Lennon's Angry Letter to McCartney Up for Sale

'You know damn well we can't just sign a bit of paper'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2022 10:38 AM CDT
Lennon's Angry Letter to McCartney Up for Sale
In this Aug. 23, 1966, file photo, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison appear at a press conference in New York.   (AP Photo, File)

An angry note John Lennon penned to Paul McCartney after the breakup of the Beatles has resurfaced on the auction block. Lennon sent one copy of the three-page typed letter dated Nov. 24, 1971, to McCartney and another to Richard Williams, the editor of British music magazine Melody Maker, urging him to publish it, which he did, per TMZ. It is this copy—including Lennon's handwritten notes and signature—that is expected to fetch up to $40,000 in a Gotta Have Rock and Roll auction this month. The letter came in response to an interview McCartney gave to Melody Maker, a little over a year after the Beatles split, in which he spoke critically of his former band members, who were arguing about money, and stated he didn't like any of Lennon's records but Imagine.

"I just want the four of us to get together somewhere and sign a piece of paper saying it's all over and we want to divide the money four ways … but John won't do it," McCartney said. "Everybody thinks I am the aggressor but I'm not," he added. To which Lennon responded: "It's all very well, playing 'simple honest ole Paul' in Melody Maker but you know damn well we can't just sign a bit of paper. You say, 'John won't do it.' I will if you indemnify us against the tax — man!" He implored McCartney to first meet him without lawyers. "As we've said many times, we'll meet whenever you like … but you refused," he wrote. "You said under NO CONDITION would you sell to us if we didn't do what you wanted, you'd sue us again and that Ringo and George are going to break you John."

"If YOU'RE not the aggressor (as you claim) who the hell took us to court and shat all over us in public?" Lennon added. Before signing off with "no hard feelings," he referenced McCartney's criticism of Lennon's albums as too political. "Your politics are very similar to Mary Whitehouse's—'Saying nothing is as loud as saying something,'" he wrote. The letter, "at times acrimonious, at times thoughtful and pleading," is "an incredible insight into the relationship of John and Paul, not just during the break-up and the aftermath, but really the deepness of their entire friendship," according to the auction house. There are no bids yet on the letter, which carries a minimum bid of $20,000. The auction, including a pair of Lennon's reading glasses and other Beatles items, wraps up Aug. 19. (More Beatles stories.)

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