This is the guitar that used to belong to Top Shelf and now is in the arsenal of perhaps the most legendary living rock 'n' roll guitarist.
This is the guitar that used to belong to Top Shelf and now is in the arsenal of perhaps the most legendary living rock 'n' roll guitarist. (Photo: Top Shelf Guitar Shop)

Bay View's Top Shelf Guitar Shop sells Stones' Keith Richards a Tele

Word emerged today that Top Shelf Guitar Shop, 2358 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., in Bay View sold the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards a guitar.

Veteran local musician Jeff Benske – you might recognize him as the guitar-slinger in The 5-Card Studs – opened Top Shelf 12 years ago.

The guitar – a blonde 1967 Fender Telecaster with a white pickguard and maple neck – has been in the shop's inventory for a while now and it was posted on the store's Facebook page in September 2013.

Benske said he bought the guitar through the shop about two-and-a-half years ago.

While he wouldn't say what he got for the guitar, a similar example online was listed at $7,995 (Benske did say he didn't get quite that much).

Today, on the same page, Benske re-shared the photo, with this message:

"Well, it took a couple of years and some help from Nate Westgor, but if you're going to move a '67 Telecaster, it might as well be to Keith Richards. No, I didn't meet him. I think it's cool."

"It's a very strange story," Benske told me. "One of those things I didn't expect to happen."

Benske sold the guitar yesterday to Westgor, of Willie's American Guitars in Minneapolis, after Westgor visited the shop on his way to bring some guitars over to the Rolling Stones to look at.

"This morning, Nate texted me to say 'I just want to let you know I sold your guitar to Keith Richards."

The Stones, of course, headline the Marcus Amphitheater tonight. Westgor told Benske it'll likely be among the many guitars Richards will play this evening.

Though Benske didn't get the backstage passes he was hoping for – "not a chance" Westgor replied to the request – The 5-Card Studs are playing the pre-Stones party at JoJo's in the Amp forecourt from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

Benske told Westgor to let the Stones know that he's leaving five backstage passes for them.

To have one of your guitars land in the arsenal of perhaps the most legendary living rock 'n roll guitarist "is a nice little feather in your cap," says Benske.

"The stars were aligned."

Talkbacks

EdHeinzelman | June 23, 2015 at 3:58 p.m. (report)

I owned this guitar from 1969 or 1970 until I sold it to Top Shelf in the fall of 2013. It's nickname was Donnie because that was the name written in magic marker on face of the guitar above the bridges. You can see the light spot in the finish from repeated attempts to remove it. I played this in Doggs (with Keith Sommers) and later the Oscar Wilde Group (with Mark Schneider). I am so glad it found a 'better home'.

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EdHeinzelman | June 23, 2015 at 2:36 p.m. (report)

OMG! That's my guitar!!!

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