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A 1978 photo of Marin musician Pete Sears, wearing a helmet and goggles after a flight in his...

In the 35 years since his custom-built bass guitar was stolen during a riot at a notorious rock festival in Germany, former Jefferson Starship member Pete Sears has held onto a fading hope that someday it would turn up and be returned to him. That day has come.

The long-lost instrument, nicknamed "Dragon" because of its distinctive silver dragon inlay, recently surfaced in Germany. It's now on its way back to Sears at his home in San Rafael.
"This is beyond belief," he said as he traveled to a concert Thursday with his current band, Moonalice. "It's amazing. It will be incredible to hold it again and play it."

The German owner, who said he'd bought it in 1991 from a fellow musician, had stored it in a closet for many years. After seeing a photograph of it online along with a story about how it came to be missing, he agreed to sell it back to Sears.

The British-born Sears was a young bassist and keyboard player with the Jefferson Starship in 1978, when the band, riding high on the hits "Count on Me" and "Runaway," headlined the notorious Lorelei Festival in Germany in 1978.

Lead singer Grace Slick, whose alcoholism plagued that ill-fated tour, refused to come out of her room for the show. When the band decided to cancel, the crowd rioted, ransacking the stage, setting fires and making off with the band's equipment, including Sears' beloved 1963 Fender Jazz bass and his brand new, one-of-a-kind "Dragon" bass.

"I felt sick,"

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