George Harrison’s “I Want to Hold Your Hand” Rickenbacker Goes to Auction

March 27, 2014

Julien’s Auctions, in its Music Icons auction, May 16-May 17, 2014 at the Hard Rock Café New York at Times Square, is offering a rare 1962 Rickenbacker 425 guitar purchased in 1963 in Mount Vernon, Illinois by George Harrison while on a two-week visit to see his sister, Louise (serial # BH 439). The guitar was originally purchased at Fenton’s Music store and refinished by the owner from a Fireglo finish to the black George requested to match John Lennon’s similar Rickenbacker. Auction estimate is between $400,000 and$600,000)

Harrison used this Rickenbacker for the Beatles first appearance on the television program Ready Steady Go! in October 1963, and on the program Thank Your Luck Stars in December 1963. He also used it during a week-long tour in Sweden. Harrison was photographed with the guitar extensively, and the entire band has been photographed posing with the guitar.

George Harrison also played the 1962 Rickenbacker 425 in Abbey Road studios when The Beatles recorded “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The same studio session included the recording of “This Boy.”

Both George Harrison and John Lennon played this guitar. Lennon played it backstage at a performance in Glasgow, Scotland on October 5, 1963. A photograph published in an August 1964 issue of Beat Monthly shows Lennon with this very guitar.

In the late 1960s or early 1970s, Harrison gave this guitar to George Peckham, who had a long association with George Harrison and Apple. Peckham originally borrowed a guitar from Harrison for his own appearance on Top of the Pops as a rhythm guitarist in the band, the Fourmost. Upon returning it, Harrison asked Peckham if he would like to keep a guitar, and showed him the Rickenbacker 425, considering it a “great rhythm player.” Peckham kept the guitar on the condition it would never be modified. The guitar case was given later to Peckham by Noddy Holder of Slade after Holder saw Peckham walking around with the guitar without a case, and could not bear to see a Beatles guitar carried around without one.

The rare Rickenbacker 425 guitar with exceptional Beatles history is accompanied by two letters from Harrison’s office which confirm he gave the guitar to Peckham. One from Olivia Harrison and the other from Caroline Foxwell, Harrison’s assistant. Also present with the guitar is a letter from Peckham explaining the circumstances of the guitar. The guitar has also been exhibited at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, the John Lennon Museum in Saitama, Japan, and the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.

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