New Lennon Exhibit Courts Controversy

The exhibit debuting today at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex in New York City may seem like another homage to John Lennon, what with his upright piano, his trademark round-lens glasses and the 1981 Grammy Award for Double Fantasy.

Yup, that sounds like a tribute to Lennon. That is, until you spot the sealed paper bag holding the bloody clothes from the night in 1980 when crazed fan Mark David Chapman shot and killed the former Beatle outside his residence at New York City’s famed Dakota.

Photo: AP Photo
Memorabilia belonging to former Beatles member John Lennon.

“It was hard to include,” Yoko Ono said. “And I thought it might be criticized as well.”

But Lennon’s widow eventually decided the bloody clothes should be included as an example of gun violence.

“I know it’s a kind of a sad and very poignant kind of paradox I think that he loved this place so much and this is where he was killed,” Ono said, adding she still is affected by Lennon’s death.

The 76-year-old Ono also spent some time talking to the New York Post about the exhibit – dubbed “John Lennon: The New York Years” – saying it was very difficult putting it together.

“I’m so used to being around John’s work – his drawings, his lyrics, his things – on a daily basis,” Yoko told the Post, saying she became very emotional when she saw all of her late husband’s mementos gathered in a one-room exhibit.

“It shouldn’t have upset me, but it did.”

Photo: AP Photo
On display at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Annex.

While Lennon’s bloody clothes are getting the media’s attention, the exhibit also has plenty of stuff to interest fans and music history buffs alike. Such as the guitar Lennon played during his last concert at Madison Square Garden – a black Fender Telecaster, complete with sweat stains.

Other Lennon items include his handwritten lyrics for “Working Class Hero,” the green card he received in 1976 that allowed him to stay in the U.S., and the New York City T-shirt the music legend made famous merely by wearing it while photojournalist Bob Gruen snapped his picture.  Both picture and shirt are displayed side-by-side at the new exhibit.

But it’s the sealed paper bag that’s getting all the attention. The bag, which was given to Ono by the medical examiner’s office shortly after Lennon’s death, contains the clothes he was wearing during the last seconds of his life. A placard containing a quote from Ono is placed next to the bag.

“John was king of the world. John who had everything any man could ever want came back to me in a brown paper bag in the end.”

Photo: AP Photo

Click here for the entire New York Post article.