john lennon defends yoko ono in lost letter
In the 1970s, landlines were a staple in every home, glitter-infused cigarette ash covered the dance floor of Studio 54, and letters were still handwritten. Fast forward about 40 years and a lot has changed, including what you might think you know about a certain British band and a certain Japanese artist.
Thanks to recent acquisitions made by RR Auction, you can now place your bid on two letters written by John Lennon in 1976 (bidding ends August 9), one of which is a pretty epic roast of his first wife, Cynthia Lennon. Music history junkies will tell you it was Yoko Ono who ended John's first marriage (and the Beatles's career) but the letters tell another story. While the recipients of both letters were different (the first is a letter from John to Cynthia, the second a letter from John to the media), John's goal for both was the same: to set the record straight.
"As you and I well know, our marriage was over long before the advent of L.S.D. or Yoko Ono … and that's reality!" John wrote in the letter to Cynthia. He also told her that he never blamed her for trying to detach herself from the Beatles, and suggests she "should try to avoid talking to and posing for magazines and newspapers!" He even mentioned the time Cynthia asked him to remarry her and have another child during a period of separation from Ono. "I politely told you no," he reminded her.
The second letter was even more direct. Also written under the Lennono Music masthead, the open letter (addressed to magazines everywhere) reads: "Dear sir or madam, I would appreciate this letter being printed in your magazine without any editing. I think it's only fair to me and your readers to present my side of the story." According to RR Auction executive vice president Bobby Livingston, the letter was primarily aimed at News of the World, a British tabloid that had been publishing excerpts of Cynthia's tell-all book.
The letters are a reminder of both a bygone era and a valuable lesson: don't piss off a rockstar.
Text Abraham Martinez
Photography via RR Auction