Texas Legend Joe Ely was on cloud nine last night after the recovery of an instrument stolen from him 27 years ago in San Francisco only to fall victim to another theft in nearby Vallejo, California Wednesday.
Tuesday night at Slim’s in San Francisco, Ely was reunited with a custom Newman guitar which was stolen out of his tour van 27 years ago. Ironically, Slim’s is within three blocks of where Ely’s van was parked in 1986. The guitar found its way to a pawn shop where it was purchased by area musician Matt Wright, who, after he realized it had been stolen, wanted to return it to its rightful owner.
(see yesterday’s story in the SF Weekly at
On Wednesday Ely, his guitarist and road manager were victimized again while they were stopped for lunch at a Denny’s Restaurant in Vallejo.
Caught on Denny’s video camera is a man pulling up beside Ely’s van, smashing out the window behind the drivers seat, opening the door and grabbing whatever he could, including two laptop computers, an iPad and a briefcase filled with assorted electronics, passports and birth certificates.
To make matters worse, the Vallejo Police Department, underfunded and understaffed due to the city filing for bankruptcy, is unable to investigate the incident.
The incident stirs memories from the previous case which involved stolen guitars, assorted musical instruments, a road manager’s briefcase and travel itineraries. In that case, Ely began getting calls while traveling on the road to his hotel room at specific times — information only available on tour itineraries given to band members — from the perpetrator who was attempting to extort money from Ely to return the musical equipment.
Ely connected with the San Francisco Police Department who in turn traced the calls back to the San Francisco Police Department. Negotations fell apart and, until last night, nothing more was ever returned, though Ely did receive an apology letter from then-mayor Diane Feinstein.