Get Back: Paul McCartney Reunites With Stolen Höfner Bass After 50+ Years

The Beatles bassist’s instrument was stolen in 1972.

By Andy Kahn Feb 16, 2024 7:59 am PST

In 1972, The Beatles’ co-founder Paul McCartney had his Höfner bass guitar stolen. The 81-year-old legendary musician recently reunited with the long-lost instrument.

McCartney’s website posted a message regarding the Höfner bass:

Following the launch of last year’s Lost Bass project, Paul’s 1961 Höfner 500/1 bass guitar, which was stolen in 1972, has been returned. The guitar has been authenticated by Höfner and Paul is incredibly grateful to all those involved.

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The Lost Bass website explains the project’s mission:

Paul McCartney purchased his first bass guitar, a Höfner 500/1 model, when he was in Hamburg in 1961. But it was stolen in October 1972 and not seen again. We set out to find it!

This was the bass that powered Beatlemania. He used it in Hamburg for several residencies, he played it over 250 times at The Caven Club. It was used to record The Beatle’s first two albums – Please Please Me and With The Beatles. It’s the bass you hear on “Love Me Do,” “Twist and Shout,” “All My Loving,” “She Loves You” and other hit singles.

Although it was relegated to the backup bass late in 1963, it remained in use until the break up of The Beatles in 1969. It stayed with Paul until one dark, cold night in October 1972 when tragedy struck. Someone stole it in the night from a van used to transport equipment.

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The Lost Bass Project was launched in 2018 by Nick Wass who worked at Höfner. He was later joined by journalists Scott Jones and Naomi Jones.

The group received information regarding the theft, confirming that it occurred from a three ton van in Notting Hill on October 10, 1972. The information aligned with a previously received email tip about the stolen bass, which indicated the instrument was sold to Ronald Guest, the landlord of the Admiral Blake pub in Ladbroke Grove, London. Further research indicates that McCartney’s stolen bass likely remained with same family after Ronald Guest acquired it.

Increased publicity in recent years and the assistance of other researchers helped lead to the locating and eventual return of McCartney’s stolen instrument.

“[S]omeone living in a terraced house in Hastings on the south coast of England contacted Paul McCartney’s company and then returned the bass to them,” the Loss Bass Project wrote. “The search was over – Paul had his stolen bass back at last!”

McCartney’s bass will require some repairs before it can be properly played again. McCartney often plays a Höfner bass guitar that he acquired in 1963.

McCartney’s ’61 Höfner bass appears in the trailer for the documentary film, Get Back. See it in action below:

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