Paul McCartney reunited with missing Hofner bass after more than 50 years

Former Beatles member says ‘incredibly grateful to all those involved’ after search to find instrument stolen in 1972.

English band The Beatles (from left to right), Paul McCartney (bass), George Harrison (guitar), Ringo Starr (drums) and John Lennon (guitar) perform on stage during a concert, on July 29, 1965, in London [File: Central Press/AFP]Published On 16 Feb 202416 Feb 2024

The global search is over.

Iconic Beatles member Paul McCartney has been reunited with his 1961 Hofner bass guitar, stolen more than half a century ago, according to a statement posted on the British musician’s official website.

Keep reading

list of 3 itemslist 1 of 3

The Beatles – reimagined

list 3 of 3

AI helped create new and final Beatles song

end of list

The statement said on Thursday Hofner and McCartney had authenticated the violin-shaped instrument and that the performer was “incredibly grateful to all those involved”.

The bass had reportedly been the band member’s favourite and was used throughout the “Beatlemania” decade, including at Hamburg’s Top Ten Club and on early recordings at London’s Abbey Road studios.

McCartney used it to record global hits such as Love Me Do, She Loves You and Twist and Shout. The bass was last seen publicly at about the time when the Beatles were recording 1970’s Let It Be, their final studio album, before being stolen in 1972 from a van used to transport equipment.

“The bass is complete and still with its original case,” The Loss Bass Project, which began searching for the instrument in 2018, said on its website. “It will need some repairs to make it playable again, but a team of professionals can easily carry these out.”

The investigative team led by a guitar expert and two journalists had promised to solve what they branded as “the greatest mystery in rock and roll”.

After receiving dozens of leads, the search team learned that the bass, which was initially bought for about £30, equivalent to about £500 ($585) at today’s prices, had been stolen from the van in London’s Notting Hill neighbourhood and given to a local pub landlord.

On September 2, 2023, the project said it wrote to The Sunday Telegraph outlining the search for the instrument, and within a “week”, was picked up by several newspapers worldwide.

“As a result of the publicity someone 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 said.

On Tuesday, a student named Ruaidhri Guest shared a photograph of the bass on the social media platform X and claimed he had inherited it.

The Lost Bass Project said it was “thrilled” by the return of the instrument.

“Despite many telling us that it was lost forever or destroyed, we persisted until it was back where it belonged,” the search team said on its website.

Scott Jones, one of those involved in the hunt for the guitar, told BBC radio that the original thief “didn’t set out to steal the Beatles’ bass, and he didn’t know he was taking such a piece of Beatlemania history”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies