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 became 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 which Lowe’s Music told me was called a Fender Stratocaster. They also claimed that they could get me one in about four weeks. Man, I wanted that guitar, but where the hell was a kid like me gonna come up with $473.00. Lowe’s saved the day by taking my trumpet in on trade and then putting me on their $14 a month payment plan. Can you even imagine how excited I was the day Lowes called to say that my Strat had arrived? I was back at the store in no time and as I stood in front of the mirror, with my new guitar strapped on, (pictured above) staring back at me, was a “Rock Star.” Hey, I’ll have this thing paid off in no time.
After buying a couple of guitar books and spending hours and hours just trying to learn how to play a few chords, I soon discovered that dreaming about becoming a “guitar man” was a hell of a lot easier than learning how to be one. All I had to show for my efforts so far were bleeding finger tips.
Ahh but then fate stepped in as it has many times during my life. Out of the blue, I got a call from Shayne inviting me to join his group called the Devines and within a couple of weeks, I was on stage in a talent show and also booked for a car club dance. The neat thing about the car club dance was we were going to get paid and even though I was still learning to play, I became a professional musician the moment we were paid. I was unplugged at the start of my musical career just as I was some 30 years later when it ended, that though is another story for another chapter.
When I bought my Stratocaster in 1958, it turned out to be one of my better investments. Hearing that you should rid yourself of anything you haven’t used in six months, I realized that I hadn’t even seen my guitar, let alone play it for over thirty or more years, it was time to move on. My friend Randy Bachman, (The Guess Who & BTO) had been after me for years to sell it to him so I got a hold of him and while we were putting the deal together the neatest thing happened. While putting the deal together, Randy mentioned that when he was opening for Neil Young recently and they were backstage talking about the old Winnipeg days, Neil said, “George had one of the first cool guitars in Winnipeg.”
The value of a ’58 “Strat” today, 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 it refurbished which he claims diminished the value. I guess like a car, you should also never sell a guitar to a friend.