Alvin Stardust and the £1 million guitar

Alvin Stardust

A guitar bought for Alvin Stardust for just over £1, when he was a 12-year-old boy, is now worth more than £1 million.

The budding pop star took his three quarter sized Spanish guitar everywhere and had it signed by such famous names as Buddy Holly and The Crickets, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Billy Fury, Marty Wilde and Chuck Berry - among many others.

The 71-year-old star tells in a BBC Radio 2 programme to be aired on Monday night how his parents gave him the guitar for his 12th birthday, in 1954.

What did one couple discover in their garden that was worth millions?

"It cost £1 10 shillings, about £1.50 in today's money," he says. "Although it was not a full size acoustic, to me it was the best guitar in the world.

"After about a fortnight I had roughly learned a couple of chords."

Within a short time "a mountainous wave of American rock and roll was washing all over us".

In 1958, he saw an advertisement for a concert by Buddy Holly and The Crickets at a cinema in Doncaster, and went there on the bus, from Mansfield where he was living.

"Of course I'd take my guitar with me, by then it had become a part of me," he says.

There were 2,000 people standing outside the cinema, but because he had the guitar, "a path opened up for me", then a kindly usherette and manager helped him go to meet the group in their dressing room. They ended up singing Holly's hit Peggy Sue with him and signed his guitar, because there was a pencil available, but no paper.

He was given the best seat in the house, and on return to Mansfield he called the guitar Peggy Sue.

"From that moment, and for over 50 years since, Peggy Sue has stuck, and I love it," he says.

Next to sign the guitar was Bill Haley, followed by Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, then when Stardust started to tour, under the name Shane Fenton, he received the signatures of acts he was on the road with, Billy Fury, Marty Wilde and Joe Brown.

The autographs of The Beatles and Rolling Stones were to follow - and of Chuck Berry, who signed despite being "pretty rude and abrasive" to everyone that day, maybe because he was having a bad day, Stardust says.

"He snatched the pencil and roughly grabbed the guitar, he barely got to scribble Chuck, but scribble he did, and that was all I wanted."

Stardust says the guitar that was bought for £1 10 shillings has recently been insured for £1.25 million.

Peggy Sue - The £1 Guitar That Is Worth A Million, is on BBC Radio 2 at 10pm on Monday August 11

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