George Harrison / The Beatles: The iconic black leather jacket, worn throughout early stage appearances in Hamburg, Germany and The Cavern Club, Liverpool and for publicity material, circa 1960-1962,
Lot 300
George Harrison / The Beatles: The iconic black leather jacket, worn throughout early stage appearances in Hamburg, Germany and The Cavern Club, Liverpool and for publicity material, circa 1960-1962,
Sold for £110,450 (US$ 178,797) inc. premium

Lot Details
George Harrison / The Beatles: The iconic black leather jacket, worn throughout early stage appearances in Hamburg, Germany and The Cavern Club, Liverpool and for publicity material, circa 1960-1962, George Harrison/The Beatles: The iconic black leather jacket, worn throughout early stage appearances in Hamburg, Germany and The Cavern Club, Liverpool and for publicity material, circa 1960-1962, George Harrison/The Beatles: The iconic black leather jacket, worn throughout early stage appearances in Hamburg, Germany and The Cavern Club, Liverpool and for publicity material, circa 1960-1962, George Harrison's black leather jacket, circa 1960, George Harrison's black leather jacket, circa 1960, George Harrison's black leather jacket, circa 1960, George Harrison's black leather jacket, circa 1960,
The Harrison Family Collection: Lots 300 to 313 are all items given by George Harrison to his brother, Harry, and other members of his family. The collection dates from the 1960s and 1970s and three items, in particular, represent important stages in George's career as one of the leading rock musicians of the 20th Century. Firstly, a black leather jacket comes from the period when the newly-named, and little-known, Beatles honed their skills in the clubs of Hamburg and Merseyside. The many hours they spent onstage, from the latter half of 1960 through to 1962, helped hone their musical skills and transformed them into a group poised on the brink of unimagined international fame. Acquired in Hamburg, George wore this jacket both on and offstage and it appears in many of the photographs taken of the group in those formative years. Early in 1962, manager Brian Espstein managed to persuade the group that the only way to progress in the music business was to 'smarten' themselves up, both in their choice of wardrobe and conduct onstage. Out went the leather jackets and trousers and rather sober, tailored suits became the new image. Following the group's phenomenal rise to stardom in 1963, their new look of Pierre Cardin-inspired suits with collarless jackets, worn with black Chelsea boots, widely influenced the clothing adopted by the teenagers of the day. The pair of 'Beatle' boots included in this collection are from the time when Beatlemania was at it height and, whilst various suits worn by the Beatles in 1963-1964 have been preserved, a pair of boots from this period are a rare survivor. After the Beatles broke up in 1970, George embarked on a new stage in his life as a solo artist. He got off to a flying start with the release, in 1971, of several hit singles and the triple-album 'All Things Must Pass'. This year also saw him, along with Ravi Shankar, organising the Concert For Bangladesh, the first rock concert staged to raise funds for humanitarian causes. Since the mid-1960s, George had become deeply interested in Eastern religion and music and this was his response to the suffering of the people of Bangladesh caused by both a devastating tropical cyclone and the effects of civil war. The Concert For Bangladesh was held at New York's Madison Square Garden and an orange shirt identical to that worn by George onstage is another highlight of the sale. Made by Nudie's of Hollywood, suppliers of Western-style clothing to the stars, the shirt bears a label with George's name and features the Hindu 'Om' symbol, to match those on the white suit George also wore for the concert. Other items in the collection reflect daily life as a Beatle, including demo recordings, Fan Club records given away at Christmas, a camera to record the madness surrounding the group from an insider's perspective and publicity photographs signed by George and with signatures of the other Beatles forged by him in an effort to keep up with the overwhelming demand for autographs. George Harrison/The Beatles: The iconic black leather jacket, worn throughout early stage appearances in Hamburg, Germany and The Cavern Club, Liverpool and for publicity material,
with elasticated cuffs and waistband, matching facing to collar, two angled pockets, zip fastening, inner pocket with label reading Meyer-Schüchardt Sport und Leder Hamburg Mönckebergstr. 6 Lübeck Breitestr. 37 and inscribed GEO in blue ink, size 50, together with a limited edition deluxe version of George Harrison - Living In The Material World set

Footnotes

  • Just as their collarless jackets helped define the Beatles' image during 1963-64, so did their black leather jackets (and matching trousers), bought whilst in Hamburg, in the pre-fame years of 1960-62.

    During the group's first trip to Hamburg, August-November 1960, they became friends with a group of young Germans known as 'Exis', followers of the French philosophy of Existentialism. Amongst them were photographer Astrid Kirchherr and her boyfriend, Klaus Voormann, an artist and illustrator. They favoured black clothing, including black leather jackets and coats, and Klaus wore his hair brushed forward in a fringe, a style that was later to become the 'Beatle' haircut. Astrid was soon to fall in love with the Beatles' bass player, Stuart Sutcliffe, and the group, influenced by the Exis' clothing, began to adopt a similar look. Pete Best, in his autobiography, 'Beatle!', records that George bought a leather jacket from a waiter for £5, and Pete, Paul and John then all acquired '...cheap bomber-style models which we wore with the tightest of jeans and cowboy boots.' Apart from the considerations of fashion, there were, according to Pete, some purely pragmatic reasons for the leather: 'We had sweated so much into our other clothes on stage they were falling apart. We needed something we could play in and walk around in, live in. So we just thought, leather is what Gene Vincent wears, that's a good hard image and that was it. But when we got back to Liverpool people really started looking at us.'

    The Beatles returned to Hamburg in the spring of 1961, for a residency at the Top Ten Club from 1st April to the 1st July. Mark Lewisohn records in 'The Complete Beatles Chronicle' that they appeared onstage for 503 hours over 92 nights and that '...their stamina and musical versatility improved dramatically as the visit wore on. When they returned to Liverpool in July they were simply untouchable.' Pete remembers that they were met on arrival at Hamburg station by Astrid, wearing a black leather trouser-suit (op.cit). In 'The Beatles Anthology', George recalls the impact the trousers had on the group and so Astrid took them to a tailor who made them all a pair.

    The all-leather outfit remained a favourite look for the Beatles onstage throughout 1961 but after they signed a management agreement with Brian Epstein in January 1962, this was all set to change. Epstein, the dapper, well-groomed businessman, persuaded the group that in order to progress in the music business, they would have to change their 'Hamburg' look and attitude - smoking, eating and fooling around onstage - for something smarter and more professional. His suggestions met with some opposition, particularly from John, but they all eventually agreed and Epstein arranged for tailor Beno Dorn, in Birkenhead, to make them matching suits. These received their first public airing on 7th March at the Playhouse Theatre, Manchester, for the Beatles' radio debut on the BBC Light Programme's 'Teenager's Turn - Here We Go'. A month later, on 5th April, they appeared at the Cavern Club and Mark Lewisohn records that: 'For old time's sake, the group played first in their black leather outfits and then changed into their new Beno Dorn suits and ties for the second half.' (op. cit.) Never entirely comfortable with this transformation it seems, John, in a 1970 interview quoted in 'The Beatles Anthology', recalled seeing the Granada TV footage of the group in suits and ties in the Cavern in August 1962, and reflected that that was when they had, in his view, started to sell out.

    Provenance: The Harrison Family Collection

    George gave the jacket to his brother, Harry, in the 1960s. A photograph exists, probably taken circa 1964, of Harry wearing the jacket whilst at the wheel of the Jaguar Mk.II that George had given him. Harry's son then wore the jacket to school in the 1970s, when the tear to the back occurred and the cuffs replaced as they were extremely worn.

    Literature:

    'Beatle! The Pete Best Story', Pete Best & Patrick Doncaster, Plexus Publishing Ltd., London, 1985.
    'The Beatles, The True Beginnings', Roag Best, Peter Best, Rory Best, Screenpress Publishing Ltd., Ipswich, 2002.
    'The Beatles Anthology', Cassell & Co., London, 2000.
    'The Complete Beatles Chronicle', Mark Lewisohn, Pyramid Books, London, 1992.

    Images:

    Courtesy of Astrid Kirchherr Collection/ Ginzburg Fine Arts, LLC
    Courtesy of Associated Newspapers/ Rex Features
    Courtesy of Topfoto
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £50,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 the Hammer Price
12% from £1,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

Payment in advance: by cash, check with banker's card, credit card, bank draft or traveler's cheque.

Payment at collection: by credit or debit card.

Credit card charges: a surcharge of 2% is applicable when using Mastercard, Visa and overseas debit cards.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Contacts
  1. Katherine Schofield
    Specialist - Entertainment Memorabilia
    Bonhams
    Work
    Montpelier Street
    London, United Kingdom SW7 1HH
    Work +44 207 393 3871
    FaxFax: +44 20 7393 3873
  2. Stephen Maycock
    Specialist - Entertainment Memorabilia
    Bonhams
    Work
    Montpelier Street
    London, United Kingdom SW7 1HH
    Work +44 20 7393 3844
    FaxFax: + 44 8700 273625
Similar Items