In 1976, thanks to the mega-selling Frampton Comes Alive! the angelic, curly-haired image of Peter Frampton was everywhere. So, too, was that of the guitar he played at the time: a 1954 black Les Paul Custom.
But in 1980, the guitar was suddenly nowhere. After a cargo plane carrying Frampton's gear crashed on takeoff in Caracas, Venezuela, on its way to Panama, the Les Paul was thought to have been burned, along with all of the other equipment, in the wreckage.
As it turns out, somebody grabbed the guitar and sold it to a musician on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao. For decades, Frampton thought about his beloved instrument, and now, after 31 years, it's back in his possession.
Credit goes to a Frampton fan named Ghatim Kabbara, who also works for the Curaçao Tourist Board. Kabbara acquired the guitar from the musician who bought it and sent it to the Gibson Custom Shop in Nashville. Once the Les Paul authenticated, Kabbara then hand-delivered the instrument to Frampton, who was blown away. (See photo #2 in our gallery.)
"I am still in a state of shock, first off, that the guitar even exists, let alone that it has been returned to me," Frampton said in a statement. "I know I have my guitar back, but I will never forget the lives that were lost in this crash. I am so thankful for the efforts of those who made this possible.
"And now that it is back, I am going insure it for two million dollars, and it's never going out of my sight again! It was always my number one guitar, and it will be reinstated there as soon as possible - some minor repairs are needed."