11 Jul 2008

Sgt Pepper's drum skin stars at auction

8:49 pm on 11 July 2008

The bass drum skin used on the front cover of The Beatles' 1967 album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has sold for £541,250 at a rock auction in London.

Billed as the "world's most famous drum skin", it was the star lot of Christie's rock and pop memorabilia sale in London, eclipsing the other highlight, John Lennon's handwritten lyrics for hit song "Give Peace a Chance", which sold for £421,250.

Auction house Christie's had estimated that the hand-painted skin would sell for about £150,000.

The Lennon lyrics were sold by comedy writer and presenter Gail Renard, who was 16 when Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their famous "Bed-In" at a hotel in Montreal in 1969.

Ms Renard and a friend sneaked into the Queen Elizabeth Hotel where the recently married Lennon and Ono were holding a protest for peace, and became friendly with them.

According to Christie's, Lennon gave Ms Renard some mementos, including the lyrics, telling her: "One day they will be worth something."

Ms Renard, now 54, said the price fetched for the lyrics had left her speechless.

"I never in a million years thought it would make the estimate. I thought, 'Who would want to pay for that? There's a credit crunch'."

A pair of Lennon's trademark tinted prescription sunglasses, which he wore for the cover of the Apple Records single Mind Games, sold for £39,650.

The Rock and Pop Memorabilia sale at the London auction house raised more than £1.5 million in total, and included items ranging from Ella Fitzgerald to Madonna.

A rare recording of the Jimi Hendrix Experience performing at the Woburn Music Festival, at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, in July 1968 sold for £48,050. A 1966 Marshall amplifier used by Hendrix in concert between 1967 and 1969 went for £25,000, while a pair of his stripy flared trousers made £20,000.