John Lennon’s Missing Guitar On Display at LBJ Presidential Library For Two Weeks Only

Jun 08, 2015

Media Contact: Anne Wheeler, [email protected], (512) 721-0216

Lennon’s guitar is just one item in the Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles! exhibit

AUSTIN –June 8, 2015– On June 13, John Lennon’s recovered Gibson guitar, missing for more than 50 years, will be on display for the first time ever at the LBJ Presidential Library for two weeks only. The missing guitar is one item in the Library’s new Ladies and Gentlemen...The Beatles! exhibit, curated by the GRAMMY Museum® and Fab Four Exhibits.

The Lost Guitar
In 1962, John Lennon and George Harrison ordered Gibson J-160Es from Rushworth’s, one of the few shops in Liverpool where musicians could buy American-made instruments. The two guitarists referred to their acoustic Gibson guitars as “the jumbos,” and Lennon often took the guitar home from the studio to write with Paul McCartney. Some of the Beatles biggest hits such as "She Loves You," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "Please, Please, Me," "All My Loving," "From Me to You," and "This Boy" were written on this guitar.

Because the guitars were identical, they were often switched, and neither Lennon nor Harrison noticed or minded. The guitars were often left in dressing rooms during performances, and after a December 1963 concert at Finsbury Park, Lennon noticed that his Gibson was missing. It remained missing for 51 years.

In 2014, John McCaw, of California, noticed in Andy Babiuk’s Beatles Gear book that the serial number for Harrison’s Gibson guitar was close to the one he owned. McCaw had bought the used guitar from a friend in southern California in the late 1960s after serving in the military in Vietnam. First, experts were able to match the wood grain to photos of Lennon playing guitar. After further research, it was determined the serial number on the guitar matched Gibson’s shipping records. There is no record of how the guitar ended up in California.

The Guitar on Display
John Lennon’s guitar will be on display at the LBJ Library from June 13-29. From its debut showing in Austin, the guitar will then be displayed at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles from July 2-September 7, and then at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills from November 2-6.

In announcing the existence of the guitar and that it would be available for sale, Julien’s Auctions noted, "No other guitar ever offered at auction can compare to the history this guitar has with The Beatles’ John Lennon." It will be auctioned on November 6 and 7, 2015, and is expected to sell for $600,000 to $800,000. A percentage of the sale of the guitar will go to the Spirit Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit founded by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Ladies and Gentlemen...The Beatles! exhibit
Ladies and Gentlemen...The Beatles! is a traveling exhibit curated by the GRAMMY Museum® and Fab Four Exhibits that explores the impact The Beatles’ arrival had on American pop culture, including fashion, art, advertising, media and music, from early 1964 through mid-1966 – when the British boy band was at its peak. On display will be more than 400 artifacts, records, rare photographs, tour relics, video, and instruments from private collectors and the GRAMMY Museum, including the original Ludwig drumhead Ringo played on "The Ed Sullivan Show." It even includes an oral history booth where visitors can leave their own impressions of the timeless group. The exhibit opens on June 13, 2015, and runs through January 10, 2016. For more information about the exhibit, please visit www.BeatlesatLBJ.org.

About the LBJ Presidential Library
The LBJ Presidential Library is one of 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. Its mission is to preserve and protect the historical materials in the collections of the Library and make them readily accessible; to increase public awareness of the American experience through relevant exhibits and educational programs; to advance the LBJ Library’s standing as a center for intellectual activity and community leadership while meeting the challenges of a changing world. 

The Library is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day). For more information about the Library, please visit www.lbjlibrary.org.

About the GRAMMY Museum
Paying tribute to music's rich cultural history, this one-of-a-kind, 21st-century Museum explores and celebrates the enduring legacies of all forms of music, the creative process, the art and technology of the recording process, and the history of the premier recognition of excellence in recorded music — the GRAMMY Award. The GRAMMY Museum features 30,000 square feet of interactive and multimedia. Through thought-provoking and dynamic public and educational programs and exhibits, guests will experience music from a never-before-seen insider perspective that only the GRAMMY Museum can deliver.

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