This is a true story. I had saved for weeks to buy a Hofner semi-acoustic bass someone told me about, from a shop in Worthing. I bought it, and it sounded beautiful, a real 'sir' with a tone like the bass strings of a piano. Unfortunately for live gigs I had to stuff it with cotton wool because it fed back dreadfully.
That summer, The Chefs played at an all-day festival at the University of Sussex. It really over-ran- a band called Gong would not get off the stage and our guitarist Carl got up on stage and started getting really annoyed. I leaned the bass on his Mini and rushed up to calm the storm. When I got back, my beautiful bass had vanished. Some students had seen it happen and had taken down the registration number of the car it had gone off in.
It was awful- I had to borrow bass guitars off people who very kindly lent them, for gigs. I couldn't afford another one and it hadn't been insured (couldn't afford that either). One guy phoned the shop I was working in and said the police had been on to him as he had a very similar guitar, and could I stop them from harassing him. I was in the pub ith Dougie one evening and he said he knew who had it, and I could get it back if I kept the police out of it. He told me some Hells Angels had been at the gig and stolen my guitar, and he told me which pub they drank at. I asked him to tell them that it was really mean to steal from me, as I had no money to replace the guitar, and they couldn't sell it anyway, as there were so few of them around that everyone would know it was mine. Each evening, I went and stood outside their pub, but they were big and scary and I was small and scared.
Then one day, I was sitting waiting to do a gig with a borrowed bass, and my brother walked into the pub with... my beautiful bass guitar! I had thought I would never see it again and it was really weird to hold it in my hands once more.
He had been on his way back home to get changed for our gig, and had seen a woman walking into the police station with it under her arm. 'That's my sister's bass!'
She had been sunbathing in the park and had found it under a bush. He persuaded her not to hand it in, because the police would have hung on to it and I wouldn't have been able to play it that night. So it came back- via my brother. The Hells Angels must have realised that they couldn't sell it, and just dumped it.
Quite soon afterwards, I did manage to buy another one- a horrid violin bass which (sorry Paul McCartney) looked a bit like a giant wooden spoon when I played it. My beautiful Hofner spent a lot of time tucked up next to me in bed after that, but now it lives on the wall where I can keep an eye on it.