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John Lennon/George Harrison
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John Lennon/George Harrison

John Lennon/George Harrison
A custom-made Vox Kensington guitar, 1966, double cutaway body of scroll design, 24 fret rosewood fingerboard with rectangular ebony inlays, two pickups, the headstock with Grove tuners, the mahogany hollow body with one f-hole and a scroll-shaped rosewood panel with three rotary controls, two selector switches, and six push buttons: TREBLE /BASS /TOP BOOST MID BOOST FUZZ REPEAT, a white metal plaque attached to the back engraved To Magic Alex, Alexi thank you for been [sic] a friend, 2-5-1967, John, also with later Fender or other neck plate -- made by Vox in 1966 and given to The Beatles, used by John Lennon and George Harrison in 1967 and subsequently given by Lennon to Alexis Mardas
The Collection Of John Alexis Mardas.
BABIUK, Andy Beatles Gear, London: Backbeat Books, 2001, pp. 209-211
Beat Instrumental, November, 1967, London, p.24 (illus.)
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Lot Essay

For many years, this guitar has been part of Beatles mythology as its whereabouts have, until now, remained a mystery. The guitar was used by both John Lennon and George Harrison during a key period in the group's history in 1967.

Harrison is pictured playing this guitar at West Malling aerodrome in Kent during rehearsals for the filming of I Am The Walrus, for Magical Mystery Tour, 18th - 24th September, 1967 [see Beat Instrumental, November, 1967, p.24]. Apparently, Lennon also played this guitar on the same occasion although so far, no photographic evidence has come to light to support this. Later that year, on 10th November, 1967, the Beatles hired the Saville Theatre in London for the filming of the promotional video for Hello Goodbye, and there are pictures of Lennon playing the Vox [see http://www.thecanteen.com/lennon9.html], although in the final footage he is seen using his Martin D-28.

The date on the plaque attached to the back of the guitar is Alexis Mardas's birthday. According to Mr Mardas, the guitar was a gift from Lennon and the plaque records the date of Mr Mardas's birthday earlier in 1967, rather than the date the guitar was given to him.

The body of this guitar was hand-crafted by Mike Bennett who worked at Vox in the 1960s. The electronics are the work of Dick Denney. Mr Bennett has inspected this guitar and has confirmed that it is the one he made in 1966. According to Mr Bennett, he received a verbal instruction from Tom Jennings (of Jennings Musical Industries Ltd., parent company to Vox) to...create something different in style to anything currently on the market, and that the guitar was a commission for George Harrison. Mr Denney's account however has the guitar as a speculative prototype, sent to the Beatles in the hope that either John or George would use it, thus encouraging orders for the new model.

The history of the guitar is somewhat complex. In an interview with Andy Babiuk for his book Beatles Gear, Mr Denney recalled that two Vox Kensington models were made. Mr Bennett however, recalls only one being made, and, according to him, the guitar pictured in Beat Instrumental magazine, October, 1966, on the Vox stand at the U.K. Music Trade Show at the Russell Hotel, without the push buttons on the body, is in fact the guitar in this Lot. Mr Bennett believes that the guitar was returned to Vox at some point after the Trade Show for the addition of the Special Effects push buttons.

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