Paul McCartney saw skiffle king Lonnie Donegan perform at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre on 11 November 1956.
The concert inspired McCartney to start playing the guitar. Shortly afterwards he traded the trumpet he had received four months previously on his 14th birthday for a guitar.
It was just after my mother’s death that it started. It became an obsession. It took over his whole life. It just came along at that time and became an escape.
The guitar was a natural finish flat top acoustic model of an unknown make. It was a beginner’s instrument with 18 frets, only 12 of which were clear of the body. By the following year he had moved on to a Zenith guitar which he played until 1960.
Last updated: 26 May 2020
Also on this day...
- 2013: Paul McCartney live: Kyocera Dome, Osaka, Japan
- 2012: Paul McCartney live: Scottrade Center, St Louis
- 2010: Paul McCartney live: River Plate Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- 2002: Album release: Back In The US by Paul McCartney
- 1968: George Harrison produces Is This What You Want? by Jackie Lomax
- 1968: US album release: Two Virgins by John Lennon and Yoko Ono
- 1965: Recording, mixing: The Word, You Won’t See Me, Girl, Wait, I’m Looking Through You
- 1962: Live: Star-Club, Hamburg
- 1961: Live: Aintree Institute, Liverpool
- 1960: Live: Kaiserkeller, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.
I think the guitar that he apparently got before his Zenith wasn’t his. I read in more than one place that the first model was owned by his dad but Paul used it sometimes because he didn’t have an acoustic of his own.
The first time I saw the Beatles play was at the Liverpool Aintree Institute was on a Saturday night some time in 1961 I think, and apart from Stuart Sutcliffe playing bass with his back to the audience, Paul McCartney was strumming a green guitar (might have been a Hofner) that was not plugged in to an amp nor re-strung from right hand. No one seemed to notice, they were taken with the music. On Fridays, they sometimes played at the Orrell Park Ballroom and you could hear them practising while you waited for the 61 bus near the bridge.