Ultimate Beatles Memorabilia from Ringo’s Ruffled Shirts to George’s Prized Guitar
As Sotheby's offers one-of-a-kind property documenting the Fab Four's global success, we take a closer look at some of the stories behind these unique lots.
They're the most famous band in history and almost sixty years after they changed the world, anything related to The Beatles is just as desirable as ever. Sotheby's upcoming The Beatles online sale, open from 6-10 December, offers an exceptional selection of lots worn, owned and used by the band including many items from a single collector and one of the band's inner circle. From one-of-a-kind personal effects to rare record pressings, these pieces will be coveted by any fan of the Fab Four.
Many of the lots in this sale come from the previously unknown private collection of Alan Herring, acquired during his time working for The Beatles. Alan was part of the band’s inner circle from 1967 until the band’s disintegration in late 1969. Along with a small number of other trusted intimates, most, like The Beatles themselves, young working-class men, he lived alongside the band members and shared their extraordinary daily lives.
Herring first came to work as a landscape contractor for George Harrison, but George took a liking to “Alan Herringbone” (as he called him) and soon took him on as a chauffeur – the two men shared a love of fast cars – and personal assistant. When George went to India in February 1968 it wasn’t clear when, if ever, he would return, so the Beatles’s office suggested Alan interview to work for Ringo. He met Ringo at Sunny Heights, the Starkey family’s home in Weybridge, one Friday and started work for him the next Monday. He remained working for Ringo until November 1969.
Throughout this period he attended recording sessions and events – he can be seen alongside the band in photos taken at the time of the Abbey Road cover shoot. He also travelled with Ringo, got to know Peter Sellers when he starred alongside Ringo in The Magic Christian, and witnessed the tumults of the band’s break-up.
Herring has treasured his extraordinary relics of his time with The Beatles for fifty years, and these items have never been seen in public before: “The memories I have of this very special time in my life working with the Beatles are far more important to me than the things I kept which are associated with them. For my family’s sake, it makes sense for me to say goodbye to my collection now while I can still tell all the stories behind everything. It has been an emotional journey for me getting to this point, but having kept all these things with me for the last fifty years, I now feel the time is right for me to part with them.”
George Harrison's Guitar
George Harrison gave this guitar to Alan Herring in the summer of 1969, when teaching him how to play ‘Here Comes The Sun’. ‘Blondie’ – Harrison’s name for this guitar – had been acquired for home use almost certainly in a moment of nostalgia for his early days in The Quarrymen; it is almost identical to the Hofner Club 40 which had been the teenage Harrison’s prized possession when he first played with Lennon and McCartney.
Alan Herring took to strumming ‘Blondie’ while waiting at the studio during the Beatles recording sessions for Abbey Road: “One night I was playing in the kitchen at the studios when George came in with Mal Evans. George took the guitar from me and started to play the Simon and Garfunkel song 'Mrs Robinson' delightfully substituting his nickname for me 'Alan Herringbone' for that of Mrs Robinson. This was a very special moment for me".
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