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A 100-year-old piano used by Beatles during filming of 'Help!' to be auctioned

This 100-year-old piano used during the filming of the Beatles' movie "Help!" will be auctioned March 20.
This 100-year-old piano used during the filming of the Beatles' movie "Help!" will be auctioned March 20.
Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images

A piano over 100 years old and used by John Lennon and Paul McCartney while filming the Beatles second movie “Help!” in 1965 is to be sold at auction, Omega Auctions announced in a press release on March 4.

This 100-year-old piano said to have been used during the filming of "Help!" will be auctioned March 20.
Omega Auctions

The 1907 Bechstein Concert Grand piano was housed in the Twickenham Studios from some time around the 1930's up until its purchase from the studio by Richard Lester, who directed the Beatles' second film, in the late 1960’s.

Talking about the film in a 1999 interview with the UK Guardian, Lester said “Help!” was harder to film than “A Hard Day's Night.”

“I had more money and a bit more time. I had to learn to say to the crowd "Get out of the way" in three different languages. But it was no harder except that the boys had really discovered marijuana and there was a lot of smiling - more from them than me, but it was just as pleasant. It was very nice.”

He also said copyrighting the title was a job in itself.

"When the film was being written under the imaginative working title 'Beatles Two', the writers and I wanted to call it 'Help!'. Unfortunately, we were informed by copyright lawyers that someone else had registered that title, so Ringo helpfully offered 'Eight Arms to Hold You,'” Lester said.

“Needless to say there wasn't a huge amount of enthusiasm to write that title song, but we carried on until it came close to shooting the title sequence for the film. Another desperate phone call to the lawyers resulted but fortunately we were informed that if we added an exclamation mark, we could use this as a title so the film arrived at its new title ‘Help!’

“Once we received this news we immediately arranged a meeting with The Beatles and the crew to inform them and set them to the task of writing a song to go with the title. They started on this immediately at the studio using the Bechstein piano and continued working on it on their car journey home and throughout that evening. The next morning they arrived at the studio with the track ready to show us and promptly played it on the piano a number of times. When we heard the song, we knew it was right and I think it was shortly after that they went into Abbey Road and recorded the song and the rest is history."

Lester also said McCartney did much of his work composing "Yesterday" on the piano."

"Later on, when coming to the end of the shooting of the film, Paul was spending a lot of time at the piano composing and fine tuning 'Yesterday' or the 'Scrambled Eggs' song as it was originally entitled by Paul. He was playing it that much that I actually threatened to remove the piano off the set if he didn’t finish the song soon and give it a rest. When it was released in August 1965, Paul actually sent me a copy with a note attached saying, 'I’m glad you didn’t take the piano away – hope you like the “Scrambled Eggs” song now!'."

According to the auction house, the piano is expected to sell for over £50,000. It is part of an auction of over 200 lots of rare Beatles memorabilia and vinyl records by the auction house to be held on March 20 at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool. The auction coincides with the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles number one song “Can’t Buy Me Love.” More information on the full auction can be seen here. The full auction catalog is here.

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