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Tuesday, August 24, 1999 Published at 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK


Lennon's 'fêted' guitar for sale

John Lennon and the Quarry Men playing at the church fete in 1957

The guitar John Lennon was playing when he first met Paul McCartney could fetch up to £100,000 when it is put up for auction by Sotheby's in London next month.

The Gallotone "Champion" acoustic guitar is the earliest Beatles guitar to be offered at auction.

The 17-year-old John Lennon was playing it while leading his band the Quarry Men at a church fête in 1957 - watched by the then 15-year-old McCartney.

Sotheby's Rock 'n' Roll specialist Stephen Maycock said: "This is the most important and significant piece of early Beatles memorabilia to come on the market."

[ image: The  Gallotone
The Gallotone "Champion" guitar bought by Lennon for £10
The cherry-coloured Dutch-made guitar has been fully restored and bears the "Champion" logo.

It is also bears a brass plaque with the inscription "Remember you'll never earn your living by it".

It refers to a remark that Lennon's Aunt Mimi is thought to have made out of exasperation at the amount of hours the young Lennon spent practising on the guitar rather than studying.

But, her nephew was out to prove her anxiety wrong and if he had not been playing his guitar once again at the St Peter's church fête in Woolton, Merseyside he might not have had that fateful encounter.

A black and white photo of the afternoon shows Lennon standing at the front of the stage playing the Dutch-made guitar. Among the crowd of spectators was the teenage McCartney.

The two were introduced later in the day as the Quarry Men set up for an evening session in the church hall.

McCartney was impressed with Lennon's ability to play the guitar and remember lyrics from well-known rock 'n' roll songs.

A former member of the Quarry Men recalled that Lennon bought the instrument by mail order a month or so earlier, for only £10.

[ image: George Harrison's guitar left bidders unimpressed]
George Harrison's guitar left bidders unimpressed
Forty-two years on, the guitar, which is being sold along with Lennon's typewriter and records from his early collection, is expected to sell for up to £100,000 at the Rock 'n' Roll Memorabilia Sale at the Hard Rock Café.

In September 1994, a tape recording of John Lennon singing and playing the guitar with the Quarry Men at the fête was bought by EMI Records for £78,500 at the annual sale.

However, recent auctions of Beatles memorabilia have proved a disappointing.

The guitar George Harrison played at the Beatles' last live performance was withdrawn from auction on 19 August, after it failed to reach its reserve price of £200,000.

While in July, the coat John Lennon wore at the height of Beatlemania also sold at auction for a bargain price of just over £4,000, instead of the estimated £100,000.

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