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Monday, March 15, 2010

New photos of Beatles' John Lennon appear after 40 years

Candid pictures of John Lennon which have never been seen in public have been found after being kept hidden in a photographer's drawer for more than 40 years.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono who is talking to 16-year-old Gail Renard: New photos of Beatles' John Lennon appear after 40 years
John Lennon and Yoko Ono who is talking to 16-year-old Gail Renard Photo: CATERS

The extraordinary photos of the musician and Yoko Ono, taken during their famous Bed-in for Peace in Montreal in 1969, snapped by Life photographer Gerry Deiter.

He was the only photojournalist allowed to witness and document the bed-in for the full eight days and managed to capture pictures of the couple totally off-guard.

But his story about them, due to run in Life magazine, was ditched at the last minute for an article on the Vietnam war.

Since the photographer's death in 2005, the unpublished photos were hidden away until this week, when they go on exhibition for the first time in Coventry Cathedral, West Mids, on Saturday.

Lennon and Yoko flew to Montreal on May 26 where they stayed in Room 1738 and 1742 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, writing and recording the song Give Peace a Chance from their bedroom.

Nick Chevasse, the Cathedral's tourist director, said the photos had only recently been unearthed.

He said "Gerry Deiter was the only photojournalist there the entire eight days, with complete access.

"He was on assignment for Life magazine, but his story was bumped in favour for one about Vietnam.

"The photos were never published, they never ran, so Deiter hid them away.

"This is why many of the images are not familiar, even to Lennon fans - they have never been seen before by anybody.

"He captured the celebrity visitors, the action and intimate, behind the scenes moments between John and Yoko."

The candid pictures show the couple writing and recording their song to peace during their week long stay.

Lennon, holding his iconic guitar, looks relaxed as he pens what would become the first solo single released while the Beatles were officially still together.

In one photograph, while John strums his guitar, Yoko chats to 16-year-old Gail Reynard.

The youngster had scaled the hotel's fire escape and pleaded with the couple to let her stay.

And as one of the few to be present for the entire event, Gail was given the original handwritten lyrics for Lennon's peace song.

Gail, now a TV comedy writer, sold the piece of rock history at auction for £400,000 in 2008.

She said the photos brought back great memories from the iconic protest.

She said: "When I first saw the images from the exhibition, I was carried straight back to that amazing time.

"They started to unlock details that I thought I had forgotten."

When the song was released it quickly became the anthem of the anti-war movement, and was sung by half a million demonstrators in Washington, D.C. at the Vietnam Moratorium Day, on 15 October 1969.

It was narrowly pipped to the UK number one spot by The Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women".