Since forming 18 years ago, the Bay Area—based Tommy Castro Band has played over 30 gigs in San Diego. Last Friday’s Belly Up show was in peril because guitarist Tommy Castro had his 1966 Fender Stratocaster stolen four days earlier. (Castro’s sound man had left it in his car.)
“It was like losing a member of my family,” says Castro. Also stolen was a Fender Strat from the ’70s and a custom guitar given to him by Fender (his sponsor).
“I never had them appraised because I would never dream of selling them, but collectors told me the three were worth between $15,000 and $20,000. That ’66 Strat was on every record I ever made.”
The day after the guitars were stolen, Castro contacted Barney Roach, a longtime local collector and contributor to Vintage Guitar magazine who in turn contacted other collectors via the Internet. A person who saw the alert discovered them in a San Rafael pawn shop the day after they were stolen. (Castro lives in San Rafael.) The pawn-shop owner paid $400 for all three.
“I could have jammed the guy up,” says Castro. If he had reported the guitars stolen, police would have confiscated them for evidence and the shop owner would have lost his $400. Instead, Castro paid the shop owner the $400 so he could have his guitars for last week’s Belly Up show.
“The cops said I was an idiot for paying the money, but I had to have them back.”
Not as lucky was local multi-instrumentalist Robin Henkel, whose metal Dobro, ’70s Stratocaster, and ’40s-era Recording King (“One of the first electric guitars made”) were stolen from his Scripps Ranch home two years ago.
“The police use serial numbers. Two of them did not have serial numbers. I think I’ll never see them again.… You can see all three of my guitars on my website (robinhenkel.com).”
– Ken Leighton