LONDON — When John Lennon gave Gail Renard the scribbled lyrics to “Give Peace a Chance” in 1969, he told the teen to hold on to the piece of paper.
“It will be worth something someday,” predicted Lennon, who was in the midst of his famous eight-day “bed-in” with his new wife, Yoko Ono, in Montreal.
She did, and it is. Christie’s plans to auction the lyric sheet in July as the centerpiece in its rock and pop memorabilia sale. The words to the enduring peace anthem are expected to fetch more than $400,000.
The lyrics will go on public view July 5 in London and will be auctioned July 10. They will also be available for viewing by appointment in New York on May 7-10.
“I think the interest is there because this is certainly one of the most recognizable and influential of John Lennon’s solo compositions,” said Helen Hall, head of the popular culture department at Christie’s South Kensington. “It’s important not just as one of Lennon’s most famous peace anthems, it’s also the fact that it was written at such a historical event.”
Few believe the lyric is an example of great songwriting. The Beatles had moved beyond their cute mop-top phase and their psychedelic infatuation, but were close to breaking apart as Lennon, heavily influenced by Ono, became a utopian peace activist.
Determined to focus world attention on the war in Vietnam, the newlyweds moved into suite 1742 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel and invited the world’s media to come interview them.
Renard, a teenage fan who sneaked past security guards, was among the first to arrive. She befriended Lennon, helped look after Ono’s young daughter, Kyoto, and made copies of the song Lennon wrote during the “bed-in” so their friends could read the lyrics and record it in the room.