COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Half a century ago, four Danish teenagers interviewed John Lennon for their school paper. A cassette tape with a 33-minute audio recording of the chat, which also includes an apparently unpublished song by the late Beatle, will be auctioned in Denmark later this month.
The 16-year-olds were not star-struck when they did the interview in northern Denmark on Jan. 5, 1970. At the height of the Vietnam War and the Cold War, Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono had “a message of peace, and that was what was important to us,” recalled Karsten Hoejen, who made the recording on a tape recorder borrowed from the local hi-fi shop.
The tape chiefly consists of Lennon and Ono speaking about being in Denmark and world peace, Hoejen said Wednesday. Alternative societies mushroomed in Denmark from the late 1960s, attracting people from abroad, and music festivals were organized inspired by those on the Isle of Wight and Woodstock.
“Their peace message was what we came for,” Hoejen told The Associated Press. “There was a very relaxed atmosphere, a cozy atmosphere. Lennon and Ono had their feet on the (coffee) table.”
Lennon and Ono were in the Danish region of Thy where Ono’s ex-husband had moved to and brought Kyoko, the couple’s then five-year-old daughter with him. They stayed for about a month and tried to lie low — which worked for about a week.
Then a local newspaper reported their presence and the press rushed to interview them. The four 16-year-olds wanted to interview Lennon for their school magazine but turned up late for the official press conference.
“We knocked on the door” and moments later they sat next to the British musician and Ono. Hoejen held the microphone, and his friend Jesper Jungersen photographed.
At some point, “someone … I cannot recall who … asked Lennon if could play the guitar for us.” He played and sang with Ono ‘Give peace a chance’ and “then they sang ‘Radio Peace.’” It was made for a radio station in The Netherlands but was never aired, Hoejen said.
The items — the tape, 23 still photos and a copy of the school paper — have been estimated to be worth at least 200,000 kroner (nearly $31,800).
“What also makes (the tape) interesting is that it is a time pocket.” It was recorded on an old-fashioned tape recorder,” said Alexa Bruun Rasmussen of Denmark’s main auction house Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneer that will auction the items on Sept. 28.
“When listening to the tape, you realize that they talk straight from their hearts. This is not a staged press conference.”
The four boys behind the interview eventually found out that they “were sitting on a treasure. So the cassette was put in a bank vault,” Hoejen said, and they debated what to do with it.
“A collector or a museum would likely get more of it than us having it in a bank vault,” he said. “So we decided to sell it.”