Two Gibson J-160E ‘Jumbo’ guitars were ordered by Lennon and George Harrison from Rushworth’s music store in Liverpool in 1962, after The Beatles were informed they had landed an EMI recording contract. In addition to their first single, Lennon used the guitar on the singles ‘Please Please Me’, ‘From Me To You’, and on their debut album and its follow-up With The Beatles.
At some point the two guitars became mixed up, and the Harrison estate now owns the guitar originally bought to Lennon. The one Lennon used went missing for 50 years after being stolen during The Beatles’ Christmas Shows in Finsbury Park, London in 1963.
In 2013 John McCaw bought the guitar from a second-hand store in the US. He grew curious about its origins, and after some preliminary investigations contacted Andy Babiuk, world-renowned Beatles instruments expert and author of the book Beatles Gear.
The guitar was sold by Julien’s Auctions in California. Its buyer wished to remain anonymous.
Also in the sale was a drop-T logo drum head formerly belonging to Ringo Starr, which sold for $2.125 million. The buyer was Jim Irsay, owner of the American Football team Indianapolis Colts.
The drum head was the second of seven to sport the famous drop-T logo, and was used during The Beatles’ historic first Ed Sullivan Show appearance.
Here’s a clip of the sale of Lennon’s Gibson guitar:
Also on this day...
- 2019: Beatles photographer Robert Freeman dies
- 2010: Paul McCartney live at Estádio Beira Rio, Porto Alegre, Brazil
- 1993: George Harrison attends the Adelaide Grand Prix
- 1969: Recording: Stardust by Ringo Starr
- 1968: John Lennon writes A Short Essay On Macrobiotics
- 1967: Recording, mixing, editing: Blue Jay Way, Flying, Magical Mystery Tour
- 1966: John Lennon meets Yoko Ono
- 1966: Mixing: I Want To Hold Your Hand
- 1964: Live: Capitol Cinema, Cardiff
- 1963: Live: Adelphi Cinema, Dublin, Ireland
- 1962: Live: Star-Club, Hamburg
- 1961: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (evening)
- 1961: Live: Merseyside Civil Service Club, Liverpool
- 1961: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
- 1960: Live: Kaiserkeller, Hamburg
- 1957: Live: Wilson Hall, Liverpool
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.