Amid more than 100 paintings and sculptures up for sale at an auction in Copenhagen, Denmark, there lies an unlikely item of pop memorabilia: a long-lost tape containing an unreleased John Lennon song.
The four interviewers, then 16-year-old schoolboys, have put the tape up for sale over 50 years after it was recorded, according to auction house Bruun Rasmussen. At the time, Lennon and Ono were visiting Thy in Jutland, Denmark, in order to resolve a custody dispute between Ono and her ex-husband over their daughter Kyoko, who is also featured in the photographs.
The four boys, who used to help produce their school magazine, were granted permission to skip class in the hope of securing an interview with Lennon and Ono, the auction house said. On January 5, 1970, they were granted access to a small press conference, alongside a small group of journalists, where they asked about the peace movement and Lennon’s music career. (At the time, Lennon was pursuing a solo career following the release of The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” the year before.)
The 33-minute recording also includes an impromptu performance, after one of the boys asked Lennon if he could play something for them. The Beatle sang “Give Peace a Chance,” first performed at the pair’s famous “Bed-in” protest in Montreal in 1969, before playing an unreleased song, “Radio Peace.”
The tape, which contains the 33 minute interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, as well as polaroid pictures captured by one of the schoolboys. Credit: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images
Written to accompany a proposed Amsterdam radio station of the same name, “Radio Peace” can be “considered a kind of younger sibling” to “Give Peace a Chance,” the auction house said. But the radio station never made it to air and the song was never released.
Elsewhere in the recording, one of the four young interviewers, Karsten Højen, can be heard asking about what young people can do to champion the anti-war movement, to which Lennon and Ono suggested using posters and happenings promoting messages of peace. At one point, Lennon and Ono were also convinced to dance around the Christmas tree while everyone sang a Danish carol.
In photographs taken by Højen’s schoolmate, Jesper Jungersen, Lennon is seen wearing his iconic round glasses and long tresses alongside Ono, who is dressed in all black. In another, the pair are crammed onto a red sofa alongside Kyoko in front of Christmas decorations.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Denmark in 1970. The pair cut their hair after their interview with the schoolboys, where they were seen with long hair in photographs. Credit: Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
“We shared a common destiny with them in relation to music and the progressive ideology of peace. The two celebrities shaped our generation and the entire counter-culture movement.”
Spanning 12 tapes and over 90 minutes, the recordings delve into behind-the-scenes details of “Abbey Road,” the War is Over movement and Lennon’s protests against the execution of convicted murderer James Hanratty.
Most of the interviews are “previously unheard,” according to auction house Omega Auctions, which described the collection as a “truly unique and inspiring archive of interviews (that) deserve to be heard by all who love The Beatles and John Lennon.”
Recording of ‘unheard’ John Lennon song up for auction