John Lennon made desperate bid to boost Yoko Ono's music career, new letter reveals
JOHN Lennon tried in vain to boost the popularity of wife Yoko Ono and revive her failing music career by getting her onto TV, a newly-surfaced letter has revealed.
By: Max Evans
Published: Mon, October 13, 2014
The former Beatle wrote to popular chat show host Joe Franklin in 1971 in a desperate bid to promote Ono's album, Fly, which he described as "free form music" - despite critics hating it.
Although Lennon's post-Beatles career was thriving at the time, Ono's music was routinely panned. Largely blamed for the break-up of the Fab Four, Ono and her music were considered too strange for chart success.
Her debut album, 1970's Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band had been a financial and critical flop and Fly was headed the same way when Lennon wrote to Franklin hoping his influence would get Ono a guest spot on his show.
The "hugely significant" missive is expected to achieve a five-figure price when it goes to auction in the US later this month.
Bobby Livingston, of RR Auction, said the written plea ultimately failed, adding: "Even the biggest rock star in the world couldn't convince the executives of Yoko's talent."
The letter detailing John Lennon's efforts to bolster Yoko Ono's career will go under the hammer [HULTON ARCHIVE/BNPS]
In the letter, which has never been published, Lennon appealed to Franklin as someone who "digs jazz" to listen to Ono's music, which he says "sits in the middle of avante-garde, classic, jazz-and now through me and my music - rock 'n' roll".
Lennon explains that Ono's musical "experiment" continues on the album, with its use of "robot musicians". He also points to the song, Mrs Lennon, which he says shows "her more conservative side".
Lennon ends the letter, dated December 13, 1971, with a word of advice for Franklin, writing: "It's far out, but don't let that frighten you".
But Lennon's best efforts at persuasion were in vain, with Ono never appearing as a guest on Franklin's show and her album reaching just 199 on the Billboard chart.
The rambling, handwritten missive features two red stamps on it - one of a doodle drawn by Lennon of himself and Ono and another of a finger.
The note was written on notepaper headed Apple, the record label founded by the Beatles, and in the subject box Lennon has scrawled "Yoko's music".
It was sold by Franklin, now 88, and bought by a private American collector who has now listed it for sale.
Yoko Ono was widely blamed for the break-up of the Beatles [HULTON ARCHIVE]
The letter is expected to fetch $20,000 - around £12,000 - when it goes under the hammer at RR Auction in Boston, Massachusetts.
Mr Livingston said: "At the time this letter was written Yoko Ono was the subject of vicious attacks from the press - along with the public they blamed her for the break-up of the Beatles.
"It was a rough time for John and Yoko - she was an avant-garde artist and she didn't fit with Lennon's rock star image.
"Joe Franklin had a famous and very popular late night chat show in New York.
"Lennon wrote to Franklin to promote Yoko's new record which was getting slaughtered by the critics.
"There is a real air of desperation about the letter. He wanted the press and the public to accept Yoko Ono as a mainstream artist and so he personally validates Yoko's work.
Mr Livingston said Lennon wanted to convince Joe Franklin that Yoko could be a "good guest".
"But ultimately," he added, "her music was terrible and Lennon's efforts were in vain because she never appeared on the show."
He added: "The letter is hugely significant for a number of reasons - you never see John Lennon write on Apple stationary and you never see long letters from him.
"Joe Franklin sold some of his possessions some years ago and this letter was bought by a private collector who is now selling it.
"The market for John Lennon memorabilia only gets stronger and there will be huge interest in this sale."
Accompanying the letter is a note of authenticity from Frank Caiazzo, a world authority on the Beatles. The auction will take place on October 23.
John Lennon was shot dead at the age of 40 by a crazed fan outside his New York apartment in 1980. Japan-born Ono, 81, continues to produce music and art and works as a peace activist.
The letter to TV host Joe Franklin is expected to fetch £12,000 at auction [BNPS]
Yoko Ono, 81, is still performing and working as an activist [GETTY]