Paul McCartney watches Lonnie Donegan perform in Liverpool

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.
Mike McCartney

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
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