Miscellaneous Rumbles

Ringo To Auction Off One of John Lennon’s Rickenbacker Guitars and …


As the Beatles are aging, more of their items seem to be hitting the auction block.

Julien's Auctions, in Beverly Hills, has announced that Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach are placing many of the items from their careers on the auction block. Among them are some interesting items.

Perhaps the most intriguing is the 1964 Rickenbacker 1996 "Beatle-backer" model which John Lennon is known to have played during the Christmas shows in late 1963 and earlly 1964, as well as on some demo recordings which he did in his home studio. The Fire-Glo-finished guitar was given to him by Rose-Morris after his own Rickenbacker 325 was damaged. Lennon reportedly gifted this guitar to Ringo during the recording of the White Album. Julien's has estimated that guitar as having a value of between $600,000 to $800,000.

Also being auctioned is a Gretsch Tennessean (model year is not stated) that belonged to George Harrison. The information from the auction house does not indicate that the guitar was the one used by Harrison after his days of the Country Gentleman. In fact, it seems to suggest that it was another Tennessean which Harrison owned that he gave to Ringo.

Also being auctioned is a Gibson Les Paul owned by Marc Bolan and given to Ringo by the glam rocker.

Ringo's own black oyster pearl drum kit, used on hundreds of performances and major recordings is being sold. Paul McCartney also used the kit during the recording of his first solo album.

For more information about this auction, click here.

I think that I can hear Jim Irsay's footsteps as he runs to grab his checkbook.


It is amazing the amount of stuff one musician can accumulate over the years.


Sugar Plum Fairies! Wow!!! I wonder why Ringo is letting these go?


You just can't keep it all forever.


Sugar Plum Fairies! Wow!!! I wonder why Ringo is letting these go?

– BuddyHollywood

Ringo is seventy-five years of age. As we grow older, the finality of life becomes clearer. Ringo is reported to have said that, following his efforts in searching storage lockers around the world for an exhibition of Beatles memorabilia, he realized that they just had too much stuff laying about. It may well be that Ringo doesn't wish his wife, Barbara, who is seven years his junior, to have to deal with auctioning off their belongings by herself once he is gone.


Even Ringo realizes it all has to go. All of it.

I would say his 1963-64 Ludwig Downbeat kit is the most significant item on auction. It is responsible for major recordings as noted and for associating Ludwig and that drum finish so much with the band.


FWIW, the Tennessean up for auction is not the Beatle-era Tennessean. That was a '63. The one being sold is a '62 with unbound painted f-holes.

For good measure...



"seven of Starr’s stage and studio used drum kits:

Starr’s first Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl drum kit used to record some of The Beatles biggest early hits and used by Paul McCartney on his album McCartney

; the custom built Jumbo Silver Sparkle kit used in the “Hello, Goodbye” film from 1967;

the Ludwig Silver Sparkle kit used on Starr’s inaugural Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band tour"


I want to check it out in December. There will be public viewings. I don't think I'll be able to afford even a napkin.


Well, people need to weigh in.

Who knew George even had a second Tennessean?

In the MANY discussions of the 2 Gents, it came up that Ringo has a Gent but it may have been our very own Afire who somehow knew that this was one Paul gave to George in the Anthology era of 20 years ago, but George gave to Ringo.

Still the where abouts of the second un-smashed Gent?


Sadly, they'll likely wind up in Jim Irsay's vault, never to be seen again.


There is a fellow on Facebook who is claiming that the first Country Gentleman was the one which survived, and the second (with flip-up mutes) was actually given away. Here is what he claims: "Thee most famous rumor, was George's first Country gent fell out of the back of a car. Never happened. George kept his original and gave away the second that he received."

He relies, to some extent, upon this excerpt which he posted from Wikipedia:


However, Olivia was not married to George, and reportedly did not even meet him until 1974, long after the Ed Sullivan Show appearances.

All of these conflicting stories, with little or no documentation, is frustrating.

One good thing that came out of this announcement was that it crystalized in my mind that the story that Mark Hudson gave of having played George Harrison's Country Gentleman (presumably the one with flip-up mutes) must have been mistaken. Here is what he stated:

He takes me to his house and says, “I want to show you something.” There are three guitar cases, and he opens up one and it’s Mark Bolan’s [T-Rex] black Les Paul. Opens up another one, its John Lennon’s cherry burst Rickenbacker. Opens up another one and its George Harrison’s Country Gentleman Gretsch. I couldn’t believe it! He goes, “Yeah, let’s take them in and play them.” And because we have three guitar players among us – Steve Dudas, Gary Burr, and me – we took turns. I had John’s guitar first because I just had to. We’d do a verse and then pass them around, so the song has all three guitars played by all three of us. Steve Dudas played the slide solo on George’s guitar. That was a moment for Ringo because he just – when you hear that solo you just go, “Whoa – there’s something else going on here,” because it has that tone, that feeling. It was a great moment.

Now, with the fact that two of the three guitars mentioned by Mark Hudson (the Bolan Les Paul, and the Lennon Rickenbacker Rose Morris 1996) are hitting the auction block, it seems most likely that the third guitar that Hudson saw was this 1962 Tennessean that is also being auctioned. I would think that perhaps Ringo viewed these three guitars as something of a lot that should be kept together and that he has now decided to allow all of them to be sold.


Still the where abouts of the second un-smashed Gent? -- DCBirdman

Andy Babiuk, who wrote the book on the Beatles gear, reportedly interviewed Brian O'Hara of The Fourmost, who said that George Harrison gave him a Country Gentleman during a studio visit at Abbey Road and that he (O'Hara) remembered trading it.

This also seems unlikely to me, however. The Beatles were like royalty in the UK at that time. Why would anyone trade a guitar owned and used in numerous performances by one of the Beatles?


Fifty years ago. These guys knew each other in the very early days, and the fact was, gear is gear. If George felt the guitar was not worth keeping, it would follow that Brian O'Hara wouldn't have a problem doing the same. I'm sure that George would have agreed with the decision.


And George gave away guitars -- even though two they got back ..

If we include the Fourmost Gent then add to that:

Cavern Duo Jet Paperback Writer SG Let it Be Telecaster Bangla Desh Strat

and then two early iconic ones... Gent and Help Tennessean are lost


I don't think the O'Hara story is true. O'Hara did have a Gent around this time, but it was a flip-mute '63. George had his flip mute '63 until late '65 when it was destroyed. It's the one he's using in the "You're Gonna Lose That Girl" scene. It's the '62 dial-up that's unaccounted for, not the '63. That one was last seen in late '63 when it was replaced by the '63 Tennessean.


I don't think the O'Hara story is true. O'Hara did have a Gent around this time, but it was a flip-mute '63. George had his flip mute '63 until late '65 when it was destroyed. It's the one he's using in the "You're Gonna Lose That Girl" scene. It's the '62 dial-up that's unaccounted for, not the '63. That one was last seen in late '63 when it was replaced by the '63 Tennessean.

– Afire

And I think you have said it was a UK December 65 appearance when that Gent met its end.

Also to stir another hornet's nest... this recently surfaced Ringo Tennessean, some are saying this Mark Hudson guy got it wrong and it was this guitar, not a Gent he played over at Ringo's place. He really didn't know the difference? I mean we're tweaky on all that but still ...


Pics of the Fourmost and a Gent - '62, not '62. The strap button is also in a different location (near the tip of the horn) than either of George's Gents (farther into the cutaway).


Andy Babiuk, author of the book Beatles Gear, would seem to be the definitive source for the Beatles various pieces of equipment, having spent six years researching their gear and having conducted over 400 interviews with people who worked with the Beatles or were closely associated with them. Certainly, as we all know, history often becomes clearer with the passage of time as more facts are discovered. This may well be the case with the issues of George Harrison's guitars as well. However, for now, Babiuk seems to be the most authoritative source that we have.

The First and Second Gretsch Country Gentleman Guitars Acquired

According to the Beatles Gear book, the first Country Gentleman, with the screw-down mutes, was purchased in May 1963 from central-London's Sound City music store.

On November 4, 1963, after having returned from a tour of Sweden, the Beatles appeared at the Royal Command Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London. Babiuk reports, "The event was recorded with Queen Elizabeth in attendance on November 4th and broadcast on television throughout Britain on Sunday the 10th. Photographic evidence of the performance reveals an interesting detail on Harrison's County Gent guitar. There is a hole where the top "screw-down" string-mute's control-knob would normally sit. Because the mute knob sat so high off the body of the guitar, perhaps Harrison removed it for comfort? According to Bob Adams of the Soundy City store, the Gent was in need of repair at this time. If Harrison did remove the knob, it's possible that the mute mechanism became loose inside the guitar and rattled around or, in the worst case, interfered with the guitar's wiring. So Adams supplied Harrison with a replacement Country Gent."

This first Country Gent was stolen from Sound City while it was in for repair, but was later recovered and returned to Harrison. Babiuk states that the second Country Gent, with the "flip-up" mutes, was the one that Harrison came to favor as it was the one that he was most photographed with and most identified with, and the instrument he would take to the United States and use on many of the Beatles world tours, television appearances and films.

Harrison Acquires the Gretsch Tennessean

Babiuk states that George Harrison acquired his Gretsch Tennessean (implied to be in the first week or so in 1964) during the round of the Christmas shows in London (which ended on January 10, 1964). "It was different to his Country Gentleman model in several ways. Most noticeable visually was the body's single cutaway, where the Gent had twin cutaways. From the player's point of view, the Tennessean had single-coil pickups rather than the Gent's humbuckers, providing a more cutting sound. Harrison's new Gretsch was without string mutes, and was in a deep maroon-burgundy wood-grain color. The guitar was most likely manufactured in 1963, possibly 1962, but it's impossible to tell for sure as no documentation exists and the guitar is no longer in Harrison's possession. Such a Tennessean would have sold new for $350 (about £125 then; around $1,980 or £1,400 in today's money.) Harrison used this Gretsch Tennessean on numerous recordings and for live appearances throughout 1964 and then more prominently in 1965."

The Loss of the First Country Gentleman

Babiuk reports on the loss of the first Country Gentleman with the screw-down mutes as follows:

"Back in England, the group attended the July 29th [1965] royal premier of Help! held at the London Pavilion cinema on Piccadilly Circus. Next on the agenda was to prepare for another American tour. So the day after the premiere, the group held a private rehearsal on the state of the Epstein-run Saville Theatre in London. Here the group ran through songs for two important upcoming television programmes as well as their imminent US tour.

"The first of the TV shows, on the following Sunday, was Blackpool Night Out for British ABC. After the Saville Theatre rehearsals the group travelled up to the Lancashire town, just north of Liverpool, but during the journey an incident occurred that depleted the group's instrument collection. The colourful story is told by Beatles' chauffeur Alf Bicknell.

"'Prior to leaving,' recalls Alf, 'roadie Mal Evans had gone on ahead and left me with two guitars, a Rickenbacker and a Country Gentleman. I had to strap these on to the back of the car, because it was very rare for me ever to carry anything like this. We'd left London and probably travelled about 30 or 40 miles, and it was getting a little dark. We passed a big heavy truck, and a few hundred yards down the road Ringo says to me, 'Alf, I think some guy following us is flashing his lights at you.' I pulled over and stopped, got out, and went back to the guy. He said, 'You've just lost a banjo.' So I walked to the back of the car. The straps had broken and one of the guitars was gone.'

"Bicknell saw that the Rickenbacker case was still in place. By this time road manager Neil Aspinall had got out of the car to have a look. Bicknell wondered aloud what they were going to do. 'I asked Neil if he was going to tell them what had happened. He said no, so we stood there arguing for several minutes, not knowing what to say. So then I walked around and opened the passenger door. I leaned in and said, 'John, we just lost a banjo,' trying to make light of it. So he leaned forward and with a whimsical smile on his face said, 'Alf, if you can find the guitar, you can have a bonus.' I said, 'Thanks, John. What's that?' And he says, 'You could have your job back.'

"There then followed some complicated and, for Bicknell, agonising moments as he re-traced their steps and searched for the missing Gretsch. 'We found it,' he remembers, 'which was quite a surprise to everybody. We found a piece here and a piece there and pieces all over. The guitar and its case were smashed to bits. I'm convinced it was the big truck we passed that ran over it. We never even bothered to pick it up, but just left it ehre lying in the street, because by now we were pushed for time. Nobody blamed me after that -- nothing more was said about it. It just turned out to be one big joke.' The guitar lost was Harrison's first Gretsch Country Gentleman, with the dual 'screw-down' mutes, which by this time was carried only as a spare. The guitarist's favoured Country Gentleman, his second, with dual 'flip-up' mutes, managed to survive with Harrison throughout the remainder of 1965."

Harrison Gives Away Second Country Gentleman

Babiuk goes on to describe the Rubber Soul recording sessions as follows:

"The plentiful instruments and equipment at the Rubber Soul sessions accentuated this continuing search by the group for new sounds. Photographs reveal Abbey Road's studio 2 littered with instruments. At least 12 guitars were present during the sessions: Lennon's Rickenbacker 325 and the new classical he'd acquired while on tour in Spain; both Gibson J-160Es; McCartney's '63 Hofner bass; the Framus Hootenanny 12-string acoustic; and both sonic blue Fender Strats. McCartney had his Epiphone Casino electric and Texan acoustic, as well as his new left-handed Rickenbacker 4001S bass, while Harrison also had to hand his new Rickenbacker 360-12. Starr used his 22-inch-bass Ludwig set.

"A guitar soon gone from the sessions was Harrison's second Gretsch Country Gentleman (the one with dual 'flip-up' mutes). Brian O'Hara, lead guitarist and singer of Liverpool band The Fourmost, says Harrison gave him the guitar. 'We were friends with The Beatles before they really made it,' O'Hara explains today, 'and Brian Epstein also managed our group, so we did a lot of shows together.

"'We were doing a season in London at The Palladium for nine months, and at night when we finished we'd sometimes go down to Abbey Road and pop in if the lads were recording. We'd just o in and watch them or listen to them until late into the night. On one of those occasions I got a Gretsch Country Gent from George Harrison, which he didn't use -- everyone was giving them dozens of guitars by now. I mentioned that the Gent seemed nice, and he said, 'Well, you can have it,' and just like that he handed it over in the studio. God knows what happened to that guitar later. I haven't got a clue. I think I traded it in on another one somewhere along the way.'

"Here then is news of another tantalising out-there-somewhere Beatles guitar, of untold value both historically and monetarily ... but with no means of identifying itself."

Where Is The Gretsch Tennessean

Babiuk does not speak at all to the whereabouts today of the Tennessean. Other websites have included an oft-repeated story that the guitar was stolen from Abbey Road Studios along with Paul McCartney's 1961 Hofner 500-1 left-handed bass guitar. There was also no mention of the Tennessean in the Guitar Player magazine interview with George Harrison from November 1987. It is interesting to note that Babiuk seems uncertain on the year of its manufacture, stating that it was either a 1963 or possibly a 1962. I believe, however, that GDPer Afire is correct when he points out that this Tennessean being sold at the Julien auction is not the one that Harrison played during 1964 and 1965 with The Beatles. There is no question but that that Tennessean had the faux f-holes outlined in white, whereas this Tennessean being auctioned did not have the white outline of the f-holes.

What do we take from all of this? Babiuk seems to believe that it was the first Country Gent (with the screw-down mutes) which was lost off the back of the vehicle. He seems to believe O'Hara's story that he did, in fact, receive the second Country Gentleman (with the flip-up mutes) as a gift from George Harrison and that its current whereabouts are unknown due to it having been traded away. (Note: I do tend to agree with Afire that the Country Gentleman that O'Hara is shown with in photographs is not the same one as Harrison's. However, O'Hara states that he traded it away for "another one". So, it is odd, yet conceivable, that the Country Gent that he is shown with in the photos is another one which he acquired through a trade of George Harrison's.)

And no information is provided at all about the current whereabouts of the Tennessean. Apparently, those two guitars may still be out there in some unsuspecting owners' hands.


Babuik seems to be making a lot of assumptions regarding which Gent was destroyed and which supposedly went to Brian O'Hara.

As impressive as the research may have been at the time, it seems that the proliferation of information available all over the internet has shows some of it to be wrong. For example, the account of a Gent being destroyed in summer of 1965 is wrong. It turns out that there were stories in NME and Beatles Monthly in December of 1965 that relate the incident as having just occurred, including quotes from George himself. The fact is it was the flip-mute Gent that George had been using as either his main guitar or backup since late 1963 and the dial-up was never seen again after the Christmas 1963 shows, the same time the Tennessean showed up. It makes no sense that the dial-up Gent would have been the one on tour with them. And it seems equally improbable that it's pure coincidence that the '62 Gent was destroyed in late '65, yet that's exactly the time that the '63 disappears. I suspect the only reason Babuik assumed that it was the dial-up Gent that was destroyed is because he took Brian O'Hara's story at face value. If you ignore that story, the rest of it make a whole lot more sense.

Edited to add: I don't claim to be an expert on this stuff or seem impertinent questioning Andy Babuik. But I do find it interesting and have had the chance to see other people with amazing photo collections and access to music rags of that era pick this issue apart ad nauseam, and from what I've seen, it's pretty clear that the second Gent wound up broken on a roadway in late '65. As I said elsewhere, it's less clear whatever happened to the '62 dial-up. All I can say is that it was apparently never photographed in George's possession after Christmas of '63, the same time the Tennessean showed up. It seems logical that George traded one for the other, but that's just an educated guess. It's conceivable that George just bought the Tennessean outright and coincidentally at the same time gave the '62 to Brian O'Hara, but the fact that the Fourmost are pictured with a different Gent around this time makes me doubt it.


Calling Mr. Easton to the white Courtesy Phone...


All great info to evaluate and speculate on. The Canteen states that the Tennessean was in the studio as late as the Sgt Pepper sessions, and years ago someone here had the claim that it was played on the exiting guitar short riff on Strawberry Fields.


Afire, is there any documentation anywhere that it was the second Gent that was destroyed? Can you point us to any authoritative websites that discuss this point?

I also thought that it was odd that the first Country Gent was taken on the trip north if the second Country Gent had really become his favorite guitar. Also, it should be noted that George Harrison played his Tennessean for the Blackpool Night Out performance.


Afire, is there any documentation anywhere that it was the second Gent that was destroyed?

Nope. There's no documentation either way, just that it was a "Gretsch Country Man" [Beatles Monthly's error] and that it happened at the start of the December '65 tour. That can be found in the December '65 Beatles Monthly Book #17, and the December '65 New Musical Express. I'm just saying it makes way more sense that it was the second Gent, which he'd been using and touring with for the previous two years rather than the first one, which hadn't been seen for two years, and was presumably long gone by thus time. Since there's no definitive proof which it was, I'll go with the one that makes perfect sense rather than the one that makes almost no sense.

Can you point us to any authoritative websites that discuss this point?

Yep, beatgearcavern.com. It's authoritative in the same way that the GDP is authoritative on the fine points of vintage Gretsches. It's the best collection of discussion by Beatle gear geeks on the planet. There have been a few great and indepth threads on this subject there.


And of course everyone noticed the Bikini bass in the Fourmost post?

Also just spotted this in this WaPo article ---

The Harrisons gave this 1962 Dark Cherry Chet Atkins Tennessean guitar to Starr. The case still contains a small gift card that reads “Dear Richy, Happy Christmas & love you loads, 2002 from Oli & Dhani” (Olivia and Dhani Harrison, George’s wife and daughter) and the outside case sports the laminated ohm symbol tag Harrison used to identify his instruments.

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