Imagine a material possession, a tool (in a way) so dear to you — so vital — that if you lost it, or it was taken away, you’d vow to quit your foremost passion and purpose? A skill that made you rich and famous and beloved all over the globe?
Such was the reality for a former United States Air Force airman we’re fairly sure you’re familiar with.
You see, this USAF veteran had an instrument custom-made especially for him way back when. We’re talking decades ago. It was pretty, and it worked like a charm. But somehow, he mistakenly left it on the floor at a busy watering hole, and an inebriated patron stepped on it — destroyed it beyond repair. Only, he didn’t know it when it happened. The disconcerting news came down when he took it to the shop, and the fixer told him, then made an offer. Take this other one, he said. So, the vet did.
It was a Martin guitar. An N-20 classical. Brazilian Rosewood. Nylon strings.
Shown in the photograph above.
Willie Nelson, the ole airman we’re talking about it here — in case you didn’t figure it out already — bought the timber axe in 1969, for $750.
A few years later he recorded this song, and made up that expense and much, much more:
Turns out, it wasn’t exactly “happily ever after” with Nelson and Trigger.
It was for a while, but then in 1991 the country star faced trouble with the Internal Revenue Service, and a bunch of his belongings and assets were being auctioned off to make up for the dollars owed. He got scared they were going to take the only guitar he ever loved, and so he had family members smuggled it out of his estate in the contiguous U.S. so he may hide it at his joint in Hawaii.
He did. And when he finally paid off his debt to Uncle Sam in 1993, Trigger was safe.
Signed by many friends and fellow musicians over the years, the 83-year-old still plays the trusty box of strings as of this post’s publish date.
Nelson served for “eight or nine months” in the Air Force before being medically discharged due to lingering back issues.