John Lennon's Scathing Letter to Paul McCartney From 1971 Is Up for Auction
By Zach Seemayer
Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Image
Bad memories can sometimes make for good memorabilia. A scathing and strongly worded letter penned by John Lennon to former Beatles bandmate Paul McCartney is up for auction, and bidding is in the five-figure range.
The three-page letter -- which was typewritten and also includes hand-written notes scrawled in the margins -- was drafted in 1971 by an incensed Lennon in response to an interview McCartney did with the magazine Melody Maker.
In the interview with Melody Maker, McCartney shared his thoughts on Lennon, Yoko Ono, and The Beatles' world-shaking split.
Lennon's sprawling and self-annotated missive is addressed to McCartney, and to Melody Maker as well, asking that they give him equal space in their publication.
The letter came just a few days after the interview was published, and it from the remarks in the letter, it appears that the minutiae regarding the details of the band's dissolution had not truly been resolved or addressed.
The letter goes into specifics regarding the payout of royalties, while also airing personal grievances that Lennon had with McCartney -- including McCartney's dismissive interpretation of Lennon's hit song "Imagine," which McCartney apparently said wasn't intended to be political.
"It’s 'Working Class [Hero]’ with sugar on it for conservatives like yourself," Lennon wrote. "You obviously didn’t dig the words. Imagine!
He also called out McCartney's apparent slights toward Ono, writing as a post script, "The bit that really puzzled us was asking to meet WITHOUT LINDA AND YOKO. I know you're camp! But let's not go too far! I thought you'd have understood BY NOW, that I'm JOHNANDYOKO."
While the letter is acrimonious throughout, Lennon takes a reconciliatory tone toward the end of the letter, writing, "No hard feelings to you either. I know we basically want the same, and as I said on the phone and in this letter, whenever you want to meet me, all you have to do is call."
Last October, McCartney spoke out about the long-debated reason for the breakup of The Beatles in a BBC interview special. The music icon reflected on his past, and addressed the long-standing belief that it was his decision to quit the Beatles and thus effectively end the band back in 1970.
"Stop right there. I am not the person who instigated the split. Oh no, no, no," McCartney stated. "John [Lennon] walked into the room one day and said, 'I am leaving the Beatles.' And he said, 'It's quite thrilling. It's rather like a divorce.'"
According to McCartney, he and fellow bandmates Ringo Starr and George Harrison were "were left to pick up the pieces."
"But I didn't instigate the split. It was out Johnny who came in one day and said, 'I'm leaving,'" McCartney reiterated.
While McCartney took a lot of the heat for the split, as he was the first member of the band to officially announce publicly that he would be taking his leave. However, he claims that decision was only made after Lennon privately told the band he no longer wanted to be a part of it.
"The point of it really was that John was making a new life with Yoko [Ono], and he wanted to go in a bag and lie in bed for a week in Amsterdam, for peace," McCartney said, referring to Lennon and Ono's week-long so-called "bed-ins," which were intended to be nonviolent anti-war protests. "And you couldn't argue with that."