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Mystery of Lennon’s black guitar solved

IT’S one of the most talked about instruments in rock ‘n’ roll history.

IT’S one of the most talked about instruments in rock ‘n’ roll history.

Speculation about how John Lennon’s 1958 Rickenbacker 325 guitar got its distinctive black finish is still so lively, there is even an online blog Baby’s in Black dedicated to the subject.

Now it has been revealed the answer lies in the quiet village of Holme, and a man nicknamed ‘Ted the Sprayer.’

Originally from Manchester, Ted Lee, 67, who lives at The Village, was part of the Manchester and Merseyside music scene in the 60s.

He gained considerable renown for his skills with a paint spray gun and his ability to transform electric guitar bodies into any colour desired.

Rock stars beat a path to Barrett’s music store in Manchester, where his specialist repair and refinishing services were much in demand.

Brian Higham, who ran the shop, said: “In late 1962 Ted was asked to do a special job for the shop.

“It was to spray black a Rickenbacker model 325 – originally in a natural finish – that belonged to John Lennon and also a Gretsch Duo Jet that belonged to George Harrison.

“The Gretsch was already black but was in need of a respray.

“The job was done quite quickly, as I recall, as The Beatles were getting very busy, but despite the urgency, the job was done to Ted’s usual high standard.”

Ted started repairing and refinishing guitars in the late 50s for friends, before it grew into a business.

He said: “I did some early work for Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman when they were with The Mindbenders and later, when they formed 10CC, I even toured with the band, looking after their instruments.

“When I resprayed Lennon and Harrison’s guitars in black, Alan Clarke from The Hollies wanted the same finish, then other well-known bands followed suit.”

Others who took advantage of his artistic touch included Roxy Music lead guitarist Phil Manzanera, Adam and The Ants co-creator Marco Pirroni and former King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp.

Ted’s CV also includes jobs for Justin Hayward, singer and composer with The Moody Blues and Simply Red co-founder Tony Bowers, all using Manchester-based HMG Paints.

He later taught at Leeds College of Music, where he helped found courses in the repair and construction of musical instruments.

Ted and his wife Brenda are now planning to emigrate to Australia.

 

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