My Guitar: Pamela Morgan and a 'sunburst' through her life

Newfoundland and Labrador singer-songwriter Pamela Morgan purchased her Martin D-35 about a year before she became the lead singer of the iconic folk-rock band Figgy Duff.
Pamela Morgan was not always with her Martin D-35. The iconic Newfoundland singer-songwriter actually had her go-to guitar stolen during the dead of winter in 1982. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador singer-songwriter Pamela Morgan purchased her guitar, a Martin D-35, about a year before she became the lead singer of the iconic folk-rock band Figgy Duff.

Morgan bought the guitar, brand-new in Ottawa in 1974. 

In our continuing series about musicians and their guitars, Central Morning's Leigh Anne Power spoke with Morgan about the bond between woman and instrument that would still live on more than 40 years later.

Morgan said her Martin D-35 is rare because of its sunburst finish, which is not usually found on Martin guitars.

"I don't think they made very many of those," said Morgan, who added that four decades of being her go-to guitar has made the instrument "road-weary."

The marks, scratches and overall play are now as much of the guitar's character as the instrument is a part of hers.

If her guitar could speak English

Morgan said one of the more interesting tales that would come from her guitar was when it was stolen. Many good guitars go missing or are stolen at one point or another, but Morgan said her story packs a peculiar punch.

On the closing night of The Tempest concert in St. John's, which Morgan said was also the night of The Ocean Ranger storm of Feb. 15, 1982, she discovered that her van had been broken into outside the venue.

Pamela Morgan says the yellow burst of paint on the front of her guitar is a rare design for the Martin D-35. (CBC)

"The guitar was missing out of the van, the case was there wide open, the guitar was gone and there was stuff all around the parking lot," recalled Morgan.

Morgan put up a reward for any information regarding the whereabouts or what had happened to her beloved guitar. 

"I never dreamed that I would see it again," she said.

After going out on her next tour and returning home once again, Morgan got a call from local musician Jimmy Linegar.

Stolen and sold for $35

He said, "I think I found your guitar." 

Whoever had stolen Morgan's D-35 quickly sold the hot item on Water Street in St. John's for $35.

The innocent buyer then took the guitar to Linegar to repair.

"They bought it quite innocently, they didn't quite know what they were getting," she said.

As luck would have it, Pamela's finger-picking style had left a hole in the finish that Linegar was familiar with, and he recognized it as soon as he saw it.

Upon being informed about where the guitar came from, Linegar called Morgan to return the rare guitar back to his friend.

Morgan still gave the reward money to the unsuspecting buyer, who then used it to buy another guitar from Linegar, one that they could keep.
Morgan and her Martin D-35 were together again, a reunion that would serve as the start of the rest of her career, strumming and singing from Canada's easternmost province.

In recent years, Morgan said she has thought about the possibility of changing to a smaller, lighter guitar for touring — but nothing has showed the full sound that her D-35 gives.

She continues to be impressed at the beautiful bottom end sound of the instrument, as well by its clarity and resonance.

To this day the partnership continues.

"I've never really wanted another guitar, so we kind of understand each other after all these years."