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New novel aims to unravel the mystery of Julia's banjo
A WIRRAL musician has co-written a novel which could help in the search for the first instrument John Lennon learned to play.
In his teenage years the future Beatle's mother, Julia, taught him to play her banjo but it went missing and nobody knows what happened to it.
Julia’s Banjo, by Rob Fennah and Helen A Jones, is based on the mystery of what has been described as the Holy Grail of pop memorabilia, which would now be worth millions to whoever finds it.
In the book a Beatles tour guide finds a letter, written by John, that contains a clue to solving the greatest mystery in pop music.
Although the story is a work of fiction, the plot is weaved around hard Beatle facts which the authors hope will inspire people to start searching their attics and cellars.
Rob, originally from Greasby but now living in Liverpool, said: "One of John's pianos sold at auction in 2000 for one and a half million pounds; but Julia’s banjo is in a completely different league.
"Without it The Beatles would never have existed. It was the catalyst that changed the world and that’s what makes it so valuable."
It was Julia who turned John onto rock ’n’ roll and actively encouraged him to pursue his musical ambitions; much to the disapproval of his Aunt Mimi with whom he lived.
Shortly after Julia Lennon died in 1958 the banjo went missing and no one has set eyes on it since.
Neither John’s family, nor any of the numerous Beatles experts, have been able to shed light on its whereabouts or what may have become of it.
John never revealed what happened to the priceless relic and it remains the greatest mystery in pop music.
Rob said: "As a lifelong Beatles fan I've always known that Julia Lennon taught John to play her banjo. What I didn't know was that it had been missing for over fifty years.
"A dealer at a Beatles convention told me. I couldn’t believe something that important could simply vanish into thin air."
Asked where the banjo could be Helen added: "That's the six million dollar question; nobody knows.
“Neither John’s family nor any of the Beatles experts we spoke to could shine any light on its whereabouts.”
Asked if he thinks the banjo was scrapped, Rob said: "Of course that is a possibility, but I don’t think so.
"Julia Baird (John’s sister) told me the banjo had a beautiful mother of pearl inlay design on the back which only the very expensive instruments had.
"Besides, if it had been thrown out, someone would have saved it, either to sell or simply to keep for its ornamental value. Wouldn’t you retrieve it if you saw it lying in a skip?"
"Julia’s banjo is out there somewhere and, believe me, whoever discovers it won’t have to worry about their day job anymore."
Kindle versions of the book are now available and a hardback will be available in bookshops at the end of October.
Full details are from www.juliasbanjo.com