Lennon Letter Blasts Capitol Records, Defends Beatles' Image
By TARA WALLIS-FINESTONE
Thu, Sep 16, 2010
A newly revealed letter, believed to be written by John Lennon, could provide truth to the rumors that have circulated for decades: Lennon was not happy with Capitol Records, his former record label.
In the type-written letter dated "year of our Ford 76," an animated Lennon was angry, funny, and also fighting to protect the image of the Fab Four. The letter is part of a Rock 'N' Roll Treasure that a Southern California woman has shared exclusively with NBCLA.
Patti Daley said it was given to her decades ago while she and her then boyfriend, guitarist Jesse Ed Davis, were visiting Lennon and his family in New York City.
Lennon was upset about the artwork Capitol selected for the Beatles first compilation album, "Rock 'N' Roll Music." At the time, 50s nostalgia was at a peak and the album featured a glossy color portrait of The Beatles against a shiny silver background.
Lennon began the letter by teeing off on the the title: "I think the title is too long ROCK N ROLL BEATLES is short and sweet, clear and neat."
He then complained about the artwork: "the cover looks like a Monkey's reject...in fact it looks like the kind of crap E.M.I used to insist on in the early days, it's definitely not a ROCK N ROLL cover."
Lennon suggested that Capitol should contact Astrid Kirshner, a well-known photographer who chronicled the Beatles' meteoric rise in the 1960s. He even wrote down how to contact her in Hamburg, Germany.
Incredibly, Lennon also accused Capitol of trying to "bury" the Beatles image: "If you insist on using your funeral parlour picture I think you are misjudging the Beatles image/market/critics/fans... in fact you are burying them Beatles... its up to you."
He went on: "Don't try to make a silk shirt out of a pigs ass...i.e. making Stereo out of Mono."
And he ends the letter cheerfully, "all the best from yer old pal Lennon." He also instructed that all his former band mates get a copy of the letter.
The letter, which has yet to be authenticated, appears to be a copy of the original, and while it might not be worth a lot of money to collectors, to Beatles fans and Rock 'N' Roll historians, it provides incredible insight to the tenuous relationship between the Fab Four and their former record label.
"In the 1970s, Capitol was putting out Beatles compilation albums and the band members didn't even know what songs would make the albums," said Chris Carter, host of the nationally syndicated radio program "Breakfast With the Beatles."
"Lennon wasn't too persuasive with that letter," laughed Carter. "As it stands 'Rock 'N Roll Music' could be the worst Beatles album of all time."