April Wine frontman Myles Goodwyn got his 1962 Gibson Melody Maker back that was stolen in 1972. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

April Wine frontman gets beloved stolen guitar back after 46 years

HALIFAX — April Wine frontman Myles Goodwyn has a lot of catching up to do with his 1962 Gibson Melody Maker.

The beloved guitar — heard on the Halifax-based band’s 1972 hit “You Could Have Been a Lady” — was stolen that same year.

But on New Year’s Eve, Goodwyn got it back.

“It’s a chunk of life to lose, and all the records and all the success and 20 million records and all the things that we did — the great tours and the great recording moment — she missed them all,” said Goodwyn in an interview.

“So for this thing to come out of nowhere is unbelievable. How could that be kept a secret for 46 years? It’s remarkable.”

The 70-year-old musician and songwriter purchased the Melody Maker in 1968 in Cape Breton, and played it on the band’s debut self-titled record “April Wine” and on their sophomore album “On Record.”

In 1972, Goodwyn learned that a truck carrying the band’s equipment crashed in Montreal.

“I was told there was a lot of damage, that my guitar was destroyed. I wanted that guitar back. I wanted the pieces to see if I could fix it, salvage it, but I kept getting the run-around,” he said.

“After a few weeks of that, they said look, it’s not here. It was thrown out along with other things that were demolished. And I had to accept that.”

Goodwyn said he only had a few photos with the guitar that helped launch the iconic Canadian rock band’s illustrious and enduring career. One photo shows the rocker with long curly hair and wearing a white bejewelled shirt that was open, exposing his bare chest and a loosened tie.

“I’ve openly lamented that guitar for years,” he said.

It was one of a kind — Goodwyn had modified it to change the sound to suit his musical ear.

“It’s a terrible feeling to think it’s gone, because you become really attached to it,” he said.

“I don’t want to say it’s like a child or a loved one. That’s a little bit extreme. But it’s kind of like that … It’s losing something that was very, very important to you that meant something to you more than to anybody else, and it hurts, and there’s grieving.”

Fellow band member Brian Greenway, who had a look at the band’s damaged equipment at the time of the crash, had even validated the claim that the Melody Maker was demolished, saying that he thought he saw it amongst the wreckage.

“I was convinced that the guitar was destroyed,” said Goodwyn.

Flash forward to this Christmas Eve, a man named Doug from Victoria reached out to him on Facebook, saying he thought he had the cherished instrument.

“I followed up on it and sure enough, the guitar was mine. They sent me a picture of it and there’s no question, it’s a very unique guitar after what I had done to it,” he said.

Doug sold it to Goodwyn, and it arrived on New Year’s Eve.

He said the first thing he did was check the neck and electronics, and then plugged it in and strummed its six strings for the first time in more than four decades.

“It’s like I put it in the case yesterday,” said Goodwyn, surmising that it had not been played for all those years, given its pristine condition.

“It sounds the same … The last fella had it in his house as a conversation piece. That’s like putting an animal in a cage.”

Goodwyn said he hopes to learn more about the 1962 Gibson Melody Maker’s 46-year journey, saying there’s “a story that needs to be told.”

He also had a message to second-hand retailers and people using buy and sell websites across the country: If you suspect something has been stolen, report it.

Goodwyn is the last original member of April Wine, marking its 50th anniversary this year.

He plans to use the 1962 Gibson Melody Maker during the recording of his new album, a follow up to “Myles Goodwyn and Friends of the Blues.”

But don’t expect to see the guitar at one of his upcoming shows — unless he’s close to home.

“I can drive around the Maritimes and use it and I will if April Wine comes to town,” said Goodwyn, who also has a home in Montreal.

“But I am not putting it on a plane. I will never risk letting that guitar get away from me again. Never, ever.”

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