Country Artist Joe Ely Reunited With His Guitar Stolen 27 Years Ago

Joe Ely had a bittersweet reunion with his stolen guitar of 27 years recently. Photo courtesy of

Sometimes there are happy endings in the business, and for Joe Ely it’s looking like he’s going to get a small taste of one. 27 years ago one of his custom guitars was stolen, and it sounds like it was definitely unique. The theme of the solid body electric guitar was billiards, with pool ball inlays and a pool table felt blue color, according to an article in the LA TImes. I thought you might enjoy reading the story about Joe Ely and his reunion; unfortunately the story is bitter sweet due to the surprise at the end of the story. Nonetheless, it’s a great opportunity to support one of the country songwriters and guitarists of old as he still hits the road playing gigs all around the country for fans. Check out the info before for more insight on the story and a special live performance of his biggest hit song, “Me and Billy the Kid.” I hope you enjoy it all as much as I did.

The Los Angeles Times released an article about the reunion of Joe Ely and his custom billiards themed guitar that he lost 27 years ago. I shared some of the article, but enjoy the full article at,0,7713031.story.

Ely had a one-of-a-kind custom guitar stolen from him 27 years ago, and he recently learned that it had turned up. On Tuesday night at a gig in San Francisco, the instrument was returned to him by Matt Wright of Merced, Calif., who’d bought it at a pawn shop years earlier, discovering later who the rightful owner was.

“It was amazing,” Ely, 66, told Pop & Hiss on Wednesday. “The guy came and brought the guitar yesterday, and presented it to me onstage last night” during his performance at the club Slim’s. “After he told the whole story onstage, we figured out where the guitar had been stolen, and it was only about three blocks from Slim’s.”

The stolen guitar was a solid-body electric made for him by Austin, Texas, guitar maker Ted Newman-Jones, who, at Ely’s request, created an instrument with a billiards theme that was painted pool table felt blue and with pool ball-shaped inlays on the neck.

Ely said that when Wright presented it to him, it looked “exactly the same” as when he’d seen it last, “right down to the broken hinge on the case.”

For those of you who may not be familiar with the music of Joe Ely, I found a great live performance where he performs one of his biggest hit songs, “Me and Billy the Kid,” at a songwriter’s conference. I wish Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt would have joined in as they are sharing the bandstand, but I suppose I can’t have everything I want. Enjoy the performance at

I hope you enjoyed reading this story about Joe Ely’s reunion and the solo performance of one of his biggest hit songs. Subscribe now to Mike’s Guitar Talk to hear more news as it happens in the guitar world.

Thanks and stay tuned for more!


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