Pop Life

Six-String Pawn Stars: Top 10 Famous Stolen Guitars

Tom Petty got a real kick in the balls late last week when he discovered that his vintage blond 1967 12-string Rickenbacker and his Gibson SGTV Junior had been stolen from a California soundstage where the Heartbreakers had been rehearsing for an upcoming tour. Three other vintage guitars owned by band members were taken, too.

It's an age-old story in rock and roll: Any guitar worth a damn seems to get run off with sooner or later. It's just too easy to turn quality instruments over for fast cash, and junkies, bums and other broke-asses can't seem to help themselves.


Legend has it that the Sex Pistols' Steve Jones kept his pals supplied with great gear in the '70s, that he stole from everybody from Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars to Bob freaking Marley.

Crappy as he probably feels right now -- though better since police arrested a suspect Tuesday --- Petty's in good company. Some of the most iconic guitars in rock history have been ripped off over the years, and not many of them ever resurface.

Have a listen to 10 of the most famous below, and if you see and/or hear any of these missing instruments, please do the right thing and turn them in at the Houston Press offices downtown. No questions asked.

10. Jimmy Page's Black Beauty: This 1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty was used by Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page throughout much of his '60s session work. It can be seen in action at Royal Albert Hall on the Led Zeppelin DVD, which we highly recommend you check out.

The striking guitar disappeared from the airport as the band was headed to Canada in April 1970. Page took out an ad in Rolling Stone offering a reward for its recovery, but the Black Beauty is gone for good, it seems.

9. Paul McCartney's Hofner Violin Bass: The Cute Beatle made this violin-shaped, semi-acoustic bass world famous, meaning it was worth a rather pretty penny to somebody. McCartney played two of these models during the height of Beatlemania: his original 1961 model, and an updated 1962 model.

He can be seen rocking the '61 in the "Revolution" promo clip above before the instrument was nicked during the Let it Be sessions. Hasn't been seen since.

8. BB King's Lucille Prototype:Las Vegas guitar collector Eric Dahl's eyes bugged out of his head when he stumbled across this dream guitar at a pawn shop in 2009. The custom Gibson ES-345 had seen some wear and had "Prototype-1" stamped where the serial number should have been.

It'd been given to blues icon B.B. King by Gibson on the occasion of his 80th birthday and been his main gigging axe for years when it was ripped off the previous summer. Dahl got his own custom B.B. King Lucille and a hell of a story when he returned the guitar to its proper owner.

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Nathan Smith
Contact: Nathan Smith