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John Lennon autographed magazine sells for $12,713

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Written by Auction House PR and ACN Staff   
Thursday, 17 September 2009 13:28
1966 Datebook magazine autographed by John Lennon, sold for $12,713 through Image courtesy

AMHERST, N.H. - of Amherst, N.H., has auctioned a 1966 magazine autographed by John Lennon for $12,713. The magazine includes an article in which Lennon's controversial quote appears about the Beatles being "more popular than Jesus Christ."

The winning bidder was Dr. Ron Grelsamer, an orthopedic surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

"These were Lennon's first public thoughts on matters outside the entertainment world, and the reaction to his statements was more a reflection of the Bible Belt's concerns with rock 'n 'roll and declining morality than anything else," said Dr. Grelsamer, shortly after being notified that he had placed the winning bid. "I also liked that this was the last time Lennon would apologize for any of his views."

"Christianity will go," Lennon said in the September 1966 issue of the American teen magazine Datebook. "It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now. I don't know which will go first - rock and roll or Christianity."

Lennon, whose middle initial at birth was "W" for "Winston" (later changed to "O" for "Ono"), signed across the photo accompanying his printed interview with the name "John C. Lennon." Presumably this was a sacrilegious reference to Christ.

The autographed magazine belonged to Datebook publisher Arthur Unger, who sent reprints of the Lennon article to Bible belt radio stations. Subsequently, masses of people burned their Beatles records in protest.

Unger recounted in a 1998 New York Times story that Beatles Manager Brian Epstein had been unconcerned about the outcry, stating, "They have to buy the records before they burn them."

According to Professor Brian Ward, expert on the Beatles and American popular culture and Chair of American Studies at the University of Manchester, England, the uproar was most intense in the American South, where many members of clergy condemned

Lennon's remarks as blasphemous. Ward added that most Beatles fans were easily able "to reconcile their love of the Lord with their love of Lennon."

Ironically, the original interview with Lennon stating that the Beatles were "bigger than Jesus" had been published by a British newspaper six months before the Datebook article, but there had been no backlash in England.

"Given that the mysterious ‘C' in John's signature falls right under the ‘C' in ‘Christianity' (in the Datebook article), and knowing Lennon's mischievous sense of humor, he was probably just punning on the name of another well known ‘JC,'" Ward said.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 17 September 2009 16:18

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