What John Lennon "embezzled" from a music shop during the Beatles' first overseas trip

This amusing incident in Arnhem had some influence on the development of rock 'n' roll....

How The Beatles' first overseas trip turned out to be the "theft of the century"

Despite its global status, The Beatles - like any other band - started small. And once in their history there was their first "trip abroad" - a trip that turned out to be a vivid emotion and "theft of the century". And the main "thief" turned out to be John Lennon!

So what did Lennon steal from a music shop in Holland, and how did his { "find". played an important role in the band's work?


The Beatles with Pete Best
The Beatles with Pete Best

But first, a bit of backstory. Once upon a time. John Lennon said:

"I grew up in Hamburg, not Liverpool".

John Lennon with a chupa chupa
John Lennon

This statement may come as news to the many millions of Beatles fans for whom the Magnificent Four are synonymous with a northern English harbour town. But in many ways Lennon was right, and in this respect he also spoke for the other members, because without the Hamburg "The Beatles would never become the legendary band they became.

It all started when German concert promoter Bruno Koschmieder hired a rival band Derry and the Seniors to play at his club in Hamburg. On hearing this, the Beatles' first manager, Allan Williamsand soon finds another Liverpool band for another club. It's not hard to guess which band we're talking about.....

George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon.
George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon.

The Beatles' experience in Hamburg is well documented: the teenage band, which also included original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe and the drummer Pete Bestand enjoyed the city's nightlife and hedonistic decadence. However, it was not only in Hamburg that the Beatles pushed their boundaries and found adventure. As Lennon himself recalled, the group's first trip to Europe in 1960 was by car, and was not limited to the city alone:

"Williams took us in the van. We drove through Holland and had a bit of fun there..."

The Arnhem incident

Early The Beatles in Arnhem
Early The Beatles in Arnhem

The story of that trip holds many mysteries, and Lennon's recollections seem deliberately vague. But one incident has been "recorded for posterity", one that took place in a Dutch city ArnhemThe Arnhem Oosterbeek war cemetery is famous for its military cemetery. The site, where the remains of hundreds of British servicemen from the Second World War are buried, has become one of many "tourist stops" bands. If Williams' documented recollections are to be believed, the visit to Arnhem was an emotional one for the young band, especially for Lennon, who was "both sensitive and impulsive". A photograph of the musicians was taken here, in the aforementioned cemetery, but... it is notable primarily because Lennon is not in the frame.

Subsequently, the manager "The Beatles."who organised this whole trip, explained:

"John was so disturbed by the sight of so many graves, one of which coincidentally bore the name of the band's then drummer, Peter Best... He decided to stay on the bus to keep his composure."

Legendary musician and performer John Lennon
Legendary musician and performer John Lennon

However, Lennon, who was also something of a "braggart" (according to the recollections of many close friends), quickly found a way to restore his rebellious authority In the line-up. When, after the cemetery, the band, led by Williams, stopped by a music shop, the "theft of the century" was committed: pleased with himself, Lennon, leaving the shop, showed his mates the stolen harmonica! This incident was very upsetting for their manager, who was worried whether the band would be arrested before they reached Hamburg. Fortunately, all his fears were in vain.

A talented harmonica player.

John Lennon
John Lennon

John Lennon learnt to play the harmonica as a child when a house guest, Harold Phillips, gave it to him. The man bet the boy that he could not learn a song on the instrument in one day. John accepted the challenge, and learnt two pieces at once! The victory was his. So perhaps it's no surprise that the item he decided to steal from a music shop in Arnhem turned out to be his favourite childhood instrument. Back to that journey - Lennon was known to have played his new stolen harmonica.

Although the Beatles are remembered primarily as a guitar band, their recording career was marked by the sound of the harmonica, the sound of which is unmistakably recognisable at the beginning of the Liverpool foursome's debut single "Love Me Do". Rumour has it that Lennon plays that stolen instrument here. So - this funny incident in Arnhem had some influence on the development of rock'n'roll.

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