12 May 2003

Magical Mystery was this John Lennonıs guitar?

Imagine moving into John Lennon's home and finding a guitar in the loft!

All photos copyright: Jean Catharell
Please do not use without permission (

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 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.

All photos copyright: Jean Catharell
Please do not use without permission (


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