5 Years Ago: Jimmy Page’s Long Lost Guitar Resurfaces In MN
When you think Led Zepplin one probably thinks about Jimmy Page and his guitar playing. Well Jimmy Page in 1970, after rocking the ol' Met in Bloomington, had his personal unicorn guitar, a 1960 Les Paul Custom Gibson, stolen from him while it was at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport while heading on to the next leg of the tour in Montreal. Flash forward to 2015, when the missing guitar becomes reunited with Page, only no one heard about it from Page himself at the time. Where was the guitar for the last 45 years? We now have some idea.
According to LedZepNews.com "The 1960 Gibson Les Paul was Page’s main session guitar from 1962 to 1967 and was also used during the early years of Led Zeppelin." After the guitar was taken it had been disguised by the thief. "The last photo of the guitar in Page’s possession showed that he added two more toggle switches before its theft. In the decades the guitar has been missing, the extra two toggle switches have been removed."
According to this Star Tribune piece on the lost Page guitar, the thief, a baggage handler at the airport made modifications to the guitar, like removing toggles and covering some of the mothers of pearl inlays in the frets up, but forgot about the serial number. So in 1992, a man who claims to have bought the guitar from the thief's widow brought it to a shop in Minneapolis. The shop owner was told it's Jimmy Page's guitar. After buying the guitar off the stranger the guitar store owner gets in touch with Page's people, who tell him regardless of the serial number, the guitar isn't Page's.
The store owner thinking it isn't the stolen guitar sold it to a store employee who is also a musician. The employee then plays the guitar for the next 22 years, leaving it in bars for multiple night shows, etc.
In 2014, the guitar needs some basic repair and the musician/employee brings the guitar back to get repaired. The store owner at this point is still curious about the possibility of it being Page's long lost guitar, so he inspects the guitar under black light. As he is examining the guitar he finds the remnants of the two toggle switches and covered up the mother of pearl on the 12th fret. BINGO it is Jimmy Page's lost guitar.
The owner got in contact with some of Page's people and returned the guitar to Page where it now sits in the New York Metropolitan Museum as part of a featured exhibit.
You can get into all of the details by reading the Star Tribune piece, I just thought what an amazing Minnesota music story we never knew anything about until 5 years after the fact!