Long-lost John Lennon interviews from Winnipeg-born journalist go up for public sale

Growing up, Leo Zeilig had at all times recognized the story of how his dad as soon as snagged a collection of interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono within the late Sixties.

But it wasn’t till not too long ago, while caught at residence throughout pandemic lockdowns final yr, that his sister stumbled throughout a box tucked away in her Los Angeles basement and they lastly found what had grow to be of these recordings from their late father, Winnipeg-born freelance journalist Ken Zeilig.

Inside the box have been 12 reel-to-reel tapes holding three interviews — 91 minutes — of unaired audio of the long-lasting couple.

“They were the tapes of the interview of legend,” Leo recounted from London.

“This incredible archive, this treasure trove of interviews, was just gathering dust.”

The household was in a position to make digital copies of the recordings to carry on to for sentimental causes, Leo mentioned.

But the tapes themselves are actually set to go to public sale this week, where they’re expected to fetch between $34,000 and nearly $53,000 CAD, U.Ok.-based public sale home Omega Auctions says on its web site.

Martin Zeilig holds up images of his late brother, Ken Zeilig, whose long-lost interview tapes of John Lennon and Yoko Ono are going up for public sale this week. (Karen Pauls/CBC)

“This publicity that we’re getting for the tapes feels like a real honouring of my father and his work — his extraordinary work and legacy,” Leo mentioned.

Ken’s youthful brother, Martin Zeilig, mentioned he thinks his brother could be relieved to know that somebody lastly found his tapes. 

“My hunch is that he would say, ‘Finally. Finally, these tapes are going to be heard,'” Martin mentioned in an interview in Winnipeg.

From Winnipeg to the Wedding Album

Martin mentioned his brother was “fiercely proud” of his roots within the Manitoba metropolis, where he grew up within the North End and have become a trainer earlier than transferring to London and learning journalism and filmmaking.

Ken’s work took him throughout Canada and the world over a span of a number of many years, together with jobs at CBC, Martin mentioned. He died of most cancers in Winnipeg in 1990.

Martin mentioned he is glad the unaired tapes are lastly going to be shared, and that people will know “it was a journalist who was originally from Winnipeg who did these amazing interviews.”

One of the reel-to-reel tapes up for public sale is pictured. (Omega Auctions)

Leo mentioned attending to take heed to the tapes greater than 30 years after his father’s dying was surreal.

In one of many interviews, he mentioned, his father advised the couple how a lot their Wedding Album, which had simply come out, meant to him and his spouse on the time — Leo’s mom.

“There’s this wonderful meeting of the three of them at that point in the interview when they’re all expressing their feelings about love and sharing a life of being together,” he mentioned.

“And, of course, to hear it about your parents in an interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono is extraordinary.”

A ‘tenacious’ journalist

Ken’s household says they don’t seem to be certain why just a few minutes of audio from the tapes was ever aired anyplace. 

They additionally do not know precisely how the journalist was in a position to lock down not only one, however three interviews with the well-known duo at their residence in 1969 and 1970 — proper earlier than The Beatles broke up.

But figuring out Ken, they don’t seem to be shocked, both.

“My father was exceptionally tenacious, so if he wanted an interview, [he’d] get it. And he would use all his contacts to get it,” Leo mentioned.

Musician John Lennon and artist Yoko Ono carry out of their first public look because the Plastic Ono Band at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium in September 1969. (The Associated Press)

It’s how Martin remembers his brother, too.

“He had those qualities to make people want to talk to him. He was charming. He was very forceful, but not in a sort of hostile way. And he was interested. He was very interested in people,” Martin mentioned.

“He had this capacity to draw things out of people that they might not otherwise say to anyone else.”

More auctions potential

Ken’s household says they’re to see who goes residence with the tapes after they’re auctioned off.

And with the cash from the approaching sale, Leo mentioned he hopes they will be capable of digitize and public sale off the originals of extra of his father’s “astonishing” again catalogue of not too long ago found interviews.

“Every major cultural, political figure of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, my father interviewed,” he mentioned.

“It’s incredibly rich, from Alfred Hitchcock to Audrey Hepburn.”

Ken Zeilig’s interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono will be auctioned on Tuesday.

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