By Christopher Scapelliti
This past weekend, country music icon “Whisperin’ Bill” Anderson was reunited with his old Grammer acoustic after a 50-year separation. The reunion took place on the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville, where it was captured in the video shown below.
Back in 1965, Anderson and Billy Grammer were up-and-coming country music singers when Grammer decided to launch a line of high-end acoustic guitars bearing his name. He gave a few to his friends in the business, including Anderson, hoping they’d help popularize the brand.
Anderson played his Grammer for the next five years as his star continued to rise, using it on the Opry stage and during his appearances on The Johnny Carson Show.
And then he lost it. “I wondered sometimes if I donated it to a museum or something,” he tells the Opry audience. “I don’t remember, actually, what happened to it. For nearly 50 years, I did not know where that guitar was.”
Then last month, Anderson got an email from Mike Grauer, owner of Bell Road Pawn in Phoenix, Arizona. Grauer had purchased a Grammer from a customer and found an inscription inside—“This guitar belongs to Bill Anderson.” Both Grauer and his wife were fans, Grauer explained to Anderson, and he wanted to know if he had one of the country icon’s guitars.
After examining a few pictures of the instrument, Anderson confirmed it was his. But, he explained to Grauer, he was in no position to pay an exorbitant amount of money to get it back. That was fine with Grauer. He and his wife were about to celebrate a wedding anniversary, and he would happily return it in person for the price of two backstage passes to the Opry.
“That just restored my faith in humanity,” Anderson tells the audience. “You read and hear so much in the news about things that are bad and people that are negative, and then somebody turns around and does a beautiful, generous thing like this. I bought him a plane ticket as fast as I could!”
On August 8, Anderson and his guitar were reunited on the Opry stage. Afterward, Anderson and Jamey Johnson performed their duet “The Guitar Song,” about a guitar that hangs on the wall of a pawn shop, away from the stages where it “did some shows with Haggard back” and “helped to heal some heartaches” and “sell some beer.”
“I want you to listen to the words of this,” Anderson tells the audience before playing the song. “This was written eight years ago, and here we are tonight, almost living this story of ‘The Guitar Song.’”