Paul McCartney's first bass found more than 50 years after his disappearance

“Get back to where you once belonged” in the song Get Back, sang the Beatles in 1969

Paul McCartney's first bass found more than 50 years after his disappearance

“Get back to where you once belonged” in the song Get Back, sang the Beatles in 1969. Miracle: the first bass guitar Paul McCartney bought when he was in Hamburg ( Germany) in 1961 – a Höfner model 500/1 – reappeared. It was stolen from him over 50 years ago, in October 1972.

The team behind Operation The Lost Bass – a search campaign launched in 2018 to find the instrument – ​​confirmed in a press release on Thursday February 15 that “the bass is complete and still in its original case. It will need some repairs to be playable again, but a professional team can easily carry them out.” In the statement published on Paul McCartney's official website, his entourage writes that "Paul is extremely grateful to everyone involved" in the research.

McCartney had used it during the group's stays in Hamburg, then at the Cavern Club in Liverpool (United Kingdom), where the Beatles' career took off. It is present on the group's first two albums: Please Please Me and With The Beatles and titles like Love Me Do, Twist and Shout, All My Loving, She Loves You, etc. He put it aside in October 1963, when the German company Höfner offered him a second one, which he still uses on stage.

But the bassist brought it out of the closet in the summer of 1968, for the film accompanying the release of the single Revolution and in January 1969, during the sessions for Let It Be (1970). Seen with its signature sunburst finish in Get Back, Peter Jackson's 2021 documentary, for which McCartney composed the title song. On the morning of January 7, 1969, he strummed the instrument in the cold Twickenham studios. Faced with a yawning George Harrison and a waiting Ringo Starr, he tries to get off the ground the film project supposed to show the Beatles playing live in the studio, creating their next album. John Lennon arrives, late, as he often does.

Disappeared on the night of October 10, 1972, in Notting Hill

In 2018, The Lost Bass campaign was launched in the hope of recovering this “treasure” of music that McCartney had bought for £30 (which would be around £35 at today’s rate). For some time this research stalled.

Nick Wass, a manager at the Höfner firm, co-author of the Hofner book. The Complete Violin Bass Story (Centerstream Publications, 2013), works there with journalists Scott and Naomi Jones. On September 2, 2023, Scott Jones published an article in The Sunday Telegraph describing the quest. The article helps to elucidate this musical cold case.

Amateur investigators “study more than 100 leads” before coming up with a serious clue. The instrument and two amps had been stolen on the night of October 10, 1972, in the Notting Hill district of London, one of the technicians working for the musician explained a few weeks after the article appeared in the Telegraph. Paul McCartney was then preparing for his first British and European tour with Wings, and the group was recording their second album, Red Rose Speedway (1973).

“We quickly realized that this story corresponded exactly to information we had received in an e-mail regarding this disappearance,” wrote the investigators who then discovered what the thief had done with the bass: he had it sold to the owner of a pub in Notting Hill. They identified this person and followed the trail.

On Tuesday, February 13, Ruaidhri Guest, a film-loving student, posted a message on X, claiming that the instrument had been left to him as part of an inheritance but that he returned it to its legendary owner. Sharing a photo of the guitar on X, he wrote: “To my friends and family, I inherited this item which was returned to Paul McCartney. Share the news. » He adds: “At this time, no further comments. »

The Guitar World website recalls that McCartney has four Höfner basses: the one from 1961, the one given by Höfner in 1963, the one given by Höfner to play at the Queen's Jubilee concert in 2012, and the one from 1967 that he acquired and used at a private concert in 2016.