Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I feel horrible telling this story. I've always felt like I did something wrong and wish I could fix it. Back in about 1983 I lived in the little town of Enid, OK, having just flunked out of Phillips University and not yet ready to move back to reality. They just opened a real live honest to goodness mall out on the edge of town and everyone was buzzing. I got a job at Hastings Records and thought I was pretty cool. I was the guy at the record store in the mall. Our regional manager was a pretty cool guy named Jerry from Dallas, TX and he would come check on our store quite often. We had an issue with an employee that was stealing out of the register (as it turns out) and they were trying to figure out what the hell was going on. I got along with Jerry really well...we both had a pretty sarcastic sense of humor and really loved music and knowing about music and all that geeky stuff that makes someone a good record store person.
I played guitar at the time, but was still in my very beginning stages. I had a pretty cheap Fender acoustic and didn't know much about quality instruments. One day Jerry walks into the store carrying a guitar case and says that he has this interesting Gibson that I could use if I wanted to. It was unlike any other guitar I'd played and, to be honest, didn't sound that good or play that well. What I now know is that it probably just needed some new strings and a set-up. I had the guitar for quite awhile and Jerry never really asked about it.
I guess I kind of figured it was pretty much mine, but in the back of my mind I knew it was still Jerry's guitar.
As it turns out, the guitar was a Gibson MK-35, or Mark 35, and was part of a new series that very much departed from traditional designs. The bridge was very different and modern looking and the soundhole had a sort of plastic ridge around it. From doing a little research I now also know that it had a completely different bracking system and, although pretty much a failure with the public, it gained quite a following with the Nashville picking community at the time for it's sound. They only made the Mark series from '75-78 from what I can tell. There were a few other Mark series models as well, featuring nicer woods and more elaborate features as you went up the scale.
So, fast forward a short period of time and I happen to walk into a little guitar store in Enid and fall in love with a 1984 Ovation Collector's Series guitar...what did I know? Although I'm not much of an Ovation fan now, I sure fell head over heals for it at the time. Blame it on Glen Campbell probably. You can read the story of this guitar here. So I start figuring out how I'm going to come up with the money for it and decide maybe I can trade in the Gibson. I guess I must have talked myself into believing Jerry wouldn't want it back. I just wanted that damn Ovation. Now fast forward again another short period of time and Jerry asks me about the Gibson. I didn't know what to say, but finally stammered something about it being gone and sold and I didn't know he wanted it back and whatever else came out of my mouth. Jerry looked bummed. Super bummed. I guess he also didn't know what to say and for whatever reason just let it go. Not much else we could do at that point.
So for all these years I have felt like I owe Jerry a Gibson MK-35. I came across the one shown in the pictures at my local guitar store, Buffalo Brothers, and it reminded me of the whole thing. I may have been subconsciously blocking it all these years. So Jerry, if you're out there, shoot me an email so I can properly apologize. I was young. I was dumb. I still feel bad.