Lennon’s Jumbo Gibson – more details
|July 1, 1963, outside the EMI Studios in Abbey Road|
Our original posting about John Lennon’s stolen “Jumbo” 1962 Gibson J160e is attracting lots of comments, and the consensus among commentators is that it should be returned to the Lennon estate. However, more and more information is coming to light. In the San Diego Reader, Marc Intravaia says that the owner of the guitar, John McCaw “bought it in 1969 from a friend and never knew what he had until he brought it to me last August.”
The article goes on to provide more details: McCaw bought the mildly beat-up Gibson acoustic from a friend for $175, in a transaction at Blue Guitar shop, then located in Old Town (in San Diego). After spotting a magazine article in 2014 with a photo of George Harrison holding a similar guitar, McCaw noted Harrison’s guitar was only four serial numbers away from his Gibson, and concluded they were probably made on the same day in 1962.
“He had read that at some point between September 1962 and December 1963, they (George and John) swapped instruments for reasons unknown,” says Intravaia, “and that John’s guitar went missing after a series of December 1963 Christmas shows in London at the Astoria Cinema in Finsbury Park.”
|John McCaw’s request on a Gibson forum a few years ago proves he didn’t know what he had.|
Intravaia and McCaw found video of Lennon playing the guitar and noted several remarkable similarities to McCaw’s guitar, too numerous and detailed to list here but including specific scratches, wear marks, and – most telling – wood grain patterns. Local video archive licensors Reelin’ in the Years provided a high-def tape with freeze-frame close-ups of Lennon’s guitar, and pairing it with footage of McCaw’s (as seen in a new YouTube video) led to Intravaia contacting the official Beatles gear expert Andy Babiuk.
Other sources claim that the current owner has indeed been in touch with the Lennon estate, and it has been implied that they are okay with the auction, under the condition that a percentage of proceeds of the sale will go to Spirit Foundations, Inc., the non-profit organization founded by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The guitar legally belongs to the seller anyway, because under UK law, an item must be reported to the police as either lost or stolen, for the owner to be able to claim ownership. In later years, it must be reported lost or stolen within ten years of going missing, and the theft or loss of this guitar was never reported to the police in the first place.
The serial numbers on the guitars are 73161 (Lennon’s originally, now owned by Dhani Harrison) and 73157 (George’s originally, now soon to be auctioned).