It was originally thought that the instrument burned up in a cargo plane crash in 1980, but it turns out the guitar was recovered and sold to a musician on the Caribbean island of Curacao, the New York Times reports.
Now, Frampton has got the guitar back, an important feat after a Curacao customs agent who repairs guitars identified where the instrument came from. He had to contact a Frampton fan in the Netherlands to make sure that the guitar was what he thought it was; it had burn marks on the neck and an unusual third set of pickups.
But he could not afford to buy the instrument off the owner, tourist board official Ghatim Kabbara, an amateur guitarist, agreed to buy the instrument. He then personally handed it to Frampton with the customs agent.
The instrument was given to Frampton in 1970 while he was playing with his band Humble Pie, but it was most precious to him because he used it to perform live album Frampton Comes Alive in 1976.
He told the news provider that when he first picked up the instrument in 1970 his “feet didn’t touch the ground”.
“This is the best guitar I have ever played,” he said. “It’s all I ever used for ten years. That was it. That was part of me.”
Frampton now hopes to play the guitar in February at the Beacon Theater in New York after having repairs made to it in its original Nashville home. He will not, however, have the burn marks and scrapes removed, telling the New York Times that it should “have its battle scars”.
Highlighting the notoriety of the Gibson Les Paul, a recent auction of guitars belonging to Richard Gere saw a 1960 Les Paul fetch $98,500 (£63,218), the top lot of the day.