Beatles Expert Andy Babiuk Authenticates John Lennon's Lost Framus ‘Help!’ Hootenanny

Babiuk recounts the thrill of authenticating John Lennon's Framus Hootenanny 12-string acoustic guitar.

May 22, 2024

a close up of an acoustic guitar in a case .


In the vast tapestry of rock and roll history, few bands have left as indelible a mark as The Beatles. Their music, their style, their instruments – each a thread interwoven into the cultural fabric of a generation. Now, after more than five decades shrouded in mystery, a missing piece of that legacy has been rediscovered: John Lennon's Framus Hootenanny 12-string acoustic guitar, a silent witness to some of the band's most iconic moments.

The Hootenanny, with its distinctive sunburst finish and jangly tone, holds a special place in the hearts of Beatles fans. It graced the silver screen in the 1965 film "Help!" and lent its unique voice to several beloved recordings, including "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" and "If I Needed Someone." Its disappearance had long been a source of intrigue and speculation, a missing chord in the symphony of Beatles lore.

Enter Andy Babiuk, a name synonymous with Beatles gear expertise. Author of the definitive book "Beatles Gear - All the Fab Four’s Instruments from Stage to Studio" and a trusted consultant to the band members themselves, Babiuk sensed the guitar’s historical significance. With his encyclopedic knowledge and meticulous eye, he set about examining the instrument.

In an exclusive interview, Babiuk recounted the thrill of authentication. Examining the wood grain, the wear patterns, the unique features – everything aligned perfectly with archival photographs and footage.

For Babiuk, the rediscovery was more than just an academic exercise. It was a chance to relive the magic of those early Beatles recordings, and Babiuk would savor the opportunity to play riffs from each of the songs this guitar was used on.

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A 1964 Framus Hootenanny 5/024 12-string acoustic guitar, natural finish. This guitar was owned by John Lennon and used by both Lennon and George Harrison during the recording sessions for The Beatles albums Help! (1965) and Rubber Soul (1965). It has been matched to photos taken during sessions for both records as well as stills from the movie Help!

John Lennon acquired this Framus Hootenanny in late 1964, and it made recording debut during the 1965 Help! sessions where it was photographed in the hands of both Lennon and Harrison along with the Maton case it was originally paired with at the store.

“Fifth Beatle” producer George Martin’s handwritten notes from those sessions record that the Hootenanny was used by both Lennon and Harrison on “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.” The Hootenanny is also present in “Help!” outtakes where John can be heard tuning the guitar before he starts playing.

This Framus is the guitar heard on “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” “It’s Only Love, “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” and of course, “Help!” On Rubber Soul it can be heard on “Girl” as well as George Harrison’s parts on “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).” It’s featured in photos from the Beatles Monthly Magazine, and is seen being played by John in the movie Help! when The Beatles perform “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away.”

At the end of 1965, John Lennon gave the guitar as a gift to Gordon Waller of Peter & Gordon, for whom Lennon and McCartney had been writing songs. Later, Waller would pass the guitar on to a manager of his, who took the guitar home, tossed it in the attic, and gave it nary a thought for decades.

The Hootenanny's reappearance is a testament to the enduring power of The Beatles' music and the fascination their instruments hold for fans worldwide. It's a reminder of the pivotal role that a simple instrument can play in shaping an artist's sound, and the meticulous craftsmanship that went into creating these iconic tools.

The guitar's rediscovery has already sparked a wave of excitement and anticipation resulting in a current Music Icons auction bid of $1,000,000 -- likely ensuring Hootenanny's legacy is secure, and will forever be a symbol of a band that changed the world, one chord at a time.

Check out more ultra-rare finds from other legendary artists in Music Icons.

a man singing into a microphone while holding a guitar


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