Sunday, March 22, 2015

Long-Lost John Lennon Letter Inspires Hollywood Movie

In 1971, a small music magazine called ZigZag published an interview with a 21-year-old British singer-songwriter named Steve Tilston. At one point Tilston was asked if fame and fortune — should he be lucky enough to achieve them — would change his art. He said they would probably have a negative effect on his songwriting.

Tilston needn't have worried — he never became famous (although he's sustained a career as a professional musician, and good for him). But his comments in ZigZag caught the eye of John Lennon, who at the time was 30 years old and in the early stages of his post-Beatles solo career. Lennon jotted out a note (see above) telling Tilston and the writer who'd interviewed him, Richard Howell, that money didn't actually change anything. Here's what he wrote:

Dear Steve Tilston + Richard Howell

Being rich doesn't change your experiences in the way you think. The only difference basically is that you don't have you worry about money - food - roof - etc. But all other experiences - emotions - relationships - are the same as anybodies. I know, I've been rich and poor and so has Yoko (rich-poor-rich). So whadya think of that.

John + Yoko

Lennon mailed the letter to Tilston in care of the ZigZag offices, but Tilston never received it. It's not clear what initially happened to it (maybe it was waylaid by a ZigZag staffer who opened the envelope and decided that a handwritten letter from John Lennon was too special not to keep), but Tilston didn't learn of its existence until around 2005, 34 years after it had been written, when a collector contacted him and asked him if he could vouch for its authenticity. Tilston was confused because he'd never known about the letter in the first place. It had apparently been bought and sold several times by that point. (Yoko Ono later confirmed that she remembered Lennon writing the letter.)

This story is now the rough basis of a new movie called Danny Collins, which features Al Pacino playing a popular singer in the latter stages of his life and career who receives a long-lost letter from John Lennon, triggering a major personal reassessment. Here's the trailer, which, frankly, looks awful:

I don't think I'll be seeing Danny Collins, but I do like that a lost letter has inspired a movie. And it's also nice that Steve Tilston is getting a bit of fame out of this after all.

1 comment:

  1. Tilston needs to get the letter back. Stealing US Mail is a felony, isn't it?