- Vox Guitar Organ given by the inventor to the Beatles
- wood, metal, plastic
Vox V251 Guitar Organ prototype (1964), white polyester finish, maple Phantom body and neck, 21-fret polyester-finished rosewood fretboard with diamond inlay, two single-pole pickups, nickle contour bridge, chrome tremolo with engraved signature “Hank Marvin,” white scratch plate with “Vox” logo, “Phantom” silver script logo on headstock; 3 diamond inlays gone, ¼ inch ding on bass-side body edge with black tape residue, B-string lacking. Old dark-gray tolex coffin case, black plush lining with chambers for headstock and powersupply (not present); 1 (of 3) latches functional, reinforced with tape. Accompanied by photocopies of two typed letters signed, and a Beatles program signed by John’s uncle.
John Lennon — Mal (& Lily) Evans
A. Babiuk, Beatles Gear (2002), p. 153
The Vox company in 1964, as the most innovative of electric instrument manufacturers in that era, was in a race with Watkins and Burns London to turn out the first guitar-organ hybrid. While Burns completed the earliest prototype (which John Lennon tried), Vox was the first to market with the V251. It incorporated the standard five-sided Phantom body shape with part of a Vox Continental organ built into the body. Connected to a remote power-supply unit (not included in the present lot) via DIN plugs and a 4-conductor cable, the instrument had individual outputs for guitar and organ. The present example, as a prototype, does not have the full compliment of buttons and controls found in the production model.
Dick Denny, the company’s inventor, presented the first prototype to the Beatles (Denny claims this was at the Hammersmith Odeon during their Christmas show, while George Harrison believed it was at Abbey Road studio). Denny recounts (as quoted in Babiuk): “I took the first one up to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, to the Hammersmith Odeon in London during their Christmas show. When they first saw it they were in awe, but they couldn’t suss it out. It was too much trouble to run. But I think they liked it, because John kept it.” He apparently gave it to their roadie Mal Evans, whose wife wrote to Harrison after Mal's death (1976) inquiring about various guitars she had. A copy of Harrison’s typed letter signed response dated 26 October 1982 is included with the lot, as well as a copy of Lily Evans’ typed letter signed 21 June 2006 testifying to its authenticity. Also included is an official souvenir programme 35 Hours of Beatlemania, 1983 Mersey Beatle Extravaganza, signed on the back “Charles Lennon, John Lennon’s uncle.”
Dick Denny may be seen playing the production model on Steve Allen’s “I’ve Got a Secret” program on Youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtUrpzkfeuI