Stolen bass returns to rocker after 35 years


It’s a good month for celebs to get their jacked stuff back.

Last week Quentin Tarantino’s stolen cherry red Malibu showed up in Oakland after nearly two decades. Now, a bass guitar taken from Bay Area psychedelic rocker Pete Sears is finally returned to its rightful home.

And it only took 35 years.

Sears, whose career took off as the bassist and keyboardist of the Bay Area-based Jefferson Starship, clung to hope that he’d one day be reunited with his beautiful custom bass. His patience paid off.

After its latest owner learned about the stolen bass and realized it was in his possession, he decided to sell it back to its rightful owner.

The bass was stolen during a fan riot at the 1978 Lorelei Festival in Germany. The chaos began after Jefferson Starship vocalist Grace Slick refused to leave her dressing room, which forced the band to cancel their performance. Slick, the enigmatic front woman, was battling alcoholism at the time.

When the mob broke, Sears’ cherished one-of-a-kind “Dragon” bass was among the gear stolen. The bass’ wood body is cut from the same tree that birthed Jerry Garcia’s famous “Tiger” guitar.  Crafted by respected New York luthier Tom Lieber, the bass features a unique silver dragon inlay.

Sears told the Marin Independent Journal he felt sick when the bass went missing, and not a week has gone by when he hasn’t lamented its loss:

“It was like losing a work of art. I couldn’t believe it was gone. I was in shock. The whole band was in shock.”

The man who sold the guitar back to Sears lives in Germany and bought the bass from a musician in 1991. For many years, it stayed in his closet.

The seller sold the guitar back to Sears for $4,000, about twice its original price; however, the rocker said he didn’t bother negotiating:

“I wanted it back so badly, I didn’t haggle. You couldn’t build it today for $12,000.”

Despite Sears’ ongoing hope to find his guitar, he was still in disbelief when he realized the bass was being returned. The longtime San Rafael resident never had a chance to play the instrument live — something he wishes to correct soon. He told the Marin IJ:

“I can’t wait to get it in my hands again and try it out.”

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