Ramirez GH

Posted by Kai in News

In May 1963, Voormann Klaus, a German of 25 years old, fond of music and photography, was in Madrid, stopping in his journey back to Hamburg where he lived.

He had spent several holidays in the family home that his parents owned in Puerto de la Cruz (Tenerife) together with a German friend, Astrid Kirchherr, and three musicians from Liverpool that he had met 3 years earlier, in Hamburg. They were Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Voormann Klaus decided to buy a Spanish guitar. Therefore he went into the Ramírez Guitar shop located in Concepción Jerónima, 2.

He did not imagine that, few months after, some images of one of those musicians playing that guitar would be seen all around the world. Indeed, the first film of the Beatles, “A Hard Day’s Night”, released on July 6 1964, contained a complete sequence of the song ‘And I Love Her’, in which George Harrison, the group’s lead guitarist, plays solos with that Ramírez guitar. The inside label can be seen in one take. That unmistakable blue label in the ‘Tools for rondalla’ distributed by Ramírez. It is even shown in one of the first takes of the sequence that one of the strings, in particular the third, had been recently replaced.

That instrument shows certain handcraft features that make it special: the long box, smaller than usual; its head, also elongated at the top; the presence of a fret fingerboard 20 which extends in the first two strings, the addition of a plate on the bridge and the fact that it is rounded at the edges. José Ramírez III, manager of the guitar shop at the time, stated that these ‘tools for rondalla’ used to be constructed outside of his workshop or were prototypes made there by apprentices, as experiments, etc. Therefore they were labeled that way in order to sell them at the shop 1. It also should be taken into consideration that no other guitar like it has ever been found. And it is quite known how expensive original Beatle instruments can get. Todo ello -ya falta de que puedan aparecer más ejemplares- lleva a concluir que probablemente este instrumento fue un ejemplar único. All this facts lead to the conclusion that this instrument was probably unique.

This guitar was a great deal for Klaus Voormann. It was cheap and sounded excellently. He also received a very friendly treatment at the shop 2. Obviously, the employees who sold him the guitar in that historic day not even remotely imagined what would happen shortly thereafter.

George Harrison expressed in several interviews, dated between November 1963 and November 1964, his admiration of Andrés Segovia and his interest in classical guitar. Actually, in some photos from March 1964 he can be seen in his London apartment practicing with the guitar and trying to imitate a classical guitarist’s position. Even the ‘And I Love Her’ arpeggios show his fledgling rapprochement to these interpretation techniques.

We do not know where to find this guitar today. There are pictures of Ringo Starr, dated in early 1965, and of John Lennon, from December 1968, in which they appear with it in their hands. Maybe someday that which without any doubt can be considered one of the world’s most famous Ramírez will be found.

1 Amalia Ramírez and José Enrique Ramírez, “Ramírez’s workshop” at La Guitarra in History, 9 (1998), pages 60-81.

2 Private Email from April 27, 2009. I would like to acknowledge the support provided by Fermín Hernández throughout this investigation.

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