A Beatle’s Guitar in San Diego

You remember Intravaia’s buddy, right—they found out he’d been playing John Lennon’s guitar for the last forty years?”

Gillespie Field Groove, Chapter 3:The Mostly
John Lennon’s Gibson J-160e guitar. Stolen in England in 1963. Discovered in San Diego 2014.

When I started writing Gillespie Field Groove, I knew the plot would center around a highly collectible Jimi Hendrix guitar that had gone missing. And I knew I’d have to do some research on the process of identifying and assessing guitars that had been owned by legendary rock stars. Little did I know that a remarkable “lost” guitar story had moved in next door to me.

As I left my condo apartment one day, my neighbor two doors down was also leaving. I hadn’t met him before. He looked about my age and I noticed he was carrying a couple of guitar cases. I said hello and asked the brilliant question:

Are you a guitar player?

And, of course, he was. His name’s Marc Intravaia and, unlike me, he’s still performing, someone who’s actually managed to carve out a career in the music business (Richie Furay Band, Back to the Garden and more). We chatted a bit, realized we might have crossed paths a few times in the past and agreed to meet later for coffee.

A few days later, at the coffee shop, we managed to piece together some shared history and realized we’d played on the same bill at the Roxy Theatre in Pacific Beach forty years ago. Yipes! We’d also worked with a few of the same musicians from around town.

I gave Marc one of my books and told him about the new one I was working on. That’s when he dropped the bombshell. He’d been involved in the discovery and identification of a lost John Lennon guitar several years earlier. The guitar had been in San Diego since at least 1967 and had been played and owned by one of Marc’s guitar students, John McCaw, since 1969. It was eventually put up for auction and sold for a then record $2.41 million dollars (half of which went to Lennon’s estate).

It’s a remarkable story, and I won’t go into it here but you can get the full details from this 2016 MusicRadar story. Suffice to say, I learned a lot about collectible guitars from Marc and his story, some of which I was able to use in Gillespie Field Groove.

A short documentary with some of the story about identifying the guitar. Also features Marc playing the guitar in the studio.
Video of the auction when the guitar was sold