Pearl Jam gave one fan a very merry Christmas. The band reached out to a Vermont man after they learned an autographed guitar they’d presented to his dying brother nearly twenty years ago had been stolen from his home.
According to the Boston Herald, Ben Hardy, 34, was heartbroken over the loss of the Fender Telecaster, which was given to his then-17-year-old brother, Josh, during a Make-A-Wish-arranged trip to Seattle in October 1992. Josh succumbed to a brain tumor three months later.
“This is really the only thing I have of his,” Ben told the Burlington Free Press. “It was a memento from that trip — that was his last trip. The monetary value means nothing. It’s Josh’s guitar.”
The resulting publicity helped police recover the guitar, but not before the thieves sanded off the band’s signatures to avoid detection.
Pearl Jam, who met Josh when he visited Sub Pop Records during his trip, learned what had happened, and shortly before Christmas, Ben was surprised when FedEx delivered a brand-new autographed guitar.
“It’s an amazing gesture of goodwill. It exceeds expectations,” Ben tells the paper. “They went above and beyond.”
His mom was equally touched.
“It’s a blessing for our family to have all this happen,” she says. “This is our Christmas story. Pearl Jam is amazing, and to think that they remembered Josh after all these years is incredible.”
In the letter that came with the guitar, Pearl Jam wrote, “We’ve been following the Telecaster’s journey for the past few weeks. We were thrilled to hear that the guitar was recovered, but we were saddened to see that it was far from its original condition. We know this will never replace Josh’s original Telecaster and its sentimental value to your family, but we hope you can accept this enclosed gift in your brother’s memory.”