Imagine moving into John Lennon's home and finding a guitar in the loft!
A solid Dallas Tuxedo guitar, found in the loft at Mendips - Johnıs childhood home - goes on display at The Beatles Story from Friday 16 May. Why was it abandoned in the loft? Where did it come from? Could this have been Johnıs guitar?
Research so far has revealed that the guitar came to light * quite literally * in 1996 when builders found a few items gathering dust in the loft at 251 Menlove Avenue (known as Mendips and now owned by The National Trust). Ernest Burkey had lived there since the late 1960s unaware when he moved in that the house had a Beatles connection. Not being a fan himself he had not explored the loft, and in fact was often outspoken to the local press about the unwanted attention his home received from the fans. Even Yoko Ono could only see the house from the street!
In the same year, guitarist Johnny Byrne (who was very ill at the time all this happened) asked Alan Stratton to see whether his uncle, Ernest Burkey, would allow his friend Larry Wassgren into his home (Larry, a Beatles expert and collector of early Beatles memorabilia, was visiting from the USA). Alan duly approached his uncle Ernest, and Mendips' doors were opened to the privileged guests. Larry could not believe his luck when Ernest produced the guitar and two banjo magazines and gave them to him saying "You like The Beatles * you'd better have these". Overwhelmed at the gesture, Larry declared that Alan should have the guitar.
Since that momentous day, both Alan and Larry have been searching for confirmation that the guitar did, in fact, belong to John Lennon. There is no written or photographic evidence to support this theory, although they both remain utterly convinced that there must be a demonstrable connection to John.
Alan Stratton, just returned from meeting again with Larry Wassgren in the USA, says "This Dallas Tuxedo guitar was the first electric solid guitar produced in England. I feel very proud that I can be instrumental in bringing the guitar back to the people of Liverpool and indeed fans from all over the world as this is potentially a significant piece of Beatles history. I think that John would be pleased - and Yoko too. It's far better that the guitar is on display at The Beatles Story than in my kitchen!"
The Beatles Story curator, Sandra Quayle, is also intrigued by this magical mystery, and wants to widen the research: "By exhibiting the guitar, we hope to open up new avenues for an answer to the question - was this John Lennonıs guitar?". The probability cannot be ruled out that it was. If you have any real knowledge of this Dallas Tuxedo guitar, visit the website www.beatlesstory.com
where you will find all the details currently on file - maybe you can help fill in the gap. Serious responses only please. Any information leading to confirmation of the guitar's provenance will be appropriately acknowledged.
Editorıs Notes: Ernest Burkey told his captive audience (Alan and Larry) that builders had recently carried out some work in the loft and had discovered a few items gathering dust up there: a Dallas Tuxedo guitar dating back to the late 1950s and two banjo magazines.
Although the two banjo magazines, dated 1939 and 1941, almost certainly were Julia Lennonıs (Johnıs mother), as it was she who showed John the basic skills on the banjo, no definite link between John and the guitar has as yet been uncovered Ernest Burkey was a stonemason * in fact, he carved Brian Epstein's headstone, and that of Mr Epstein senior. Johnny 'guitar' Byrne played with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.
The Beatles Story, Albert Dock, Liverpool: The award winning Beatles Story is the ultimate tribute to Liverpoolıs most famous sons John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The magical history tour passes through the cobbled streets of Hamburg, Mathew Street, home of the Cavern Club, through the madness of Beatlemania, flower power to the eventual break up of the group.
Recent acquisitions include:
Lennonıs 'Den' "No one I think is in my tree I mean it must be high or low" from Strawberry Fields Forever. Part of John's tree house is also on display at The Beatles Story. In the elm tree in Mendips' back garden was John's 'den' - he loved the seclusion of his 'tree house' and would spend many hours there dreaming, drawing and writing poetry. Sadly the tree had to be cut down in 1979, but a board from John's 'den' was salvaged by Alan Stratton, who has loaned it to The Beatles Story.
George Harrison's First-Ever Guitar: George Harrisonıs first-ever guitar, valued at half a million pounds, is on display for the first time in the UK. This has been made possible by the generosity of the private UK collector who recently purchased the guitar - determined to bring it back to its rightful home of Liverpool.
John Lennon's Orange-Tinted Glasses: Recently donated to The Beatles Story, these legendary, orange-tinted round spectacles are today valued at over £1million - making them the most significant spectacles in the world. They were a central part of the Lennon image from 1970-1973.
John Lennonıs Imagine Jacket: Liverpool actor Jack Marsden has loaned John Lennonıs black velvet jacket to The Beatles Story - the jacket Lennon wore on the Imagine film. The jacket, currently insured for £250,000, is displayed in a glass case in the White Roomı - where Imagine plays in the background.
The Quarrymen & Skiffle exhibition: Some of the original Quarrymen instruments are featured, including a banjo played by John Lennon.
The Beatles Story Open seven days a week (except Christmas and Boxing Days). 10.00am - 6.00pm. Free car and coach park in Albert Dock. The Beatles Story, Britannia Pavilion, Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4AA