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Doug Clark: The story of how a great guitar found its way home

Much has been written about the bond between a boy and his mutt. But that’s a marriage on the rocks compared to the bind that ties an old rocker to his beloved ax.

And so it is with Pierre Glindeman and Boomer.

That’s the name Glindeman bestowed on his tobacco-sunburst ’69 Gibson Les Paul electric guitar. He bought the vintage instrument when it wasn’t vintage at all, in a Bay Area music store in 1972.

Nixon was president. Watergate was looming.

And Glindeman carted Boomer all over the landscape, playing the guitar before thousands when his power trio, Driver, was signed to A&M Records in 1977.

“Part of the family,” declared the now 67-year-old of his guitar. “As soon as I picked it up, I knew I had to have it.”

Bobby Kluss, who manages the extensive Music Corner at the North Division Pawn 1 store, estimated Boomer’s worth to be in the cozy $10,000-to-$12,000 neighborhood, even with its player-made buckle rash and assorted imperfections.

All the more reason that Pierre and Karol, Glindeman’s wife of 47 years, were devastated one day last November when they discovered that Boomer was gone.

Further investigation showed evidence of a basement window break-in. Someone had come into their North Side home while they were gone and snatched Boomer along with another guitar, an Epiphone of much less value and sentimentality.

“I was so depressed,” Glindeman said. “I just sat staring at the wall. It’s easy to go over the edge when you feel violated. You get that sick feeling that won’t go away.”

The Rock Gods, however, were looking out for this guitarist.

Against long odds, Boomer came back to Glindeman in a handoff that took place Sunday before last in a north Spokane parking lot.

Glindeman had already spent countless hours haunting music stores and spreading the word about his loss, but to no avail.

He credits Kluss for making things happen by posting an effective Craigslist advertisement. The ad featured a photograph of Glindeman from back in the day. It showed the young-and-wooly haired guitarist playing Boomer with a fevered abandon.

Kluss also included some of the guitar’s history along with how much it meant to Glindeman and an appeal to get it back home.

“I tried to make it more of a story,” Kluss said. “And I’m so happy for Pierre. He’s been a good customer for a long time.”

Kluss paused.

“Making his day a little better – that’s what it’s all about.”

Glindeman said the Craigslist ad reached out and plucked the heartstrings of a 60-something man who said his name was Mark. The vintage Les Paul he paid someone $700 for was, in fact, stolen property, he realized.

Mark did the right thing,” Glindeman said. He called and arranged a handoff.

The most impressive thing of all is that the man refused to accept any money. “I whipped out my wallet and he put up his hands,” Glindeman said.

The man even turned down the $1,000 reward offered in the ad. (I tried to find out more about Mark, but he didn’t return my phone call.)

“He said it just made him feel good to give it back,” Glindeman said. “I started crying. This thing has been very stressful for me.”

I know exactly how he feels.

Back when my son, Ben, was a Ferris High School student, burglars broke into the house his punk band, The Stoics, was using as a rehearsal studio.

The thief or thieves snatched a number of amplifiers and pieces of sound gear. What hurt the most, though, was losing the vintage ’66 Fender Mustang guitar that my lovely wife, Sherry, and I had bought our son for Christmas.

Just like the Glindemans, however, luck was on our side.

Ben got his guitar back shortly after it was sold to the old Dutch’s pawn shop. The crime was never solved, but the guitar went on to travel with Ben when he was later signed to Columbia Records. He still has it today.

So, yeah, I do know that same sick and violated feeling that Glindeman felt when he asked Karol, “Where’s Boomer?”

Their ensuing search revealed the broken window and footprints on a wall.

This rip-off was so specific that Glindeman has a culprit in mind, a young rocker he met in a music store and invited into his home.

The thieving occurred just a day or so later.

This crime, too, may never be solved.

But who knows? While the other guitar remains in the wind, Glindeman is ecstatic to get Boomer back.

It’s a beauty, too. He let me pick it a bit during my visit with him.

Here’s a tip to young guitarists:

Want to find a great electric guitar? Don’t plug it in. Play it acoustically first. If the instrument resonates with a musical ring, if the notes sustain, you’ll know you’ve found a keeper.

Boomer has that mojo and magic, too.

And Glindeman is damn lucky to have it back.

There are a lot of sharks out there.

Like Mike, the stranger from Chicago who spotted the Craigslist ad and called the Glindemans with supposed good news.

He had Boomer, he claimed. All the couple had to do was to wire him some dough and he’d ship the guitar right back.

Except that Mike was real fuzzy about all those telltale dings and repairs that Glindeman knew like the face of his wife.

“As the day continued and many phone calls later, the anger displayed by the man made it apparent that this was a scam to get money out of us,” Glindeman told me. “We were heartbroken.”

But then everything changed the following day when Mark called with authentic good news.

Despite all the ups and downs, Glindeman claimed he never lost hope. “No sir. No sir,” he said. “I never gave up.”

Before I said goodbye, the couple told me that they’ve beefed up their home security.

They’re also going to be more careful about who they let into their home. Although, come to think of it, they let me in so maybe they still have a ways to go.

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