?

Here’s my American Standard Strat. I think its model year is 1995. I bought it brand new at Ray Hennig’s store in Austin in 1996. I bought it off Ray himself and he regaled me with stories about how Stevie Ray Vaughan used to hang out in his store every day. Check him out on YouTube.

My younger brother vanished, turns out he didn’t know any of these people and I spent two days cleaning the place up and trying to track down my Strat and the person who had taken it from me.

I tried for years to ask people, ask for leads, try to find the people who were there that night and I met with a dead-end at every turn. Nothing. It was really sad because, as the years wore on, that 1969 Jimi Hendrix Strat had become pretty valuable. But time moves on and as a few decades went by and then a few more, it became a smaller burr under my saddle, but still a pain in my heart, and I learned to live with the sadness and the disappointments of life and various circumstances beyond my control.

I am sorry for what I did 40 years ago. Please understand that my few years as a lost teenager do not represent the person I am and try to be. I’ve thought about trying to find you and make amends for many years. I’m glad I finally did.

I wish you well. I’m guessing your music career brings you much happiness and I hope that continues for many more years.

One afternoon as I was driving west thru Dallas, heading to Marfa, I got a text on my phone – nothing new there, but the message was a bit odd: it said are you Eric Sommer? Are you Stevie’s older brother? That was pretty interesting, so when I got it again the next day, I responded and said yes, that’s me… what can I do for you?

“I am the guy who stole your guitar from your basement 40 years ago. I am in a much better place now, and what I did that night has haunted me for all this time. I would like to try and give you your guitar back and ask forgiveness for what I had done so long ago.”

“I am the guy who stole your guitar from your basement 40 years ago. I am in a much better place now, and what I did that night has haunted me for all this time. I would like to try and give you your guitar back and ask forgiveness for what I had done so long ago.”

It was a haunting message, and I was pretty taken aback. I said that would be fine, I am glad he called, and it showed his true character. I gave him my address and he said he was a lost, messed-up kid, high on drugs that night… and sold it the next day.  He had no idea what happened to it, but he had something that I would like, that was the same brand, and model but a little different year and he will have it re-fretted, set-up, and sent as soon as possible.

The box arrived a few weeks later, along with the letter enclosed here.

About the Artist

“If there’s a place for musical perfection, it’s wherever you’ll find Eric Sommer – A blistering acoustic style plus a variety of slide and open tuning formats will knock you for a loop…” wrote Studdie Burns, New Melody Maker/UK in 2013. “How one guy can do this so well is remarkable, but if you look a little deeper there’s a batch of road miles around this lad… and it all makes sense.”

Eric started his musical career in the Boston area under the eye of legendary promoter Don Law and was onstage at The Paradise Theatre in Boston for a record 40 appearances. He has been a regular player on many national and international tours and showcases, and worked in Europe for two years with Nick Lowe and acts Bram Tchaikovsky and Wreckless Eric; during this period Eric worked on Danish, German and British rock stages, returned to Boston and formed The Atomics.

As a founding member of Boston’s legendary pop/new wave cult trio “The Atomics”, who toured non-stop with Mission of Burma, Gang of Four and The Dead Kennedy’s and were on the leading edge of several musical transformations, Eric never lost sight of his acoustic roots, returning to his heroes and mentors often: David Bromberg, Steve Howe(YES), Duane Allman (Allman Bros.), Bert Jansch, Davy Graham, Robert Johnson. Mr. Sommer’s current project with power trio “The Solar Flares” shake up Chet Atkins and David Bromberg’s influences with those of Randy Travis and British Rocker Elvis Costello – a remarkable mix.

And to keep track of it all, Eric started keeping notes, which evolved from napkin scribbles to paper and pen efforts, writing stories, making poetry and capturing the roads and bridges as they went by, plus people, places and… more people which become his notes, then become characters for songs, stories, and prose.

Eric currently has four volumes of verse, 5 studio albums, a LIVE in AUSTIN DVD as well as an electronica project titled “The Smallest Particle” and more on the way… this blog is an attempt to keep track of it all…

Amen.

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You can reach Eric directly at ericATericsommer.com and see more of his projects here on this website. Red Chairs, Black Pancake and Blue Turtle are all available here, as well as all current releases. Please share and comment below.

letter
box arrives
opening the box...
a 1971 Strat
two strats together
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