John Lennon’s post-Beatles breakup letter to Paul McCartney goes up for auction

Virgin Radio

7 Aug 2022, 20:56

(L-R) Paul McCartney and John Lennon

Credit: Getty

John Lennon's letter to Paul McCartney following the break up of The Beatles has gone up for auction and currently has a high bid of $28,000.

The day The Beatles split up - 10th April, 1970 - was a very bad day.

Shortly afterwards, John Lennon, not known for being especially moderate with his emotions or opinions, took out his typewriter and wrote a letter to his songwriting partner, which you can read here.

The letter, written in 1971, was a direct response to Paul McCartney’s then-recent interview with music paper Melody Maker, wherein he openly discussed the dissolution of the Beatles’ partnership as well as his thoughts on Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono —or the singular JOHNANDYOKO, as Lennon himself dubs he and his wife Yoko in the letter.

The letter is currently listed on the auction house Gotta Have Rock and Roll, which estimates the bidding on the authenticated letter to reach $40,000 by the time the auction closes on 19th August.

The letter is addressed to the editors of Melody Maker with “please publish ‘equal time'” written at the top of it, and focuses on the legal battle that brewed between McCartney and Lennon following the break-up of the legendary band, detailing their fragmented relationship as their respective lawyers fought over royalties, Apple Records and the Lennon/McCartney writing credit. 

“We give you money for your bits of Apple,” Lennon wrote. “We give you more money in the form of royalties, which legally belong to Apple. (I know we’re Apple, but on the other hand, we’re not.)”

(L-R) Paul McCartney and John Lennon

Credit: Getty

Lennon then accuses McCartney of attempting to get fellow Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr to turn on Lennon amid the fierce legal battle. “If you’re not the aggressor (as you claim), who the hell took us to court and shit all over us in public?” Lennon enquires.

Lennon defends his then-recent single 'Imagine' against the criticism McCartney had levied at it (“It’s ‘working class here’ with sugar on it for conservatives like yourself”), his move to New York City (“The only place to be… I’ll bet you your piece of the Apple you’ll be living in New York by 1974″) and a succession of digs at McCartney’s expense ("If we’re not cool, WHAT DOES THAT MAKE YOU?”).

Go on John, tell us what you really think...

McCartney spoke to John's youngest son Sean for a BBC documentary to mark what would have been Lennon's 80th birthday, in 2020. He said the pair had reconciled before Lennon was murdered in 1980.

“I always say to people, one of the great things for me was that after all The Beatles rubbish and all the arguing and the business, you know, business differences really… that even after all of that, I’m so happy that I got it back together with your dad."

He continued: “It really, really would have been a heartache to me if we hadn’t have reunited. It was so lovely too that we did, and it really gives me sort of strength to know that.”