Blues guitarist Ron Thompson is upset about the theft of his 22-year-old Toyota Camry, but he's devastated by the loss of what was in it: guitars, a mandolin, keyboards and other musical gear that built his career and pays his bills.
Among the missing items is an electric, hollow-body Gibson, 41 years old, with "Ron Thompson" inlaid on the worn, black neck. The guitar has been in Thompson's collection through seven albums and dozens of performances. The 60-year-old musician, a frequent performer in Fresno, said it's been his go-to instrument for years.
"I got it when I was 19," he said. "You only really need one guitar. I have others for different sounds, of course, but that's my main guitar. I love it."
Thompson's Gibson has been with him through collaborations with Mick Fleetwood and Big Mama Thornton.
Thompson's 1991 blue Camry, which held his musical equipment, was stolen outside his Hayward apartment on Tuesday morning.
"I had come back from the Brownsville Blues Festival," he said. "I just was so tired, I didn't take my guitars out of the car. I woke up the next day thinking, 'I'm going out.' But my car was gone. Everything was gone."
Hayward police said Thompson will be notified as soon as they find anything. Meanwhile, the Oakland-born performer is trying to deal with the impact on his livelihood.
"I usually drive everywhere for gigs," he said. "Now, my friends are giving me rides. Now, I realize who's actually there for me."
Two of Thompson's friends plan to give him rides to Fresno from the Bay Area and back so that he can play his scheduled shows. Back at home, manager and girlfriend Jackie McCort offers emotional support.
"It's heartbreaking," McCort said. "He's devastated, and I'm trying to give him hope. But it's amazing how helpful everyone is now that the word is out. People are picking him up, driving him everywhere, giving him equipment. It's just amazing what can happen in times like this."
Thompson said he's heartbroken over what he's lost: a yellow steel guitar that he remembers playing with legendary blues singer John Lee Hooker, a checkerboard-patterned Fender that that was built and hand-painted by a close friend, and an amp given to him by a fan from Fresno 10 years ago.
Still, Thompson is trying to stay positive.
"I've learned how many people are there for me," he said. "It's very heartwarming. This was a very negative thing, but I'm seeing the good things that came out of it. I feel good."
Though, he added laughing, finding his car and Gibson might make him feel much better.