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Paul McCartney Is Reunited With Lost Hofner Bass

Stories of the bass' disappearance had been circulating among Beatles fans for decades.

Source: MEGA

The bass played by Paul McCartney on the earliest Beatles recordings has been returned.

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It's taken 50+ years and some hard-sleuthing fans, but the news has come in that Paul McCartney's first Hofner bass guitar has been located and returned to the former Beatle.

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Source: MEGA

Paul McCartney with his left-hand Hofner bass, circa 1963.

The Lost Bass Project has made it their mission since 2018 to find the missing instrument. While deemed "missing," the real story of its disappearance has since come to light after a long and winding journey.

McCartney had purchased the Hofner bass, set apart with its distinctive violin shape, during the Beatles' first trip to Hamburg in 1961. This was the instrument that drove hits such as "Please Please Me" and "She Loves You" to the top of the UK charts.

McCartney retired the instrument in 1963, purchasing other Hofners and using Rickenbacker and Fender Jazz basses for his work on Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, The White Album and later, Abbey Road.

But in January 1969, McCartney brought out that very first Hofner, and was seen playing it throughout the filmed recording sessions (and famed final rooftop concert) for Let It Be, recently seen in Peter Jackson's 2021 music documentary Get Back.

In Beatles lore, legendary stories of its disappearance after January 1969 had been circulating for decades. Was it stolen during the filming? Did someone just walk off with it after the concert atop 3 Savile Row?

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The Lost Bass Project had brought to light that McCartney had held onto his prized bass... until it was stolen from the back of a van in Ladbroke Grove, West London in October of 1972. The LBP reported in September 2023 that Wings had been moving around studios and rehearsal spaces while recording Red Rose Speedway. The band's two sound engineers, Ian Horne and Trevor Jones, parked it overnight near where one of them lived. As recounted by Horne, he and Jones found the back van door padlock broken and the Hofner, plus a guitar and two amps, were gone. The two went to the Notting Hill Police Station to report the theft. Horne, crushed with the news, went to tell McCartney. Thankfully, Horne wasn't fired.

After this brand new breakthrough, the search team – Nick Wass, a Höfner executive and the world's leading expert on McCartney's lost bass, and two investigative journalists, Scott and Naomi Jones – went into high gear. Wass had already met McCartney and noted, "The search for the lost bass was inspired by Paul McCartney himself. When I met Paul a few years ago, he spoke about the lost bass and asked me to help him find it."

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Source: © Apple Corps, Ltd LLC / The Beatles / YouTube

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In November 2023, the LBP found out who the neighborhood thief was, and learned the bass had been sold to the landlord of a Notting Hill pub. The team made the news public, without naming names, and then learned the bass was housed in an attic at the home of Ruaidhri Guest. He came forward, claiming the bass (now valued at over $10 million) was gifted to him through an inheritance.

The instrument and its original case had some wear and tear and would need fixing, but the LBP was happy to report that the instrument was returned to McCartney sometime in December. The McCartney social media team posted this message on his website on Feb. 14:

"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."

Photos of the returned bass can be seen on The Lost Bass Project's website.


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