Lot 127: Lennon, John. Autograph letter signed.
April 18, 2016
Calabasas, CA, USALive Auction
127. Lennon, John. Autograph letter signed (“J & Y”), 1 page (8.5 x 11 in.; 216 x 279 mm.), [no place, no date, 12 September 1971], written to Martin George of Rock Ink, setting the record straight concerning details surrounding John & Yoko’s experimental album Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins. Impression of paper clip at top margin. In fine condition.
John Lennon sets the record straight concerning John & Yoko’s controversial experimental album Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins – Lennon’s first recording project that did not feature any help from the other Beatles.
Lennon writes in full: Dear Martin George of Rock Ink, Yoko and I got Two Virgins out in spite of being part 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 to handle it in any way, (this after Sir Joe 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 discreetly wrapped in brown paper bags). Retailers here & there were to [sic] 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. On my last album in U.K., E.M.I. allowed me to sing ‘fuck’ but wouldn’t allow the lyrics to be printed! Yoko’s ‘Open Your Box’* was banned (again by an E.M.I. letter) everywhere. It only came out in Britain in a censored form. Just thought you’d like to know. Love J&Y
Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins is the first of three experimental albums released by John Lennon and Yoko Ono on Apple Records. It was the result of an all-night session of musical experimentation with Yoko in John’s home studio, while his wife, Cynthia, was on holiday in Greece. Their debut recording is known not only for its avante-garde content, but also for its cover which features the couple naked, making the album controversial to both the public and the parent record company EMI, which refused to distribute it. In an attempt to avoid controversy, the LP record was sold in a brown paper bag, and distributed by Track and Tetragrammaton in the United Kingdom and the United States respectively. Lennon talked about making the album and Ono’s influence on him, in an interview in 1980 with Playboy’s David Sheff: “Well, after Yoko and I met, I didn’t realize I was in love with her. I was still thinking it was an artistic collaboration, as it were – producer and artist, right? …My ex-wife was away…and Yoko came to visit me…instead of making love, we went upstairs and made tapes. I had this room full of different tapes where I would write and make strange loops and things like that for the Beatles’ stuff. So we made a tape all night. She was doing her funny voices and I was pushing all different buttons on my tape recorder and getting sound effects. And then as the sun rose we made love and that was Two Virgins.” This was John’s first recording project that did not feature any help from the other Beatles. $6,000 - $8,000