Finance manager Derek Sanders of Bromsgrove is in hiding following a humiliating visit to a guitar shop with his son Matt, 17. Derek said in a telephone interview that he’d only been trying to encourage his son to do something constructive. ‘In my day we didn’t have laptops and Xboxes,’ he said. ‘If we didn’t want to watch rubbish like On the Buses we had to make our own entertainment.’
Matt said his dad had offered to buy him a guitar and an amp if he’d give it a try. ‘When we got to the shop I picked up a Stratocaster, which Dad said was a ‘great axe’, but it wouldn’t play anything and was useless compared to Guitar Hero 5, where I’m already on expert level. So Dad said he’d have a go.’
Derek then strummed a couple of chords and said it seemed fine, but the assistant said Derek had to ‘do the tune’. He played the riff from Smoke on the Water and handed the guitar back with a smile, but the assistant refused to take it. By then the shop had fallen silent and all eyes were on him.
‘It dawned on me that I had to play the introduction to Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, like everyone else in the shop’ said Derek. ‘But I’d never quite picked it up. I always played rhythm when I was in a band, not lead. I couldn’t even manage the first four notes. I had to beg the assistant to play it for me before we were allowed to leave.’
A Musicians Union spokesman said it was widely known that doing the tune was obligatory when buying a guitar, and there was no excuse for what had been one of the worst incidents of its kind since The Edge had to get a roadie to play it for him in 1987.
Derek is expected to make a full recovery eventually, and Matt has progressed to the World Tour version of Guitar Hero and is thinking of forming a band.