John Lennon handwritten lyrics sell for $1.2 million

Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:00pm EDT
 
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - John Lennon's handwritten lyrics to "A Day in the Life" sold for $1.2 million in New York on Friday, almost doubling the estimated price, Sotheby's auction house said.

Considered one of the Beatles' greatest songs and the final track on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", the lyrics were sold to a private American collector on the telephone after an intense six minute bidding battle, Sotheby's said.

"The outstanding price achieved for these handwritten lyrics is testament to the iconic status of the Beatles, John Lennon and especially this song," said David Redden, Sotheby's Books and Manuscripts Department international chairman.

According to Sotheby's, the record for Beatles lyrics at auction is $1.25 million paid for "All You Need Is Love" in 2005.

Sotheby's described "A Day in the Life" as "the revolutionary song that marked the Beatles' transformation from pop icons to artists."

The single sheet of paper features a rough draft of the lyrics, including crossings out and a spelling error where "film" is written as "flim".

On the reverse side is a neater version written in capital letters and with fewer corrections.

Apparently added later is the line: "I love to turn you on", for which the song was banned by the BBC when it first came out in 1967 because the words were deemed to be a reference to taking drugs.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band topped the U.S. and British charts, won four Grammy awards in 1968 and is ranked number 26 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The lyrics once belonged to Mal Evans, the Beatles' road manager.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Mike Collett-White)