On June 4, in New York City, you can buy a bit of music history — one of the drawings, doodles, or manuscripts that John Lennon left behind after he was fatally shot in 1980 by Mark Chapman. Chapman has been denied parole seven times. The collection of the Beatles singer’s artwork and writing that is being auctioned off is called the “You Might Well Arsk” sale.
Tom Maschler, who worked with John Lennon on his books “A Spaniard in the Works” and “In His Own Write,” is putting the items up for sale. In the 1960s, John Lennon wrote the books and also did the illustrations for them.
One of the items in the auction that will likely do well is a manuscript written in 1965 called “The Singularge Experience of Miss Anne Duffield.” Pre-auction estimates are that it will sell for anywhere from $40,000 – $60,000.
Another item that is expected to fetch a substantial amount of money is a drawing John Lennon did of a four-eyed guitar player. Lennon drew the piece sometime either in 1964 or 1965. It has been estimated to sell for somewhere between $15,000 – $25,000.
Fifty years ago, the Beatles made their North American debut on The Ed Sullivan show, at 8:00 p.m.on February 9, where they were viewed by 73 million people. That was two-fifths of the population of America. George Harrison was sick with a high fever of 102 degrees, and he was replaced for The Ed Sullivan performance by the band’s personal assistant, Neil Aspinall. The auction in New York City should do very well, as the wave of Beatles nostalgia will still be high.
On April 26, a part of the stage backdrop the Beatles used when they performed in their first live U.S. concert. That was on February 11 1964, at the Washington Coliseum, will be up for auction in New York City.
Eight thousand fans attended the concert. There were concert-goers on every side, and there were regular pauses in the performance so that the band could turn their equipment around and perform facing in another direction.
The following day, the Beatles performed another concert in Carnegie Hall, New York. It was attended by 2,000 fans, and on February 16, the Beatles made their second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, this time with George Harrison. It was broadcast live from the Napoleon Ballroom of the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach to 70 million viewers.
According to Sotheby’s auction house, the drawings and poems date back to the early 1960s. That was when Beatlemania was at its highest.
There is a reference in one of the unpublished typescripts to “Love Me Do,” the record-breaking first single the Beatles released in 1962. Lennon wrote often in a style of language that could be thought of as gibberish, yet he strove for a humorous tone. He wrote that “The Beatles (a band) hab jud make a regord,” and he added that there was a song on it called “Lub Me Jew.”
Philip Errington, director of printed books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s, compared Lennon’s writing style as being “very much like Lewis Carroll.” The works of Lewis Carroll, especially Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, were favorites of Lennon’s which, according to Errington, the Beatle singer read “on a yearly basis.”
In 1962, publisher Tom Maschler — who was the creator of the Boker Prize — met with John Lennon at a concert after he had seen the drawings and read the manuscripts. He talked Lennon into making them into a book, actually two books: In His Own Write (1964), and A Spaniard in the Works (1965).
The Sotheby’s auction in New York City of the John Lennon drawings and manuscripts will capitalize on the renewed interest in the band, as this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of when the Beatles first performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. Their performances on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9 and 16 drew record ratings, and greatly aided in making them one of the most popular groups of all time. The Sotheby auction of John Lennon material is expected to do very well, as Lennon still remains in the minds of many one of rock and roll’s best singers of all time.
Written by: Douglas Cobb