Teenager Who Gatecrashed 1969 Bed-In Puts Peace Anthem's Lyrics Up For Sale
By Mark Brown, arts correspondent
Twenty-seven years after his death John Lennon is to make good a promise he once made to a star-struck Canadian teenager: that he would always look after her. In one of the most keenly anticipated sales of rock memorabilia for years, Gail Renard, now a TV comedy writer, is to auction Lennon's handwritten lyrics of "Give Peace a Chance," which have hung in her study for years. The lyrics - "Everybodies talking bout [sic] /Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism, This-ism, That-ism" etc - will be sold by Christie's this summer for an estimate of between £200,000 and £300,000.
The auction has brought to light the remarkable story of how Renard was given the lyrics nearly 40 years ago.
Lennon and Yoko Ono were in Montreal for their Bed-In in 1969, a week of staying in bed calling for peace capped off by a recording of Give Peace A Chance sung by Lennon and 50 or so others in the hotel suite, including the singer Petula Clark and the beat poet Allen Ginsberg. With them for most of the week was Renard who, with a friend, got into the hotel via a fire escape with a present for Ono's five-year-old daughter, Kyoko, waited for security on Lennon's floor to change and then simply knocked on the door. "It's incredible the things you'd do when you're young that you wouldn't do now," she said.
Renard and Lennon bonded, and the self-described "hyperventilating teenager" was allowed to stay until the media circus ended. Then Lennon refused to be interviewed by the DJ Roger Scott for the city's radio station and asked Renard to do it: "Can you imagine? A 16-year-old."
Renard says she had an amazing week and remembers in particular watching A Hard Day's Night with Lennon on the TV. "My mother spoke to him and made it quite clear what the rules were - 'you keep my daughter away from sex and drugs or you answer to me' and he did. He got me home for bedtime each night, although that's probably when the drugs came out."
Lennon gave Renard several mementos, saying they would be worth something one day. He also kickstarted her writing career by telling the editor of the Beatles Monthly magazine to publish her review of the Bed-In. He promised he would always take care of her and gave her a "magic" phone number to call any time. Renard subsequently carved out a successful comedy writing career in the UK and won a Bafta in 2001 for the CBBC drama Custer's Last Stand Up.
The lyrics have hung in her study for years, but when her roof leaked she thought it was time to let them go.
Helen Hall, head of popular culture at Christie's, said she expected the lyrics to beat the $450,000 paid at Christie's in 2003 for the original of the Beatles' Nowhere Man. Also up for auction on July 10 will be several original photographs from the Bed-In.
A few months after the Bed-In, half a million anti-Vietnam protesters sang Give Peace a Chance outside the White House. Lennon said it was "one of the biggest moments of my life".
[h/t Steve Schwartz]