THE guitar that helped The Springfields become the first British group to break into the US music charts, beating The Beatles, is to be sold at auction in Corsham on Wednesday, and is expected to fetch upwards of £15,000.

Mike Hurst, a former member of The Springfields, who now lives in Oxfordshire, is selling his 1960 Gibson Country Western acoustic guitar after 58 years.

He said: “Apart from the fact that none of my family play guitar, I’m coming up to 78 and want to sell it while I’m still around to tell its story. I bought it new in 1962, when I joined The Springfields, for £65 in old money from Selmer in Charing Cross Road. I really liked the look of it and it plays as well today as it did back then.

“While on tour with The Springfields in 1962, the guitar was accidentally damaged by American teen idol Bobby Vee, who paid for its repair.

“On the same tour, American rock’n’roll star Del Shannon gave me a bridge pin to replace one I’d lost from the guitar and that’s still on it.”

Luke Hobbs, auctioneer at Gardiner Houlgate in Corsham said: “This is a remarkable instrument. It’s been involved with some of the great moments in British music history.

“What’s unusual is that its imperfections, like the Bobby Vee repair, add to its value. We’re expecting a lot of interest, particularly from the UK.”

Although The Springfields disbanded in 1964 Mike continued to perform and became a music producer.

He played the guitar on tracks recorded by Cat Stevens, who also played the guitar on his hits Love My Dog and Matthew and Son, PP Arnold and Shakin’ Stevens. The guitar was also played by legendary British guitarist Jimmy Page, of Led Zeppelin fame.

The auction will take place at Gardiner Houlgate on Leafield Way, Corsham, on Wednesday and will be available for public viewing over Monday and Tuesday from 9am-5.30pm and on the day of the sale itself.