” STRAT ME UP “
Bought me a Stratocaster
and put it in tune
Started singing with the “Devines.”
the next afternoon.
Became “Shayne and The Rebel Raiders.”
a real rockin’ band
But when we morphed to the Phantoms
we got a lot more fans
Elvis was the one who turned me on to guitars, but Buddy Holly (pictured above) played the one I wanted. Lowe’s Music told me that it was called a Fender Stratocaster and said that they could have one for me in about two weeks. Man, I wanted that guitar, but it cost $473.00. Where the hell was a kid like me gonna come up with that kinda dough? Lowe’s saved the day by putting me on their $14 a month payment plan (I just ignored how long that would take to pay off). You can’t even imagine how excited I was the day the music store called and said, “Your Stratocaster is in.” Once back at Lowe’s, I stood in front of the mirror, strapped on my new guitar, and there staring back at me, was a “Rock Star.” Next, I bought a couple of guitar books and spent hours and hours trying to learn a few chords. However, I soon discovered that dreaming about becoming a “guitar man” was a lot easier than learning how to be one. So far, all I had to show for my efforts, were bleeding fingers.
Out of the blue one day, I received a surprise call from Shayne inviting me to join his group. Within weeks of becoming one of the Divines, I was already on stage in a talent show and booked for a car club dance. Even though I still couldn’t play the guitar, I became a professional musician the moment they paid us I was unplugged for the start of my musical career as I was when it ended some 30 years later. That, though, is another chapter for another time.
When I bought my Stratocaster in 1958, that purchase turned out to be one of my better investments. Knowing that you should rid yourself of anything you haven’t used in six months, In 2015 I realized that I hadn’t even seen my guitar, let alone played it for ten years. It was time to move on so I sold it to Randy Bachman (The Guess Who & BTO).
While putting the deal together, Randy mentioned that Neil Young had recently told him, “George had one of the first cool guitars in Winnipeg.” The value of a ’58 “Strat” is all over the place, so Randy and I settled on a price somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, he is now pissed at me because he didn’t realize that in 1965 that I had refurbished it, which he claims diminished the value. I guess like a car, you should also never sell a guitar to a friend.