Joe Bonamassa's Guitar Safaris: You, Me, and Terry Reid…

Greetings fellow guitar enthusiasts, hobbyists, and innocent bystanders.
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Greetings fellow guitar enthusiasts, hobbyists, and innocent bystanders. Today we have the story about how I met one of my idols and bought one of the coolest guitars in my collection. We are talking about Terry Reid’s old highly modified 1952 Fender Telecaster that he bought in Chicago, circa 1968, while he was the support act for Cream’s final U.S. tour. Now for those of you wondering, “Who is Terry Reid?”, Terry is one of the most talented singers, songwriters, and artists I know. His music was way ahead of its time and his voice is a mix of Steve Marriott and Sam Cooke. (Check out “Seed of Memory” or “To Be Treated.” It’s all good.)

Last summer I got a call from a guitar dealer buddy of mine asking if I had any interest in Terry Reid’s guitar. I told him that of course I would love to own it, but even more so, if nothing else, just to meet the guy who gave a young David Lindley one of his first professional gigs. (Check out Terry Reid at Glastonbury circa 1970.) I agreed to a price and asked, “So, how do we get the guitar?” We couldn’t get in touch with Terry for several days, and I figured the guitar had been sold or had fallen into the vortex of lost-and-never-found guitars. But that same evening, while scrolling through my Facebook email (yes, I personally check it), I saw a message from a friend asking me if I would be interested in Terry’s old guitar. I replied, “Yes, but he can’t be reached so I guess it’s not available.” Long story short, my friend responded with Terry’s cell phone number and, lo and behold, I was speaking to him within minutes. We set a time the next day for me to drive way out into the desert to meet him and check out the guitar.

The following day I set out in my car from Los Angeles to Palm Desert. When I left my house the temperature was 82 degrees (mind you, it is August). As I approached the freeway exit in Palm Desert, it was a balmy 112! I find Terry’s house, knock on the door, and there he is—one of my musical heroes and a super nice guy. I say, “Is it always this hot?” He replies, “Nah… it’s kind of cool today.” For the next two hours Terry shared stories of the road, photos with Jimi Hendrix, and a glimpse into a time that I wish I had lived in: London in the late ’60s. He was asked to join the New Yardbirds but recommended Robert Plant. He was asked to join Deep Purple but chose to follow his own musical path, something I respect a great deal. Countless tales of hanging with the Beatles and just being part of a very special time in rock and roll. As it came time to leave I realized just how attached he was to the guitar, so I told him that it will forever be at his disposal and it will always be his—I will just look after it for a while. I gave him a big hug and said goodbye. I’m honored to have it and even more honored to call him my friend. Cheers, Terry. You are a superstar. This is one of the greatest guitar safaris of my life. (P.S. That humbucker has been in there for 45 years. Terry had it installed at Manny’s on the Cream tour. How cool is that?!)

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