Christopher Leyva meets John Lennon’s Guitar 2015

1963,

Volume 2, Page 85, Picture 1, 1963, The phenomenon that was the Beatles, Left to Right: Ringo Starr on drums, George Harrison on guitar, Paul McCartney on bass and vocals, and John Lennon on acoustic guitars and vocals (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)


A few days before John Lennon’s guitar was announced, the owner of the guitar assembled 3 musicians from three different age groups and decades to meet the guitar. I had seen the other 2 musicians at other Beatle events or Beatle fairs throughout the years, so we exchanged nervousness and anxiety. We surveyed each other for knowledge of what we were there to do.

We were not told what we were doing. All I was told by my publicist was that I was invited to a very special private viewing for a Beatles related activity. We were to sign a non-disclosure agreement of what we were going to see and cell phones were taken at the door. I was supposed to go to a private event in Santa Barbara that day for a private meet and greet with Robert Plant, but my publicist said i would regret it if i did not come.

They took us one at a time into a room. There was food and drinks like what we are accustomed to at a green room before a show. They were playing the early Beatles record “Please Please Me” on repeat and there were some security guards at the door.

Finally it was my turn to go in to the room. This felt like when you are waiting your turn at an interrogation or a custom’s second inspection, where it’s a bit awkward and unknown, but exciting. I have been in the room with the same surviving Beatles. It was similar hysteria in the room.

It was my turn! The security guard escorted me in to a small red room. They say red makes people crazy or something. It felt like I was in purgatory and the man opened up a guitar case that was resting on a table. I have been in weird scenarios and product launches, so I thought maybe I was testing a new Beatle app. The guy hands me an acoustic guitar. It looked a bit aged, so than i thought “Cool! This will be like a Gibson Reissue of a Beatles guitar”. I thought it was like one of those scratched guitars that has stood the test of time. 

Then, after jamming on it with a Rolling Stones’ tune “Under my Thumb” and the lead riff of “Satisfaction”, I played “Please Please Me”, “All My Loving” and one of my own songs. The guy comes back in and tells me it belonged to John Lennon and that it’s the one that Mal Evans (road manager) had the disgrace of telling an angry Lennon that he lost it.

It took on a different meaning. I saw every scar, every cut, the frustration and his heavy hand strumming. Almost like a brute learning to play the guitar, just like I used to. I could almost see John playing with Paul, swapping it back and forth, being played upside down. Even Ringo giving it a crack, trying to jam to Ray Charles on the radio, or just playing like when I come back to my room and see my drummer playing Ozzie on my guitar.

I asked if i could please record a few bars on my phone and he said “sure”, handed me my phone and I recorded an idea. It really did something for me man! I connected to the 18 year version of myself, learning the guitar and writing the first song. And just when I got started, the man said “your time’s up”. We will be doing some publicity shots, but you won’t get those until after the press release. I couldn’t talk about it, tweet about it or anything. I was up until 3 in the morning and finally gave in and called my mom who has no internet. Kinda like when John would call his Aunt Mimi. She didn’t really get it, but I am sure Mimi was just always there to hear about John’s awesome stories like when he met Elvis, Chuck Berry or some other name Mimi had never heard of.

Thank you John Lennon.

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