John Lennon, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson, mid-1970’s, studio console peed upon – not very hard to believe.
Letter regarding said peed-upon console being auctioned for £53,000 pounds, or $88,000 dollars, somewhat jaw dropping.
Not that John Lennon memorabilia and collectibles aren’t popular, or don’t fetch top prices at auction, but the ‘Matter of Pee’ letter is exceptional.
Expected to go for between $6,600 and $9,900, the resulting $88,000 for the letter from Lennon to Phil Specter is “nothing to pee on”.
Perhaps it’s the story, and characters involved, another example of truth being stranger than fiction: Keith Moon, the legendary partier and drummer for the Who, Harry Nilsson, the eccentric talent and best friend to Lennon during the time, and of course, John Lennon himself, lost and rudderless, adrift first from the Beatles and then, at that time, Yoko Ono.
John Lennon wrote the letter during the mid-1970’s while living in Los Angeles, a time Lennon referred to as the ‘Lost Weekend’. Yoko Ono had kicked him out and, accompanied by the Ono-appointed May Pang, Lennon teamed up with Nilsson and others in L.A. for some booze fueled rock ‘n roll which ultimately lead to disastrous debauchery.
Apparently facing eviction from the studio he’d rented, in part because of the poorly treated and sullied audio board, John Lennon wrote, “Should you not know, it was Harry (Nilsson) and Keith (Moon) who p***ed on the console!” and “Tell (the studio owner) to bill Capitol for the damage, if any?”
Deflecting any blame and/or responsibility, Lennon further displays his talents for debate, “I can’t be expected to mind adult rock stars, nor can May (Pang). Besides, she works for me, not A&M.”
Lennon concludes his valuable note to Specter, “I’m about to p**s off to Record Plant (a different studio) because of this crap.”
Lennon’s letter later ended up in the hands of guitarist Jesse Ed Davis who worked with John and was reportedly bought by a private collector from London auction house, Cooper Owen Music Media Auctions.
Regarding the surprisingly high price, according to Cooper Owen, “This price reflects the fact that it has never been on the market before and refers to so many famous people of the time.”
Lennon, Moon and Nilsson’s lives also entertwined in other ways, with both creative achievements and tragedy.
Nilsson owned a flat in London that he seldom used, so often he rented it out to friends and others in the music biz. One of those happened to be Cass Elliot,of Mamas and Papas fame, who was found dead of heart failure in one of the flat’s bedroom’s after a strenuous show in 1974. She was just 32,
On September 7, 1978, Keith Moon died in the same room from an overdose of clomethiazole, a drug used to fight alcohol addiction. Moon was 32 also. Ironically, he had been out that night with Paul and Linda McCartney to see The Buddy Holly Story.
May be a cliche but again, truth is often stranger than fiction, the life of John Lennon another example, and the auction price of the ‘Matter of Pee’ letter, a Lennon historical footnote.