A letter written by John Lennon in 1971, in which he details his anger with his record label and the music industry at large over the ‘Two Virgins’ album he released with Yoko Ono, will be sold at an auction in the US tomorrow.
The letter has recently resurfaced and been put up for auction, with the sale – which is being conducted by RR Auctions in Boston, Massachusetts – expected to reach a price of £15,000 when bidding ends tomorrow (March 14).
Addressed to “Martin George of Rock Ink”, the auction house cites “noted Beatles expert” Perry Cox in affirming that the letter was sent to the late Beatles producer George Martin. However, author Mark Lewisohn has subsequently told The Times that he believes that Lennon was actually responding to the journalist Martin George, who wrote for “a magazine or a weekly underground newspaper called Ink“.
Referring to the 1968 album ‘Two Virgins’, the first record he wrote and recorded with Ono, Lennon writes in the letter: “Yoko and I got ‘Two Virgins’ out in spite of [which is underlined] being past owners of Apple. We made it in May and they fucked us about till November! Then E. M. I. (who have the real control) wrote warning letters to all their puppets around the world telling them not handle it in any way (this after Sir Joe [Lockwood, chairman of EMI] had told us face to face that he would do ‘everything he could’ to help us with it – and asking us for autographed copies!!).
“In the States it came out on Tetragrammaton which vanished leaving a few thousand spares (it was sold discretely wrapped in a brown paper bags),” Lennon continues. “Retailers here and there were too scared to handle it and it sold very few – it’s very well known but not many people could actually get it. In most other major markets, e.g. Japan, it has never been released.
After railing against the censorship of the word “fuck” and the “banning” of Ono’s ‘Open Your Box’, Lennon concluded the letter with: “Just thought you’d like to know.”
You can see images of the letter and the auction page here.
Earlier this month, the fiftieth anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s first live show together was celebrated with the unveiling of a new plaque in Cambridge.