|1959: Hofner Club 40: hollow-body, fawn
colored electric (vintage unknown): Although
McCartney says in an interview that Lennon and Harrison
both bought Club 40s in Hamburg, a photo taken in the
autumn of 1959 -- months before their first Hamburg trip
-- shows Lennon playing his Club 40 at Liverpool's
Casbah Club. In his book Beatles gear,
Andy Babiuk cleverly researched the origins of this
guitar. Apparently, the guitar "Guaranteed Not to
Split" had suffered some damage -- and Lennon couldn't
be seen playing that purloined Tuxedo, if that story is
true -- so the day before that Casbah gig, Aunt Mimi,
after considerable pleading, had taken Lennon to Hessy's
music store in Liverpool and plunked down a £17 deposit
on this guitar and co-signed for it. Its total
price, with hire-purchase charges, was about £30.
Lennon made sporadic payments, and at one point Hessy's
account ledger notes "Son in Germany -- mother paying."
He played this guitar -- the first electric he's seen
with -- until buying a Rickenbacker in Hamburg the
following year. He then loaned this Hofner to
McCartney, who restrung it lefty and used it until
Lennon sold it, in his words, "at a profit." Where
is this guitar now? People of Hamburg, check your
The Star Club 40 re-issue prototype, right, is authentic except for the control panel and machine heads, but production plans are on hold. Named for the Star Club, a Hamburg venue the Beatles played, although the Club 40 was never used there.
Note: Lennon's Club 40 is not to be confused with the Hofner Club included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 2000 Lennon exhibit; that guitar, a Club 50 model, is erroneously described as an instrument Lennon purchased in Germany in the early '60s and shared with Harrison. More likely, Lennon picked it up not long before he gave it to son Julian in '74.
Note: One Quarry Man who did own a Senator is Ken Brown, and I asked him about it. "I do not recall John actually owning one during the time I knew him," he replied. "He may of course have acquired one at some later stage. I, of course, did own such a guitar." Brown added cryptically that there was more on the subject in his autobiography, now making the rounds of publishers. So go figure.
(c)2000, 2015 John F. Crowley