LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — An angry letter John Lennon wrote to a Lexington man about his religious beliefs is going up for auction.
“Listen, Brother, Why don’t you Jesus Freaks get off peoples backs?” Lennon said in the handwritten letter dated Oct. 1, 1971.
He continued, “its been the same for two thousand years—wont you ever learn? those who know do not speak, those who speak do not know, your peace of mind doesn’t show in your neurotic letter, son. One mans meat—brother! Peace off!”
The missive, written on the letterhead of Apple, the Beatles’ record label, is signed “John & Yoko, ’71.”
The framed note and envelope addressed by Lennon himself, along with a matchbook and statement of provenance, are up for bidding online through RR Auction.
The recipient of the note was Tom Bonfield, who at the time lived in an apartment at 628 Lawrence Street, which is in the South Hill neighborhood near the University of Kentucky campus.
Lennon was writing in response to a letter Bonfield had sent him about his Christian faith.
Bonfield wrote in the statement of provenance framed alongside the letter from Lennon that he didn’t intend to tick Lennon off.
“His angry response was totally unexpected,” Bonfield wrote in the statement, which is dated Jan. 26, 1993.
Bonfield said that when he listened to the album “Imagine,” it conveyed “a feeling of hopelessness” to him, so he wrote to Lennon about it.
“I wrote that things were not so negative, and went on to share my religious beliefs in an uplifting and non-threatening manner,” Bonfield wrote. “I was not condemning or judgmental in the least, but apparently I hit a sore spot with what I was saying.”
Bonfield wrote that he also enclosed a religious tract, “The Four Spiritual Laws,” with his letter to Lennon and wrote “this might help” on it.
Lennon’s response to that? A book of matches from the St. Regis-Sheraton in New York, where he lived with Yoko Ono. On it, Lennon wrote, “this will help.”
“John Lennon made no bones about his personal feelings towards religion or, more specifically, Christianity,” Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction, said in a statement.
Lennon famously expressed his views in a 1966 interview in the London Evening Standard in which he was quoted as saying the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.”
“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink,” he said. “...Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”
Lennon, who was murdered in 1980 by Mark David Chapman, would have turned 80 years old this year.
The letter was consigned for auction by a collector who bought it in the 1990s from a document dealer, a spokesman said.
Bidding begins Nov. 12 and starts at $2,500. The auction house estimates that it could sell for $25,000 to $35,000.
Other items up for grabs as part of the Marvels of Modern Music auction include everything from Bob Dylan’s handwritten “Blowin’ in the Wind” lyrics to a shirt worn on stage by Bob Marley.