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John Lennon’s Missing Harmonica Found After 50 Yrs

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April 1, 2024.  John Lennon’s long-lost Hohner harmonica, featured on Beatles classics such as “From Me To You” and “Please Please Me,” has been found over fifty years after it first went missing.

The Association of Chromatic Harmonicas (ACH!), the leading harmonica historical society, announced Monday that the 1959 Model-C Chromatica Harmonica had been rediscovered and that the instrument had been mailed to John’s son Sean in a padded envelope with signature requested.

The story of this legendary harmonica begins in 1960 as the Beatles (John, Paul, and George with then-members Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe) traveled through the Netherlands by Volkswagen van on their way to their first Hamburg residency. Allen Williams, their manager at the time, stopped in Arnhem when Pete requested a bathroom break. As the group stepped into De Oude Mondharmonicawinkel (Ye Olde Harmonica Store) to use the facilities, Lennon slipped a harmonica into the pocket of his trousers. Not to be outdone, McCartney nicked a few licorice drops from a bowl at the cash register.

It was Beatles producer George Martin who first suggested that Lennon try blowing into the instrument rather than just slapping it against his arm. Before long, he had mastered the harmonica well enough to add it to the Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do.” But not everyone in the group was happy with John’s new toy. When George Martin asked the group if there was anything that they didn’t like about the song, George Harrison said “Yeah, I don’t like John’s harmonica.” Nevertheless, Lennon continued to play the instrument on many of the Beatles’ earliest recordings.

Lennon seldom went anywhere without his Hohner. It could be spotted in the “I Should Have Known Better” scene in A Hard Day’s Night when he pretended to lose it in a poker match. He joked about it in the Beatles’ famous 1963 appearance in the Royal Variety Performance, asking the crowd to “rattle their harmonicas.” In 1964, he played it on Shindig during the Beatles’ performance of “I’m a Loser,” and he and Yoko played it together in the Beatles’ unreleased music video for “Revolution 9.”

The last known sighting of the harmonica was in one of the more famous scenes from the movie Let It Be. During a particularly stressful rehearsal of Lennon’s song “Dig It,” Ringo tells John “I’ll play what you want me to play or I won’t play at all.” Lennon then chucks the harmonica at Ringo’s head.

It had long been assumed that Lennon had accidentally swallowed the harmonica in 1970 during a particularly stressful primal scream session. Yet that didn’t stop conspiracy theories from spreading among Beatles scholars. Some suspected that Harrison had stolen the harp during the Imagine sessions and buried it at Friar Park. Others suspected that it had been misplaced during Lennon’s infamous Lost Weekend after Lennon’s drinking buddy, Harry Nilsson, had used it as a straw.

After beginning a dedicated search for the instrument in 2023, ACH received a tip from an anonymous source that the harmonica had been spotted on stage at The Fest for Harmonica Fans in Chengdu, China. After saving up enough money for a ticket to China, an investigative team was sent to Chengdu to perform a series of tests on the instrument. When a sample of crusted saliva found on the reed plate came back positive for tooth decay, there was no doubt that the harmonica was John’s legendary Hohner.

In related news, a lawsuit was filed yesterday in the Hague against The John Lennon Estate by Nora Achterberg, the current owner of De Oude Mondharmonicawinkel. She is claiming damages of €8.99 for the harmonica plus accrued interest of €28,345,890, and requesting screen credit in all future Beatles biopics.

-Scott Freiman

PS. Since folks tend to find these posts throughout the year, please be sure to check the dateline at the top of the article.

Photo: Harmonica (cogdogblog via Wikimedia)

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10 comments on “John Lennon’s Missing Harmonica Found After 50 Yrs

  1. Great article Scott! Exciting news!

  2. Peter Denmark

    Is this an April fools joke?

  3. Peter Denmark

    It’s probably an April Fools joke.

  4. Renee Carson

    This has to be an April Fool’s joke.

    Scott Freiman is far too knowledgeable about Beatles history, to include this many slightly off errors in one article, let alone the overall content. Just a few being – George Harrison told George Martin that he didn’t like his tie, not John’s harmonica playing. John Lennon told the crowd at the Royal Variety Performance to “just rattle your jewelry”, and Ringo did not tell John “I’ll play whatever you want me to play, or I won’t play at all”, that was George to Paul.
    Finally, I may have missed this, but I never heard anything about a missing harmonica. There are more than a few other inconsistencies here as well.

    But it was a good effort! 😊

  5. Have a look at the dateline at the top of the article…

    • 🤦🏻‍♂️ For those who didn’t get this was another of Scott’s (and CultureSonar’s) April Fools jokes, The Rolling Stones are looking for a few more fans. 😏

  6. I think John was an very good harmonica player.

  7. OSCAR PAPALUCA

    The info is wrong, they traveled to Hamburg in COMER VAN, not in a Volswagen Van.

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