John Fogerty was still in his pajamas on Christmas morning when he noticed that the last remaining present under the tree was unusually large and covered up in one of his trademark plaid shirts. On his wife’s urging, he removed the shirt and began peeling back the wrapping paper, revealing a Rickenbacker guitar case. Tears began welling up as he realized what he was about to see. “I was immediately struck dumb,” Fogerty says. “I turned to my wife and said, ‘Am I about to get overwhelmed here?'” He opened the guitar case and began sobbing uncontrollably.
Inside was a 1969 Rickenbacker 325 Sunburst guitar with the word “ACME” written on the head in yellow paint. The guitar was Fogerty’s main instrument during the peak of his Creedence Clearwater Revival days and the one he played onstage at Woodstock, The Ed Sullivan Show and countless concerts all over the world. Many of his most famous tunes were written and recorded on it, including “Green River,” “Travelin’ Band” and “Up Around The Bend,” but it had been out of his hands for 43 years. “I never imagined I’d see it again,” he tells Rolling Stone. “Eventually these things, like works of art, end up getting bought by some billionaire and go into some secret closet so nobody can know about it.” Now, Fogerty has been reunited with the long-lost instrument.
Fogerty first got a Rickenbacker in 1967 when he was still on active duty in the Army. His brother Tom traded in a couple of Fenders and a Supro for a black 325 Rickenbacker, which was loosely known as the John Lennon Model. Fogerty played it on “Suzie Q,” “I Put A Spell On You” and nearly every other song on CCR’s 1968 debut LP, but he quickly grew frustrated with the whammy bar. During a show at New York’s Fillmore East, he saw a 12-year-old boy hanging around backstage. He called him onstage, played a final song on the guitar and then handed it to him.