John Lennon at 80: George Michael-owned Imagine piano put on display

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image copyrightBBC/James Jackman
image captionThe piano was used by John Lennon to compose Imagine and by George Michael to write Patience

The "iconic" piano which John Lennon used to write the song Imagine is to go on display to mark his 80th birthday.

The piano, which singer George Michael bought in 2000, will be at Liverpool's Strawberry Field from Friday.

The site was chosen due to its links to The Beatles's song Strawberry Fields Forever and Lennon's childhood home in nearby Menlove Avenue.

A spokesman for George Michael's estate said it was hoped it would be "a source of hope and inspiration" to visitors.

image copyrightAnt Clausen
image captionLennon's sister Julia Baird said bringing the piano to Strawberry Field was "fitting"

Lennon, who was killed by gunman Mark Chapman in December 1980, bought the piano in December 1970 and had it delivered to studios at his home in Tittenhurst Park, Berkshire.

He composed and recorded Imagine on it the following year, and was filmed playing the song on it for the first time to wife Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono band.

The song went on to become the best-selling single of his solo career

George Michael, who died on Christmas Day in 2016, bought the instrument for £1.45m at auction in 2000 and went on to compose his own music using it, including the title track of his 2004 album Patience.

At the time of the purchase, he declared that it was his intention to eventually let it be enjoyed by the people of Liverpool, as he said it was "not the type of thing that should be in storage somewhere or being protected, it should be seen by people".

The spokesman for his estate said the "loan of the iconic piano" to Strawberry Field was "just the type of association that George would have wanted for this unique piece".

"We know that the piano will be a source of hope and inspiration to all who come to see it," he added.

image copyrightStrawberry Field
image captionAbout 60,000 music fans visit the Strawberry Field gates every year

Strawberry Field, which was once a children's home, opened as a tourist attraction and youth centre in September 2019.

Lennon's sister Julia Baird, the honorary president of the site, said it was "fitting" the Steinway Model Z would join the centre's permanent Beatles exhibition.

"Strawberry Field played a pivotal role in the John's childhood as one of the first places that sparked his young imagination whilst living on Menlove Avenue," she said.

She added that bringing his piano to the site to mark his 80th birthday was a "wonderful gesture" which would "bring joy to the hundreds of thousands of people who visit Liverpool every year to get closer to the history of The Beatles and John's legacy".

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