Bass guitar

Colts owner Irsay ‘reunites’ Beatles with purchase of Paul McCartney bass guitar

Paul McCartney is seen with the Yamaha BB-1200 bass guitar in this publicity photo from 1979. (Photo Columbia Records)

After buying a bass guitar played by Paul McCartney in the late 70s and early 80s, Jim Irsay now owns instruments belonging to all four Beatles members.

Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts and an avid collector of classic rock memorabilia, acquired the Yamaha BB-1200 bass guitar at an auction Dec. 11 to benefit Music Rising, a charity co-founded by U2 guitarist The Edge. .

The McCartney Guitar set a new record for auction price paid for a bass guitar. Irsay’s winning bid of $471,900 eclipsed the $384,000 someone paid in 2020 for a bass owned by former Rolling Stones member Bill Wyman.

The Jim Irsay collection already included Beatles collectibles such as:

  • The bass drum head used by Ringo Starr in the Beatles’ debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964. Irsay paid $2.125 million for the drum head in 2015.
  • A 1963 orange Gretsch guitar that belonged to John Lennon, bought for $530,000 in 2015.
  • A one-of-a-kind 1966 Vox guitar played by Lennon and George Harrison, purchased for $408,000 in 2013.
  • A 1964 Gibson SG formerly owned by Harrison, purchased for $567,000 in 2004.

McCartney first played Yamaha bass several years after the Beatles disbanded in 1970. The instrument featured prominently on “Back to the Egg,” a 1979 album released by the McCartney-led band Wings. He played guitar in concerts and during recording sessions for the solo albums “McCartney II” (1980) and “Tug of War” (1982).

Irsay is currently considering locations for a permanent museum to display his collection of instruments and cultural artifacts from the baby boomer era. His “world tour” of temporary exhibitions recently stopped in Nashville, Tennessee; Washington D.C.; and Austin, TX.

According to the Jim Irsay Collection website, exhibitions are planned in Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Paris, Rome and London.

Other recent additions to Irsay’s collection:

  • A Gibson SG formerly owned by Pete Townshend.
  • A 1976 Gibson Explorer formerly owned by Edge.
  • A Fender Telecaster that belonged to Lou Reed.