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Guitar once played by Beatles' Lennon and Harrison up for auction

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An electric guitar played by John Lennon and George Harrison at the height of the Beatles' fame is expected to fetch between $200,000 and $300,000 at auction in May, Julien's Auctions said on Thursday.

The VOX custom-built guitar, the centerpiece of a "Music Icons" auction, was played by the two late pop stars during the British band's "Magical Mystery Tour" period.

Harrison used it to practice the 1967 song "I Am the Walrus," while Lennon played the guitar the same year while recording a video session for "Hello, Goodbye." Both songs were included on the "Magical Mystery Tour" album.

Beverly Hills-based Julien's Auctions said the guitar was given as a gift in 1967 to Yanni "Magic Alex" Mardas, the electronics engineer for the band's Apple Records label.

Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien's Auctions, called the guitar "one of the most historical pieces of music memorabilia" ever offered by the auction house.

Other Beatles items for sale at the May 18 auction in New York include a copy of the band's 1963 debut album "Please Please Me," signed by all four band members and which has an estimated price of between $30,000 and $50,000. A copy of Lennon's whimsical 1964 book of stories and drawings "In His Own Write" - also signed by the band - could fetch up to $30,000.

Costumes, personal effects and memorabilia from Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, The Grateful Dead, David Bowie and 1970s teen heartthrob David Cassidy are also up for sale.

The VOX guitar will go on display from April 16 to May 5 at the Museum of Style Icons in Newbridge, Ireland, ahead of the New York auction.

Lennon was shot dead in New York in 1980, and Harrison died of lung cancer in Los Angeles in 2001, leaving Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as the surviving members of the Fab Four.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Paul Simao)

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