Leroy Henry bought his brand new Dean Bel Air guitar at Billy's Band-Aid on Ave. Q in 1983 for $1,000 with the help of his dad. Although the store is now closed, Leroy planned to have the guitar forever but in 1986 his world was turned upside down.
"I was going to play a gig at a club called Dallas Nights, parked outside the building, walked out to get the back doors open, came out and the guitar was gone," said Henry.
For over two decades, he pestered friends with his story and wondered if he would ever see his guitar again, and then on Wednesday he took a trip to Guitar Center. He walked in to get equipment for his band "Sober by Sunday" and look at new 7-string guitars. After passing on the story of his lost guitar to a sales associate, he was reunited with his beloved instrument.
"I told him, 'We got a Dean Bel Air sitting over there on the wall. You should go play it for old times sake' and his face just went white," said Leighton Fields, a Guitar Center salesman. "He didn't really know what to say. He just stared at it for a while and said, 'It's a lot like my old guitar.'"
He put the serial number into a database and found out the guitar was made in 1983. Then another salesman who had purchased the guitar from an elderly couple said their son got the guitar in 1986, but that he had kept it under his bed until they decided to sell it. At that point, Henry was flooded with memories of his old guitar.
"He started noticing stuff about it that was really familiar to him, scratches on it and dings and the strap on the back of it. Then sure enough, he noticed a fade in the paint and he remembered it specifically," said Fields.
Henry bought the guitar immediately, forced to pay because he didn't have anything to verify it was stolen from him. Henry said he didn't mind and he left, grasping his guitar tightly to make sure it never was taken again. He said he couldn't help but get emotional.
"It was horrible. I wanted to cry. It was hard to fight back the tears. It was weird just to see it and know that I had it again," Henry said.
He will be debuting the guitar for a second time on April 5th when his band "Sober by Sunday" plays a show at Lone Star Oyster Bar on 34th Street and he says it will be a very emotional show.
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