United ‘treating people the way they have treated priceless instruments,’ musician says

The viral controversy over United Airlines’ handling of a customer dragged from one of its planes in Chicago on Sunday brought up some bad memories for at least one Texas musician, who says he hasn’t flown on United since 1987 because of the way they handled his guitars.

I have refused to fly on United Airlines after that airline first busted my 0021 Martin on a flight to Australia and nearly ruined my D-12-28 Martin on a return flight from Russia less than a year later,” Houston singer-songwriter Bobby Bridger wrote in a public Facebook comment on Monday.

“This terrible behavior by the airline doesn’t surprise me at all,” Bridger continued. “They are currently treating people they way they have treated priceless instruments for decades.”

Bobby Bridger, center, performing with Lost Gonzo Band members Bob Livingston, left, and John Inmon in 2014, says United broke two of his guitars in the 1980s. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Bridger certainly isn’t the first to complain about United’s handling of guitars. When Dave Carroll of Canadian band Sons of Maxwell was displeased with United’s response to his complaints about a guitar that was broken on a United flight in 2008, he responded by writing a song called “United Breaks Guitars” and creating a YouTube video for it (see above). Since 2009, it’s been viewed more than 16 million times, and it spawned a couple of sequels.

Bridger, by the way, recently released a 40th-anniversary reissue of “Seekers of the Fleece,” a poetic song-cycle narrated by actor Slim Pickens with music by progressive-country era stalwarts the Lost Gonzo Band. A veteran of early “Austin City Limits” television episodes, Bridger lived in Austin in the early 1990s and first presented a theatrical version of “Seekers of the Fleece” in Austin in 1975.

 


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