R.E.M. Guitarist Peter Buck Recalls Biker Gang Retrieving His Stolen Guitar

by Maria Hartfield
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Co-founder and lead guitarist for the American rock band R.E.M. Peter Buck is the ultimate rock legend. Throughout his journey with R.E.M., as well as his subsequent solo career, Buck holds a library of wild tales from his days in the spotlight.

Recently, Peter Buck reunited with his favorite guitar despite its disappearance in 2008 in which someone stole the famed instrument. At the time, Buck didn’t disclose the full details behind the theft.

In an interview with the Daily Express, Buck revealed what actually happened at the time of the event. Apparently, someone close to R.E.M. took the guitar off the stage when the band was in Finland. Not only did they steal the instrument, but they also demanded a ransom of 100,000 euros for its return. Luckily, a gang of bikers intervened and were able to secure the guitar’s safe return.

“It was an inside job, and I was furious,” Buck said of the incident. “While our legal team was working it out, some fearsome fellows were riding around on motorbikes, explaining to people we thought were connected to the theft, ‘Somebody knows something, and we’re going to find out.’ [So] we explained to the idiot who stole the guitar, ‘If you “find” this guitar, you get to be the good guy, and you can have 10,000 euros. But if you press on, that’s extortion, and you’ll get up to 30 years in prison.’ He took the 10,000 euros.”

Peter Buck’s Legendary Guitar Lives On

Peter Buck went on to say he “felt bad” about the treatment of his precious guitar which is a Rickenbacker 360. He used this specific guitar on every R.E.M. album. He purchased the Rickenbacker 360 after two of his other guitars were stolen.

“I had to play it and sweat on it again, as I’d been thinking, ‘Some real scumbag has held this for a week,’” he said. “The Beatles, the Who, and the Byrds played Rickenbackers, so to me, it seemed like the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll guitar. But when I started to play guitar in the ‘70s, I don’t recall ever seeing one. You just couldn’t find them in the south of the United States, where I grew up.”

Peter Buck’s rise to fame was mostly due to his part in the legendary alt-rock band R.E.M. in the 80s. Unfortunately, the group disbanded after their 2011 album Collapse Into Now. Shortly thereafter, Buck decided to continue pursuing his own musical path. He released a few solo works before joining forces with fellow rocker Corin Tucker from Sleater-Kinney to form Filthy Friends. They came out with an album titled Emerald Valley in a record of only 10 days!

“If you have good players and you know what you’re doing and you have a feel for it — it’s not that hard,” said Buck in an interview with Salon.

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