“Sometimes life gives you opportunities to right some wrongs”: Mark Tremonti reunited with “My Own Prison” Les Paul nearly 26 years after it was stolen

Mark Tremonti and Tim Tournier
(Image credit: Tim Tournier / Instagram)

Mark Tremonti celebrates his 50th birthday today and his manager, Tim Tournier, has got him the ultimate gift, reuniting the Creed/Alter Bridge guitarist with his long-lost 1986 Gibson Les Paul that was stolen in Boston in 1997 and hadn’t been seen since.

We thought we already had the lost and found electric guitar story of 2024, when Jerry Cantrell raised the thankfully false alarm over his “Blue Dress” G&L Rampage, but this takes the cake, and it is a remarkable find. Some might say impossible. But you never know in life, especially if you’ve got a top-tier artist manager looking out for you.

Tournier shared the story behind the prodigal Les Paul on his Instagram page, revealing that he got a lead on the guitar’s whereabouts 18 months ago, and somehow managed to keep all of this on the DL until today. 

“Sometimes life gives you opportunities to right some wrongs,” writes Tournier. “In this case, that opportunity presented itself via a Reddit DM about 18 months ago. A deal was made, hands got shook and I was able to get my buddy his 1986 Gibson with a stock Kahler back for his big 50th.”

Creed fans will know just how significant this guitar is. This was the one Tremonti played during the early days of the band, when tracking their 1997 debut album, My Own Prison. As Tournier says, “This is the My Own Prison guitar.”

Check out the footage below of Creed playing Say I in August ’97, the month My Own Prison debuted, as the buzz around them grew. It wouldn’t be long before Creed got huge. They were already packing out shows and working on follow-up album, Human Clay, and workshopping tracks such as Say I live in front of an audience.

But it wouldn’t be long before that guitar would be stolen. It wasn’t just Tremonti’s gear; everyone got ripped off as the band’s entire trailer was stolen. Speaking to Mistress Carrie of WAAF Boston in 2019 [video below], Stapp revealed how it all went down.

“We didn’t have a bus yet,” he said. “We were just getting started. We parked right in front of the hotel. We got out of the hotel the following morning and our van is on blocks, the wheels are gone, and the trailer has been taken off our van, the chains connecting it cut and the trailer… Gone! And so all our gear for the show that night was stolen.”

Stapp described Tremonti’s Les Paul as his “prized possession”, and although the trailer was found some miles away, none of the gear was. That night they had to play a show in Boston and ended up borrowing gear from Fuel, whom they were touring with. The show turned out to be a triumph. But Stapp says the search for the Les Paul never stopped. 

“Not only are you upset, but there was an emotional attachment to some of those instruments because we weren’t at a place yet where we had endorsements and tons of guitars,” said Stapp. “For years, for years, we have been trying to find it. Still, that Les Paul, as far as I know, that Les Paul has never been found.”

The contents of the trailer were the instruments of their childhood, the gear they mowed lawns for – or – in the case of Tremonti, worked at a car wash for

Tim Tournier

Until now, that is, and Tournier’s remarkable intervention. Never mind locating lost mandolin strings in the middle of Austin, this is next-level management. As Stapp alludes to, Tremonti might have a long-standing PRS signature guitar partnership but some guitars simply can’t be replaced.

“The contents of the trailer were the instruments of their childhood,” said Tournier, “the gear they mowed lawns for – or – in the case of Tremonti, worked at a car wash for.”

An ’86 Les Paul with a Kahler vibrato? That’s a lot of cars, a lot of T-Cut, and a lot of pruned fingers, and an incalculable amount of sentimental value. Tremonti looks in a state of shock in Tournier’s photo. He cannot believe it is back. We can’t either. Happy Birthday!

Update: Tremonti has just shared footage of the moment he received the guitar. See below.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.