Imagine being a man in one of the greatest bands in rock ‘n’ roll history, celebrated by millions around the world. The Beatles need no further introduction, and neither does John Lennon. Many musicians, from Dave Grohl to Billy Joel have been inspired by the legendary band over the years. And now, they can write music from the exact piano Lennon used, when he penned some of The Beatles’ most popular songs.
The grand piano is one of the unsold lots from Sotheby’s New York A Rock & Roll Anthology: From Folk to Fury sale, which took place on 10 December. It was used to compose Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, A Day in the Life and other songs from The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, their eighth studio album.
The John Broadwood and Sons cottage piano, circa 1872, is a marvel in itself. It features an ornate ebony case with incised gilt lining and a keyboard supported by two fluted columns, a beautiful fretwork panel backed by scarlet cloth at the front, and a pair of brass candle holders at the sides.
The piano was one of two in Lennon’s Kentwood Home in Surrey, during The Beatles’ 1960s heyday. As with every other musician, he had a favourite instrument to compose his music on — and the cottage beauty was it.
Before gifting it to a friend in 1971, Lennon commissioned a brass plaque on it – engraved with the songs he wrote using the piano.
The instrument is estimated to fetch up to S$2.59 million, and isn’t the first of Lennon’s instruments to go under the hammer: In 2000, the musician’s Imagine Steinway piano — which he acquired in 1970 — was purchased by English singer-songwriter George Michael for S$3.02 million. Michael returned it to a Liverpool museum the following year, after reportedly using it to record a song for his album.
According to the Associated Press, Michael commented that the piano was “not the type of thing that should be in storage somewhere or being protected, it should be seen by people.”
Other John Lennon possessions on auction include his wire-rimmed glasses (sold at S$62,844) and a collection of his candid photographs taken from 1968 to the early 1980s (estimated to fetch up to S$21,556).
There will never be another John Lennon, and we believe that his legacy should be preserved in a museum — where the whole world can appreciate its beauty and history.
After all, we may be dreamers — but we’re not the only ones.