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Joe Ely Reunited With a Guitar Stolen from Him 27 Years Ago

Joe Ely's Custom Pool Table Guitar
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Joe Ely has to admit to being a very lucky man. After all, being a talented musician and being able make a career of that talent are two very good reasons for feeling lucky. But this week, Joe’s luck reached another rather unexpected level, when he was reunited with a guitar that was stolen from him nearly three decades ago.

The legendary Texas country singer from Lubbock broke the exciting news on his Facebook page:

after 28 years of this Newman guitar being lost , it is being returned to Joe Ely tonite at Slims in San francisco…. it was stolen along with all joe ely band equipment in san francisco 28 years ago ….and by some miracle of Facebook and a series of happenings , the guitar has found it’s happy owner, JOE ELY once again. Mat has played it for 28 years after buying it from a pawn shop…..all hands up for Mat for returning this guitar.

This isn’t just any guitar. Ely’s axe was custom designed in Austin to resemble a pool table, complete with with felt-colored paint and pool-ball inlays. The one-of-a-kind guitar disappeared from an equipment truck, along with all the band’s gear, while Ely was on tour in San Francisco in 1986.

According to SFWeekly, Joe’s management heard from a musician who explained that he’d bought Ely’s guitar in a pawn shop around 2 decades ago, and only recently discovered that it’d been stolen. The man, Matt Wright from Merced, California, just wanted to return the guitar to its rightful owner.

Ely’s response?

“I was just dumbfounded. I said ‘Are you sure?’ and then he sent me an email with pictures of the guitar, and you know it’s unmistakable.”

While I love this story, and get a warm fuzzy feeling at the thought that someone would go to such lengths to return a guitar after so long, I can’t stop wondering about the story behind the design of the guitar. Joe explains:

“Pool has always been my only sport, if you can call it a sport. I’ve never played baseball or basketball, I’m a terrible golfer, and I don’t do much well. But I play pool well.”

Fair enough. Congratulations, Joe!

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