Famous stolen rockabilly bass found after over 40 years

That's a video of the Rockats, a rockabilly-revival act that blew up in the late 70s and 80s. The bass player is Smutty Smiff, beloved amongst fans for his athletic tossing-around of his bass while he plays it—his wild energy is really on display in that clip.

There's a great story in the New York Times about one of Smiff's famous upright basses—adorned with a huge "SMUTTY" logo on it—that got stolen in 1982, and the mystery of what happened to it it.

The Rockats' roadie had driven a vanful of their gear from a gig in Passaic, NJ to Manhattan through the Holland Tunnel; he stopped to grab some food at a diner, and left the van running while he darted inside. The van was stolen, along with all the gear inside, including that bass.

It was gone, gone gone for over forty years until one day Steve Ulrich, a guitarist and composer, saw it in a Jersey City pawnshop, barely a mile across the river from where it was stolen.

He asked Manny Vidal how much he wanted for it …

"It's not for sale," Mr. Vidal said.

Mr. Ulrich posted a photo of the bass on Facebook and was hit with hundreds of comments. Many came from rockabilly fans, others from collectors interested in buying the bass.

But one comment was different. It came from Barry Ryan, the rhythm guitarist for the Rockats. He knew something that none of the other commenters knew.

"That bass was stolen along with a van full of gear from Holland Tunnel Diner 40 years ago," Mr. Ryan wrote.

Later that day, Mr. Ulrich's cellphone rang. "Smutty Smiff here," said the voice on the other end, in a thick Cockney accent. "I heard you found my bass."

I won't spoil the rest of the story — go read it! It's a fun document of that moment in time — the neo-rockabilly movement of the 80s.