Ian James gave his school friend Paul McCartney his first lessons on a cheap Rex acoustic guitar. Now Mr. James is putting the guitar up for auction to help fund his retirement. Along with the guitar, the auction will include a signed letter from Sir Paul that states:
"The above guitar belonging to my old school pal Ian James was the first guitar I ever held. It was also the guitar on which I learnt my first chords in his house at 43 Elswich Street, Liverpool 8."
Mr. James, a salesman with two children, lives in Ormskirk, Lancashire. He and Sir Paul are the same age (64). He recalls:
"I suppose in away I helped to introduce Paul to playing music. I would like to think so anyway. Paul and I hung around together and after school we would often go back to my house. We both had an interest in rock'n'roll and I would show him a few chords and things. I taught Paul so he could play popular tunes and sing at the same time. I remember one day he told me he'd written a song and I thought, 'Blimey, that's hard.' I'd only ever been interested in playing the hits of the day. But from the outset Paul showed he had a skill for writing songs."
Mr. James narrowly missed playing alongside Sir Paul at that famous Woolton church fete:
"Paul had his own guitar by then and I had mine. I met John for the first time and one or two other members of The Quarrymen. They were deciding on who'd be playing which songs that evening. Then the vicar turned up and said the show wasn't on so we all went to a coffee bar, but I didn't stay too long - I got a bit fed up. I believe they went back to the hall and played together. That was the closest I got to being in the Beatles. I've got no real regrets. I don't know if I'd have taken to the lifestyle."
Sir Paul and Mr. James were classmates at the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys. Although they lost touch for 28 years, they were reunited in 1991 at a Wings concert:
"When I met him it was quite emotional. Since then we've kept in touch."
The guitar will go on sale at the Cooper Owen's Music Legends auction at Abbey Road Studios on 28 July. Included with the guitar is a photograph of Paul McCartney playing the guitar and a photograph of James playing the guitar in 1957 taken by Sir Paul.
(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)
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