Page last updated at 08:31 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 09:31 UK

Story of 'unseen' Lennon lyrics

By Elise Czajkowski
BBC News, New York

Gail Renard with John Lennon's lyrics
Gail Renard was given the lyrics to Give Peace a Chance by John Lennon
A woman from London is set to make a fortune when John Lennon's handwritten lyrics for the anti-war song Give Peace a Chance go up for auction this summer.

They are expected to fetch between 200,000 and 300,000.

Gail Renard was a student in Montreal in May 1969, when Lennon and wife Yoko Ono arrived to hold a "bed-in" at the city's Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

She and a friend sneaked into the hotel - Renard calls it a "Mission: Impossible" routine - and up to their door.

"Yoko answered and I asked if I could have an interview for my school newspaper.

"She graciously said yes. She asked us in, and I was suddenly face-to-face with John Lennon."

On the last day, John wanted to record a song. We didn't know what it was at the time
Gail Renard

Renard and Lennon became instant friends, and he asked her to stay and help with the "bed-in".

"It was Alice in Wonderland," Renard says of the eight-day experience.

"I was a 16-year-old, with a Beatle who was my hero, and it was just a circus every minute.

"On the last day, John wanted to record a song," Renard recalls.

"We didn't know what it was at the time."

Lyrics moved

After recording Give Peace a Chance, Lennon gave Renard his original lyrics for her to keep.

These spent years hanging on a wall in Renard's study but were then moved for safety, ending up in a vault.

"I thought, this is ridiculous," she said.

John Lennon's lyrics for Give Peace a Chance
Give Peace a Chance reached number 14 in the US Billboard chart
"They should be out with somebody who can enjoy them, and they should be seen again."

She also believes the song and Lennon's message have a particular resonance now.

"It's my way of thanking him, to get his message and his song out there again, and have people thinking about it and talking about it."

The piece is the highlight of Christie's rock and pop memorabilia auction on 10 July in London.

"Beatles lyrics, and particularly in John Lennon's hand, rarely surface on the auction market, so it's very much a unique opportunity," said Helen Hall, head of popular culture at the auction house.

Other items being sold will include a collage made by Lennon as a birthday card for Elton John in the 1970s, plus an amplifier played on stage by Jimi Hendrix.

Print Sponsor

Lennon's Peace lyrics to be sold
29 Apr 08 |  Entertainment
In pictures: John Lennon 'unseen'
07 Dec 07 |  In Pictures
Ono sues over Imagine film clip
24 Apr 08 |  Entertainment
Beatles wives 'suffer', says Ono
04 Apr 08 |  Entertainment
Lennon to light up city once more
02 Mar 08 |  Merseyside
Yoko Ono to perform at art centre
07 Feb 08 |  Merseyside

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific