Paul McCartney reunited with guitar stolen 51 years ago

Paul McCartney playing the missing guitar
Image caption,Footage of McCartney playing the iconic bass was featured in the 2021 Get Back documentary

By Andre Rhoden-Paul

BBC News

Sir Paul McCartney has been reunited with the bass guitar he used on Beatles hits including Love Me Do and She Loves You, 51 years after it was stolen from the back of a van in London.

The Höfner bass was found in a family’s attic in Sussex thanks to a search by a project called the Lost Bass.

Sir Paul bought the guitar in 1961. It was taken in west London in 1972.

A spokesperson for the former Beatle said he was “incredibly grateful” for its return.

The hunt began after the star urged Höfner to find his beloved instrument. The bass was used on Love Me Do and She Loves You.

Following an appeal for information by the Lost Bass search project, a family living in a terraced house in Sussex contacted the team remembering they had an old bass guitar in his attic.

It was reunited with Sir Paul in December.

His spokesperson said: “Following the launch of last year’s Lost Bass project, Paul’s 1961 Höfner 500/1 bass guitar, which was stolen in 1972, has been returned.

“The guitar has been authenticated by Höfner and Paul is incredibly grateful to all those involved.”

Speaking to BBC News, the team behind the Lost Bass project said they were thrilled to solve the case they dubbed “the greatest mystery in the history of rock and roll”.

“There were no leads, no evidence really where it might be,” said journalist Scott Jones, who alongside his wife Naomi last year joined the search headed by Höfner bass expert Nick Wass.

“To have found it quite quickly is amazing and we’ve heard how thrilled Paul McCartney is to have it back.

“That’s just the icing on the cake to know that bloke we all love is smiling tonight because his old guitar is back.”

Nick Wass inspecting the bass
Image caption,Guitar expert Nick Wass inspecting the bass

The guitar was retrieved in late September and verified by experts to confirm it is genuine.

Luckily the bass was complete and still with its original case, but will need some repairs to make it playable again.

During their investigation, the team received tip-offs about the theft from the back of a van in Ladbroke Grove in October 1972.

They found it was then sold to a landlord of a pub in the area, before it made its way to Sussex, where it was sitting in a family’s attic.

Speaking on why people came forward, journalist Mrs Jones said: “People wished McCartney well and wanted to help, because of that we had all these people come forward.

“The search wasn’t about attributing blame. We were saying to people you can speak to us on an anonymous basis.”

The guitar, originally purchased for £30 in Germany in 1961,has not been valued, but the Lost Bass team think it would be worth more than the most expensive guitar ever sold – a Kurt Cobain guitar which sold for a record $6m (£4.9m) at auction in 2020.

John Lennon’s stolen guitar sold for $2.4m (£1.9m) when it resurfaced half a century later.

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