The ongoing legacy of John Lennon

John Lennon remains among an elite of celebrities, able to attract newspaper headlines in death as much as he did in life.

In today's newspapers, the Lennon reports focus on a newly revealed "forgotten" interview given by Lennon to two star-struck student interviewers in a six-hours-long rant at his home, in 1971.

The main crux of Lennon's rant is his "furious" (according to British newspaper the Guardian) response to accusations by the radical journalist Tariq Ali that he wasn't radical at all, and instead just another rock 'n' roll 'sell out'.

Radical, man: Lennon in 1969
Radical, man: John Lennon in 1969

Over the following nine years (during which he patched things up with Ali) little doubt would remain as to Lennon's growing mainstream status as rock radicalist.

Decades after his tragic death in 1980, Lennon's period as a long-haired activist is as much a part of his legacy as his 'mop-topped' golden days with the Beatles.

And, unsurprisingly, the legacy of the man who once sang "imagine no possessions" has contributed to some big sales on the auction block.

In fact, according to research by Worth magazine earlier this year, the two most collectible items of celebrity memorabilia in the world are from Lennon's later years.

At number two in Worth's list is Lennon's Steinway piano, on which he composed is most famous solo single, Imagine. None other than UK pop singer George Michael won the piano in 2000, with a bid of $2.1m.

Meanwhile, occupying Worth's number one spot is Lennon's hand painted Rolls Royce Phantom V, repainted with 'psychedelic' scrolls and flowers by the coachworks company J.P. Fallon Limited.

The car also boats a rear seat convertible to a double bed, a custom interior-exterior sound system with a 'loud hailer', a Sony television and portable refrigerator.

It reportedly last sold to Jim Pattison, a Canadian businessman, 1985 for $2.23m.

As interest in Lennon's possessions continues, so does a fascination with his ability to cause controversy. A signed copy of the magazine in which Lennon infamously proclaimed the Beatles "more popular than Jesus" sold for $13,000 in New York, earlier this year.

The issue is autographed by Lennon himself: " from John C Lennon," a cheeky reference to Jesus Christ's initials.

Elsewhere, John Lennon's DA Milling designed jacket and pants, worn during his Beatles days, brought $12,800 at Julien's Auction's headline-grabbing sale at the Hard Rock Cafe, last month.

In fact, in 2009, according to Forbes, John Lennon remains the fourth highest earning dead celebrity, just ahead of Albert Einstein and behind Charles M Schultz, creator of the Snoopy cartoon (click here to see who the surprise number one is...).

As his legacy continues to go from strength to strength, John Lennon will undoubtedly continue to be the subject of newspaper headlines in 2010.



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