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Reflecting on a Classic John Lennon Gibson

Peter Hodgson
|
09.09.2013
John Lennon's Gibson J 160 E acoustic guitar

There are a few instruments that have changed the course of music. And if you've ever had the opportunity to be in the same room as one of them, you've felt a certain spark, as though the music that was made on them was hanging in the air, making it heavy with significance.

Such is the experience of Cerphe Colwell, who related the experience of encountering John Lennon's Gibson J 160 E acoustic guitar at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland during its unveiling 18 years ago.

"I stood there for about an hour just staring at it, just thinking about how many hearts and ears were awakened by that Gibson J 160E guitar. Really magical stuff," Cerphe said on his show on Eco Planet Radio. "John's flat top Gibson was used on all of those classic early Beatles songs," he added. "I really liked the artwork drawings that John did on the wooden body of the guitar, but it was the fretboard and the pick marks and the gouges on the wood and tuning keys that really fascinated me …This was really a holy grail moment, y'know?" Cerphe said "And because this was the first time John's guitar had been displayed, I felt like I got to lift the veil and get a glimpse into John's soul."

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website reveals further details about the guitar. Yoko Ono presented it to the Museum on October 13, 1994 along with handwritten lyrics, a pair of Lennon's eyeglasses and his guitar from the 1965 Beatles Shea Stadium concert. It was originally acquired in 1964 to replace a stolen guitar, and was featured in the film Help!

The guitar had undergone a few cosmetic changes over the years: originally sunburst, it was later painted psychedelic blue and red by Dutch art cooperative The Fool (who also painted the Beatles' Apple Boutique and Eric Clapton's famous SG), and was later stripped down to natural wood. John drew the caricatures of himself and Ono on the guitar during the two "bed-ins for peace" in 1969, and it was also used to record "Give Peace A Chance."

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