Mike Adams

Jeff Cummings drove over from Charlotte to join us the night before the wedding. It was just like old times. The trio had a mixture of two guitars and two strong voices. The one who didn’t play guitar shook a tambourine. The one who didn’t sing played his Lee Oscars. The wedding rehearsal gig went off nicely and we all went out to the beach bars afterwards.

Despite the fun we had, that guitar would just go back into the bedroom closet for another six years. Then, the day after Christmas of 2009, something strange happened. I was shopping at Best Buy with my brother David. He was showing my nephew Kevin some camera equipment he wanted to purchase for his recently rekindled interest in photography. It had been nearly three decades since I saw him with a camera. But suddenly he was diving head first back into his old hobby – something he had once considered doing for a living.

Later that afternoon, I headed from the Woodlands down to Clear Lake City. It was the place where I grew up, or at least tried to grow up. I was going to visit my old friend Terry Cohn. I picked up my oldest friend in the world, Jim Duke, on the way to Terry’s house. I had not seen Terry in years.

When we got there, Terry had to show me his new pride and joy. It was a vintage 1953 white guard Telecaster replica built by Big Tex guitars. Big Tex has made about a dozen guitars for Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. The Telecaster felt great in my hands and so I hardly noticed when Terry rolled out a vintage Fender tube amp. It was an old 1964 Fender Princeton Reverb fully restored. Terry had two of them and a 1965 Fender Deluxe Reverb. Actually he had more than that. He had more old restored guitars and amps than I could count. We played for a while and then went out to meet some old friends. Most of our friends were also old 1960s models but not all of them had been fully restored. While we were out I almost wished I was back at Terry’s playing that old Telecaster.

Even after I went back to North Carolina, I could hardly get that sound of that guitar out of my mind. In fact, it must have been stuck in my head for at least four months. That was when I walked into a music store and saw her. She was a vintage ‘52 black guard American-made Fender Telecaster. It was one of those moments in life that you can never forget. It was like seeing your future wife for the first time. You can’t be assured it will last forever. You can only hope. But you know you have to have her now. You’ll find some way to get her even if she’s a little bit over your budget.

Fifteen minutes later, I walked out of that store with the ’52 Fender Telecaster and tweed case in hand. I play that guitar almost every time I have writer’s block. In fact, I’m about to go play it now. I have a heroin addict and an old friend I need to bring back into the story. I need some inspiration and I’m hoping you need some, too.

… To be continued

Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.