George Harrison was extremely upset when this rare guitar sold out

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George Harrison played 26 instruments. But when he started out as a musician, he only thought about the guitar. As he was just starting to master the instrument, he dreamed of the day when he would finally have one of Liverpool’s most coveted guitars. It took a lot of research, but George finally got the holy grail of guitars.

George Harrison | Jeff Hochberg / Getty Images

George Harrison wanted a special guitar that kept selling

In the early days of The Beatles (before Ringo, to be exact), George didn’t like his sound. At the time, he had a Vox amp and a Gretsch guitar, but this equipment did nothing for him. He was grateful to have a guitar, however, because they weren’t cheap back then. However, George still wanted a Fender Stratocaster, which at the time was in high demand. American-made guitars were hard to find in England in the late 1950s.

“I didn’t like the guitar sound I had. And it was a Vox amp and a Gretsch guitar. [But] it was the early days and we were lucky to have something, ”said George in a meeting. “I could have had squares and circles and furs, you know like Bo Diddley.”

After dreaming about the Fender Stratocaster for a while, George finally got the chance to buy one when he found out that a local guitar store had one in stock. So George sent it to the store in the hope that the guitar was still there. Unfortunately for George, it was not.

George Harrison playing his Gretsch guitar on stage with the Beatles, 1962.

George Harrison playing the Gretsch guitar | Mark and Colleen Hayward / Redferns

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George says finding out the Fender Stratocaster was depleted again was “healing”

George left the next morning to buy the Stratocaster, but the guitar store had already sold the guitar by the time he arrived. The guitarist of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Ringo’s band at the time, got up earlier in the morning and bought it before George could.

It was one of the most desired guitars in all of England, after all. The greatest musicians of the time, like Buddy Holly, played the Fender Stratocaster. George was so overwhelmed by the experience that it actually marked him. “By the time I got there he was gone,” said George. “I was so disappointed. It marked me for the rest of my life.

George finally got his Fender Stratocaster in 1965

According to Guitar world, George finally got his Fender Stratocaster. He and John bought a matching set of 1961 Fender Stratocasters with Sonic Blue finishes in 1965. George says they were purchased during the recording of The Beatles’ Rubber core, but Guitar World maintains that guitars made their first appearance on the recording of “Ticket to Ride” on To help!

Either way, George’s Fender has become one of the most famous and distinctive guitars in his entire arsenal. In 1967 he painted the guitar with Day-Glo paint and nicknamed it “Rocky”.

George Harrison's hand-painted Fender Stratocaster, which he nicknamed

George Harrison’s Fender “Rocky” Stratocaster | Nigel Osbourne / Redferns

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“In ’67 everyone started painting everything,” said George, “and I decided to paint it. I had Day-Glo paint, which was a pretty new invention at the time, and I sat up late one night and did it. George even used nail polish from his ex-wife Patti Boyd to decorate the guitar.

Rocky appeared during the Beatles’ live television performance of “All You Need Is Love” on Our world and in the band’s music video for “I Am the Walrus”. George used Rocky until his death in 2001. Since then it has been in the safe hands of George’s son, Dhani. As George said, Rocky is history.


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