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In the interview, Lennon says that someone else sat his art exam for him because he was touring with the band.
Then, when asked if he thought of The Beatles primarily as musicians or entertainers, Lennon says: “I’ve never thought about it really but I suppose, we don’t count ourselves as good musicians, so I suppose we’re entertainers, but we don’t entertain much ‘cause we just stand there, so I suppose we must be musicians.”
In the interview, Lennon also says that he would have been a “lay-about” if not in the band, and discusses his reading choices, music taste, The Rolling Stones, and making money: “Whatever I’d be, I’d choose to be rich .... who wants to walk down the street?”
The eight-and-a-half-minute interview was recorded by John Hill in October 1964 before a Beatles gig at the A.B.C. Theatre Hull on behalf of the university newspaper Torchlight. The 18-year-old Hull Art College student then left the tape in his drawer for about 50 years.
“I was the youngest person in the room and the only one with a microphone,” Hill was reported as saying by the BBC. “Lennon was really interested in the [reel-to-reel] machine... we ended up in a corner doing an interview with passing newsmen throwing in the odd question.”
Now, the interview is being auctioned by David Duggleby Auctioneers in Scarborough along with the recording machine, student magazine articles, a transcript of the interview, two photos of Hill with Lennon and a photo of Paul McCartney with another reporter.
Hill went on to become a schoolteacher and Leeds University lecturer. He found the tape during a big clear-out, and then sold it to a Hull antiques and memorabilia collector.
The Beatles’ first studio album Please Please Me had been released just six months earlier. By May it was at the top of the UK album charts, a spot it stayed at for over 30 weeks until it was replaced by With the Beatles, the band’s second studio album. So at the time of the interview, Lennon was already a bona fide celebrity – a major scoop for the young journalist Hill.
Lennon’s most infamous interview, perhaps, was perhaps in 1971 on The Dick Cavett Show when he answered the question as to whether Yoko Ono broke up The Beatles.
He said: “She didn’t split The Beatles because how could one girl or one woman split The Beatles, they were drifting apart on their own.”
The lot will be sold on Friday by David Duggleby Auctioneers.