John Lennon’s Rolls Royce

I use this great photo of the Beatles standing in front of an impressive all-white Phantom V Rolls Royce in my blog banner from time to time:

This 1969 photo reminded me of a similar car that John Lennon took ownership of in 1965 – and had substantially and dramatically re-painted:

Or if you prefer it in colour for the full effect:

Lennon’s psychedelic Roller wound up in 1993 as a display item at the Royal British Columbia Museum in, of all places, the city of Victoria, British Columbia in Canada. How did it get to be in Canada? You can read the full story here. It is still owned the Royal British Columbia Museum, but is now on display at the motor shop which takes care of it’s maintenance and servicing.

How do I know this? Well, when I posted on Paul McCartney and the portable Sony TV set which can be seen on the front cover of the famous “Sgt Pepper” album, it prompted some comments including one from the very knowledgeable   WogBlog, who said that the TV was actually owned by John Lennon. WogBlog’s post then got a comment from Jim Walters, who is a volunteer at the museum in Victoria, saying that he looks after maintenance on the Rolls. He says the restoration work is all done at Bristol Motors in British Columbia which now credits itself as “the home of John Lennon’s Rolls“.

Anyway, the volunteers are looking for a replacement portable Sony TV. The original from the Rolls had gone missing (you can see it in the black and white YouTube clip above) – and it indeed looks just like a Sony TV9-306UB – the one on the “Sgt Pepper” cover:

Jim Walters is determined to find a replacement TV. He also posted on a Sony collectors page called Sony Insider saying of the little portable TV:

Paul McCartney bought two while they were on tour in Japan. One was used on the cover and I think the other was for John Lennon. I look after John Lennon’s yellow Rolls-Royce Phantom V for the owner, the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, BC, Canada. This same model was installed in the rear seat console when JP Fallon Coachworks painted the car yellow and had artist Steve Weaver do the Romany style scrolls and flowers in 1967. The TV went missing from his car over 25 years ago. I am trying to find the same model of TV so I can donate it to the museum to fill the big hole in the console where it used to be. If you can think of anyone who may be able to help please forward this message to them.

This kind of fits with what I wrote about the TV on the cover of “Sgt Pepper”, that it was actually owned by Paul. It kind of makes sense because John’s TV of course would have been installed in the Rolls Royce at the time of the photo shoot. The article I was quoting from the Japan Times in my post said that the Okazaki City Mindscape Museum would be displaying the actual receipt for the purchase of the TV in an exhibition called “Swingin’ London” from January 2011. So, I decided to look and see if the Okazaki City Mindscape Museum in fact has that “Swingin’ London” exhibit on at the moment. And it does!

My Japanese is non-existent so I put some text from the site into Google Translate and it came back with:

“Famous Beatles record jacket ・ (・ サージェント・ペパーズ・ロンリー・ハーツ Club Band) that was captured on television unravel the mystery of the “bill signed by Paul McCartney (invoice).”

So I reckon we are still working out the mystery of the who owned the TV set. Seems it might have been Paul McCartney after all……

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9 thoughts on “John Lennon’s Rolls Royce

  1. Pingback: Yeah Yeah Yeah – The Beatles and Bournemouth | Beatles Blog

  2. Was there another one? Or does my memory decieve me? I could have sworn he had one more intricately painted in gold and earth-tones. Help?

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  3. I just thought I’d update the search for a Sony TV 9-306 UB. I finally found one on eBay in the UK last year and now have it here on display in my shop. The Royal BC Museum’s curators have not yet decided whether they will put it in the car as it is not the actual TV that was in it, although it is the identical model. Also John Lennon’s Phantom V 5VD73 is on display in the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum in Montreal, Canada until April 2014. They have an exhibit called “The Beatles in Montreal” in which the car is prominently displayed. Jim Walters, Bristol Motors.

    Link to the current exhibit: http://pacmusee.qc.ca/en/news/the-beatles-in-montreal-a-not-to-be-missed-exhibition-in-2013

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    • Hi Jim – thanks so much for this update on the Sony TV, and for the info on the Montreal “Beatles in Montreal” exhibition which is about to open. I reckon the museum should put your find into the Rolls. They are never going to find the actual original one are they? Cheers.

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  4. Pingback: John Lennon’s Rolls Royce | daly1avcom

  5. I recently bought this picture of the Beatles in Front of John’s Rolls Royce. The person told me the print was from the negative. Not sure if this is true but the picture is blow up to 32 1/2″!L x 21″W ion a thin press board looks nice. My question is there any value to this picture I have?

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