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Credit: Unidentified/Badosa


The letter Bob Dylan sent in defence of John Lennon and Yoko Ono


We are digging into the Far Out vault to look back at the huge importance John Lennon and Yoko Ono held for one Bob Dylan. Lennon may well have been in the biggest band of all time but his period with The Beatles didn’t do much to curtail FBI interest in the singer once he became extremely vocal about the Vietnam War and continued to purvey a reem of socialist ideals.

That and several other things would soon see John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who had made their home in New York, soon find themselves on the deportation list after Richard Nixon decided enough was enough and tried to have the duo escorted from the country. Naturally, there was a huge uproar and one man would stand by the Beatle, singer-songwriter and all-round lyrical genius, Bob Dylan. Below, we are taking a look back at the letter Dylan wrote in defence of the pair.

The year was 1972 and Lennon had suddenly become the focal point of a major federal investigation. Citing a 1968 conviction of cannabis possession, something many people believe to be phoney, the Richard Nixon administration began deportation proceedings on John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was a thinly veiled attempt to remove a big mouth from the country and everybody knew it.

Lennon had begun to find further notoriety outside of the studio and his preferred realm of music as he and Ono began to demonstrate their ideals for world peace with their iconic bed-ins for Peace. It was this, plus an escalation of Lennon’s condemnation of the Vietnam war, which put Lennon, who had already ruffled feathers with his ‘bigger than Jesus’ comments a few years prior, firmly in the government’s crosshairs.

Quickly enough, a huge campaign began and gathered pace to try and quash the attempt to deport the Beatle and his partner. The campaign not only relied on Lennon’s growing fanbase to nudge and shove their representative into action but even roped in some famous names too. The most famous, however, has to be Bob Dylan.

Dylan and Lennon had been good friends since the early days of The Beatles and now with John’s liberties being wrongfully mishandled, Dylan stepped in and contributed his own handwritten letter to the pile of pleas that landed on the doorstep of the U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. It was a piece of literature that, while it may not be Dylan’s finest, is a showing of his incredible attachment to the singer and his prominence in the musical world.

It reads:

“JUSTICE for John & Yoko!

“John and Yoko add a great voice and drive to this country’s so called ART INSTITUTION / They inspire and transcend and stimulate and by doing so, only can help others to see pure light and in doing that, put an end to this mild dull taste of petty commercialism which is being passed off as Artist Art by the overpowering mass-media. Hurray for John & Yoko. Let them stay and live here and breathe. The country’s got plenty of room and space. Let John and Yoko stay.

“Bob Dylan.”

Below you can see a copy of the handwritten letter as preserved by Jon Wiener in Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files.