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Music

R.E.M's Peter Buck recalls how stolen guitar was returned by a Finnish biker gang

@SamWKemp

Peter Buck of R.E.M recently regaled how his favourite guitar was stolen by an acquaintance and miraculously found its way back to him after it was returned by a Finnish biker gang. Buck has played his beloved Jetglo 360 Rickenbacker throughout his career with R.E.M, so was relieved to have the guitar safely returned.

Speaking in an interview ahead of the release of the new book Rickenbacker Guitars: Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fireglo by Martin and Paul Kelly, Buck recalled how his own Jetglo 360 – which he used for every single R.E.M album – was taken hostage by an associate of the band during a 2008 gig in Finland, who then requested a one million dollar ransom.

Remembering that night, Buck said: “It was an inside job and I was furious.” Thankfully, help was close at hand, as he explained: “While our legal team were working it out, some fearsome fellows were riding around on motorbikes, explaining to people we thought connected to the theft, ‘Somebody knows something and we’re going to find out’,” Buck recalled.

Buck then went on to contact the thief: “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. But if you press on, that’s extortion and you’ll get up to 30 years in prison.’ He took the €10,000″.

Buck clarified, adding: “When I got [the guitar] back, I felt bad about that black Ricky for a few days. I had to play it and sweat on it again, as I’d been thinking, ‘Some real scumbag has held this for a week.’”

When the guitar was returned to him in 2008, Buck was keen to keep the identity of the rescuers a secret, remarking that the guitar had been found by an “anonymous source” and that it was “great to have it back in my hands”. Bertis Downs, R.E.M’s then-manager added: “We were always hopeful it would turn up, and thanks to the efforts of a lot of people, we are thrilled to have it back in Peter’s possession. We are grateful and very happy that it worked out this way.”

Meanwhile, Michael Stipe, R.E.M’s frontman recently shut down rumours of the group’s reunion in a radio interview, in which he said: “We will never reunite. We decided when we split up that that would just be really tacky and probably money-grabbing, which might be the impetus for a lot of bands to get back together. We don’t really need that, and I’m really happy that we just have the legacy of the 32 years of work that we have,” Stipe concluded.