George Harrison's Hamburg-era electric guitar, the Czechoslovakian-made Resonet Futurama, is set to go under the hammer at Bonhams auction house in London on June 12th, and is expected to fetch as high as $385,000, according to The Daily Beatle. The guitar, which was aesthetically as close to a Fender Stratocaster as British kids could get in 1959 due to trade restrictions between America and the UK, was a popular, yet inferior, substitute in the wake of Buddy Holly making Stratocasters the gold standard for aspiring rockers.
Interestingly there were two Futurama's used by Harrison. Upon returning to Liverpool, when Harrison's original was damaged and sent for repair, he was lent Pete Best's kid brother Rory's Futurama under the provision that he would give the younger Best brother lessons — which, according to Rory, he never did. Upon returning to Hamburg, the “Best” Futurama was used on the Beatles' first professional recording sessions both on their own and backing Tony Sheridan, and can be heard on such early favorites as “My Bonnie,” “Ain't She Sweet,” and the George Harrison/John Lennon original instrumental, “Cry For A Shadow.” Harrison returned the guitar to Rory Best upon buying his Gretsch Duo Jet guitar. The Futurama set for auction is Harrison's original guitar.
Jimmy Page told us that just like George Harrison, he too was a proud owner of a Futurama guitar: “I know the early photographs I've seen of them, George Harrison has got this guitar, which was my first electric guitar (too). He's up in the North, I'm down in the South, so there must've been a few of them — eh, not too many, but a few of them about. And there I am doing probably doing what they were doing up there, which is trying to emulate what the music that I'd heard coming from America in one shape or form.”
George Harrison recalled the thrill of hitting Hamburg in 1960 as a working musician and being let off the leash for the first time in his life: “Everything else was such a buzz, y'know, being right in the middle of the naughtiest city in the world at 17-years-old. It was kind of exciting, and learning about, y'know, there's all the gangsters, there's the transvestites, and there's the hookers. . . ”