The Steve Earle Guitar

Several years ago, I sat in a renovated mill in downtown Greenville at a charity auction held by the local classic rock station, Rock101. It was a time I didn’t have a lot of money in my pocket and probably shouldn’t have been bidding on anything.

I didn’t need another guitar. I have my old Alvalrez acoustic/electric I’ve been playing since I was a teenager. I have a beat-up Peavey T-60 I’ve been playing since then, as well. What’s more, I would soon have a 12-string and a mandolin. The last thing I needed was the guitar that sat on the stage. It wasn’t an expensive guitar and had nowhere near the kind of tone I would want but it was still a pretty good one according to Simon Lyon. I bid, bid again, and bid again. I took it home with me that night knowing I bought it only because it was signed by one of my songwriting heroes, Steve Earle.

That guitar has been here ever since and took on the likely name “The Steve Earle Guitar.” It got played, to be sure. It usually came out when I had friends over and we took to musical silliness. The best night I remember was a Bradoween celebration. My cousin, a friend named Kebin, and I all sat in my driveway for way too many hours and traded songs.

That guitar isn’t here anymore. It’s now somewhere where it’s going to get played all the time. I bought a hard shell case for it so it would survive the trip and had a packing company send it off. To the credit of the U.S. Postal Service, the entire journey took less than a week and the guitar arrived in one piece.

That guitar and its future are now in the hands of a friend. I know it is in good hands. I sent along only one request: Make sure the guitar stays there until everybody gets to come home. I know my friend, known to many as Dr. Chako, will make sure that happens.

For more, visit Dr. Chako’s website.

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Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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17 Responses

  1. That is ten kinds of awesome right there.

  2. We can drink, we can play some cards and we can laugh and have a great time over the weekend. I look forward to all of that.

    But not as much as shaking your hand and buying you a beverage courtesy of the Doc.

    We’ll consider it a temporary thanks until the permanent one arrives home safe and sound.

    It works for me too you see. I think it’s smart to have a man that drinks a good Scotch, owe you one! And that is also a drink I truly look forward to.

  3. If you didn’t already have it, you now have my vote as one of the coolest people I ‘know’.

    That has got to be one of the most thoughtful gifts!

    For what its worth, I hope that guitar, and the sentiment attached comes back soon.

  4. This makes me cry! You are a good man, charlie brown.


  5. Anonymous Anonymous says:

    I agree! You are a good man, Otis! And it made me cry too!
    Love ya!

  6. Otis, my friend, it’s people like you that make this bearable.

    The guitar has already been put to good use! We had a little gathering and I got to play a bunch of Christmas carols – which is pretty funny since I’m one of about 3 or 4 Jews our here right now.

    Your karma tank should be over-full right now. Kick ass in Vegas.

  7. Anonymous rj says:

    Words fail me. This is the coolest story ever. You shouldn’t have to pay for a drink for a long damn time. Next one’s on me. -rj

  8. What would Steve Earle do? Yep, that thing you did there was right in the spirit of all things Earle. Good work, Otis.

    And regards to Dr. Chako, your traveling minstrel. Hey doc, we’re praying you get some snow. Maybe that would quiet things down enough for you to get some guitar playing done.

    City Girl

  9. Otis, you’re officially on the double hug list. I hope you understand how thoughtful that was and how much the Doc appreciates it.

    Thanks for keeping my baby occupied until he comes home.

    The Wife

  10. Otis,

    My sincerest thanks for taking the time to come by and comment. She’s home now in in “normal” condition. (for her !)

    If I understand things correctly, you’re saying I might need to catch both of you this weekend?

    LMAO… I hope not, unless it’s alcohol related!

    Seriously, thanks for the kind words. It means a lot.

  11. Mizzou got robbed. Sorry about that dude. They deserved better treatment from the BCS. OU is the only school that beat MU. Remeber this also, MU beat Illinois who then beat OSU on the Buckeye’s home field. Bunch of crap.

  12. great story! There’s nothing like Steve Earle’s “I Feel Alright” or “Transcendental Blues” to make me remember why he’s such a great songwriter. If you’re ever in Nashville go to a coffee shop called Bongo Java across from Belmont University. Upstairs in the theater is a great picture of Earle from a play he did there dressed like a vampire.

    A very kind gesture of friendship as well. Steve Earle would be proud.

  13. Dr. Chako says:

    When heard on NPR this morning that they had the official “casing of the colors” ceremony at Victory Base in Iraq (where I was stationed), my first thought turned to this guitar and your gesture.

    I hope it comes home in safe hands and I hope it made many soldiers as happy as it made me. Thanks again for your tremendous generosity.


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  1. March 12, 2008

    […] a little project I started back in November. If you missed it, I sent one of my guitars over to Iraq to keep a friend occupied until he came home. At first I hoped he’d bring the guitar home to me. And then I changed my […]

  2. December 13, 2008

    […] The Steve Earle Guitar […]

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