Guitar that helped make British history on US charts up for auction

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The guitar that helped the first British group to break into the US music charts – beating The Beatles to the record – is to be sold at auction.

Mike Hurst, former member of British folk trio The Springfields, is selling his beloved 1960 Gibson Country Western acoustic guitar after 58 years.

The Springfields, featuring British music legend Dusty Springfield, broke into the Billboard top 20 in September 1962 with Silver Threads and Golden Needles, 17 months before the so-called British Invasion began.

Auctioneer Luke Hobbs with Mike Hurst's famous guitar (Gardiner Houlgate/PA).
Auctioneer Luke Hobbs with Mike Hurst’s famous guitar (Gardiner Houlgate/PA)

Although The Springfields disbanded in 1964 so that Dusty Springfield could embark on her solo career, Mr Hurst continued to perform.

He became a much-in-demand music producer, using the guitar on tracks recorded by Cat Stevens, PP Arnold, Shakin’ Stevens and a Colin Blunstone song that concluded series three of Netflix’s The Crown.

The instrument was also played by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame, who joined Mr Hurst’s band in 1964, when Page was then just 17 years old.

“Apart from the fact that none of my family play guitar, I’m coming up to 78 and want to sell it while I’m still around to tell its story,” Mr Hurst, from Oxfordshire, said.

“I bought it from new in 1962 when I joined The Springfields for £65 in old money from Selmer in Charing Cross Road.

“I really liked the look of it – and its plays as well today as it did back in 1962.”

Dusty Springfield's career spanned five decades and at her peak was one of the top British female performers (PA).
Dusty Springfield’s career spanned five decades and at her peak was one of the top British female performers (PA)

On the same tour, rock’n’roll star Del Shannon gave Mr Hurst a bridge pin to replace one he had lost from the guitar. Del Shannon’s bridge pin remains on the guitar today.

Auctioneer Luke Hobbs said: “While The Beatles led the British Invasion of America in the 60s, it’s fair to say that The Springfields fired the opening salvo.

“This is a remarkable instrument. It’s been involved with some of great moments in British music history.

“What’s unusual is that its imperfections like the Bobby Vee repair add to its value. We’re expecting a lot of interest, particularly from the UK.”

The guitar was played by Cat Stevens on his breakthrough 1965 hit I Love My Dog and again on its follow-up Matthew and Son.

Before The Springfields in 1962, the only British artists to have US hits were solo performers including Vera Lynn, Petula Clark, Acker Bilk and Hayley Mills.

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