john lennon’s 1965 protest letter to the queen just turned up in a record sleeve

The late Beatle was displeased with Britain's involvement in Vietnam and the Nigerian Civil War, and his withdrawal-inspired song 'Cold Turkey' slipping in the charts.

by Hannah Ongley
28 October 2016, 9:33pm

Jeff Ogiba, co-owner of Black Gold record shop in Brooklyn, runs an Instagram account called @thingsifoundinrecords which is exactly what it sounds like. So far his massive, ever-changing collection — and a few contributions from Redditors — has turned up a lot of pretty decent fan art, a collection of newspaper clippings about Whitney Houston, a NSFW DVD titled Barefoot and Pregnant, and a stack of handwritten letters between two married men who fell in love in 1975. Still, even he would probably be pretty staggered at unearthing what one Liverpool man recently found tucked into the sleeve of a record found in his attic: a piece of 1965 correspondence between John Lennon and Queen Elizabeth II, in which the late Beatle announces he is returning the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) medal he had been awarded four years earlier. 

According to CNN, the man had bought the record as part of a collection at a used item sale for £10. The letter itself is worth an estimated £60,000 ($72,000). "Your Majesty, I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts," Lennon wrote, signing it "John Lennon of Bag." As CNN notes, "Bagism" was a term created by John Lennon and Yoko Ono as part of their peace campaign in the late 60s, and is supposed to satirize prejudice and stereotyping. A music memorabilia expert hypothesized to CNN that this letter remained unsent because Lennon felt his smudged signature unfit to forward to the Queen. He suggests that a second letter to the same effect was sent to Her Majesty shortly afterwards. 

All in all, a great reason to tidy your things more frequently — or just an excuse to buy more records. 


Text Hannah Ongley

John Lennon
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