Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – 50 Acetates for 50 Years

In the lead up to Christmas what a fantastic idea from the John Lennon Estate to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of the Plastic Ono Band song, ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’.

They have sent selected record stores and charities across the UK a very, very limited edition 12″ single of the song in the form of an acetate, each individually cut at Abbey Road Studios.

Only 50 of these have been produced – so they are instant rarities and valuable collectors items. The outer sleeve is stamped with the signature of Yoko Ono, and each recipient received a letter signed by Sean Ono Lennon outlining the Estate’s request that they use the disc (in which ever way they please) to help raise much needed funds for charity. Brilliant!

The entire idea is fully outlined on the John Lennon official site.

That got us curious to see how many of the 50 individually numbered acetates we could track down in the wild. We’ve pulled together these images of the discs – and sometimes their new owners who are charged with on-selling them for charity. Each recipient is doing this in their own way – so check out their details for how you could possibly secure one of these 50 rare acetates for yourself. You’ll be helping a good cause along the way!

03/50 Assai RecordsDundee, Scotland. They have decided to run an auction with bids lodged via email. Details here.

05/50 Dig VinylLiverpool:

07/50 Five Rise RecordsBingley in Yorkshire. They’ve chosen the eBay option to raise funds for charity. See their eBay auction here.

10/50 Jacaranda RecordsLiverpool. They have taken the online raffle route.

11/50 Kelly’s RecordsCardiff, Wales:

12/50 Monorail MusicGlasgow, Scotland: They are holding an eBay auction.

13/50 The Musical Box RecordsLiverpool:

15/50 Probe RecordsLiverpool:

16/50 Resident Music – in Brighton, UK. They’re running a raffle where every purchase at their store gets an entry. Money raised goes to the Gig Buddies charity.

18/50 RPM MusicNewcastle upon Tyne:

20/50 Skeleton RecordsLiverpool. They’re auctioning their acetate on Boxing Day. Watch this space for more details.

21/50 Spillers RecordsCardiff, Wales. Spillers have given their record to Oasis, a charity doing good work with refugees and asylum seekers in Cardiff. They in turn are holding a raffle by donation. i.e. you make a donation and go in the draw to win! Details here.

22/50 Spinning DiscsSheffield:

24/50 Kingbee RecordsManchester:

25/50 Vinyl RevivalManchester:

26/50 The Vinyl WhistleHeadingly – Leeds (These guys have decided to sell raffle tickets. At £2 quid each you can buy as many as you like and go in the draw to win!):

27/50 Wax and Beans RecordsBury (near Manchester):

29/50 Attitude is Everything – a UK charity based in London working on giving deaf and disabled people better access to live music.

31/50 Collage Arts is in London. It works in the community and offers artist studios, creative enterprise training, young people’s arts programmes, live music and events. They joined in a group of seven other recipient charities and used Crowdfunder to raise £13,720!

32/50 went to Earth Percent, a charity set up in part by Brian Eno to raise awareness of climate change. Watch their Twitter account for plans on how they’ll use the gift to raise funds.

33/50 Glasgowbury – Northern Ireland’s emerging music festival, established from a need to support and develop homegrown artists. They’re HQ is located in Draperstown and they’re taking bids via email.

34/50 This acetate went to Help Musicians UK, an independent charity that provides support and opportunity for professional musicians of all genres and career stages. They also joined in a group of seven other recipient charities and used Crowdfunder to raise £13,720!

?/50 Sister Ray RecordsSoho, London (Not sure of what number these guys got, but they decided to hold an auction across their various social media sites – for example Instagram). It raised £2,300. Not bad!

35/50 Hen Hoose – Scottish female and non binary songwriters and music producers. (They have also posted a lovely video unboxing on Twitter). Their auction via the Omega Auction house raised £4,320!

37/50 Karousel Music CIC – This is a London-based music industry hub promoting collaboration amongst artists, songwriters, musicians and industry. See their ticket raffle here.

39/50 Moving On MusicLocated in Belfast, this is an independent, not-for-profit and registered charity. It provides an eclectic mix of music and education services to the entire community in Northern Ireland. See their eBay auction here.

40/50 Music BrothScotland’s musical instrument and equipment library. Social enterprise and charity improving access to music making for all:

41/50 The Music Venue Trust is a London-based registered charity which acts to protect, secure and improve grassroots music venues. They have uploaded a Facebook unboxing and appear to be totally surprised by what they find in the package! See their ticket raffle here.

42/50 Music Place North-West is a music therapy charity from Liverpool’s Merseyside and they are auctioning their acetate through Bonhams. It will be auctioned in the new year so watch their Twitter account for details.

45/50 Phoenix Arts Club is also located in London and they too have done a Facebook video unboxing in which they are absolutely bowled over by the generosity of Sean and Yoko in choosing them. Watch it. It’s great!

46/50 SWIM stands for Scottish Women In Music. It is a collection of music creators and industry professionals who identify as women working in all music industries. It’s committed to achieving a level playing field for women, pushing for gender equality. They’ve decided on an eBay auction for their acetate.

47/50 The Brain Charity is based in Liverpool and does amazing work helping those affected by neurological conditions to live longer, healthier, happier lives. They also decided to auction their ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ acetate disc on eBay – and it sold for £4,900. Wonderful effort!

48/50 The Glad Foundation is a charity in Glasgow. It provides a wide range of free and affordable music workshops for people of all ages and abilities:

?/50 The Coda Club in London seems to be associated with the Phoenix Arts Club (see 45/50 above) because their acetate disc is mentioned and seen still sealed in the Phoenix Arts Club Facebook video. The Coda Club is a meeting and support network for retirement-aged classical/jazz/session musicians to reconnect and meet and combat loneliness.

We reckon this is a fantastic initiative by Yoko Ono, Sean Ono Lennon and the John Lennon Estate to do some good in the world this holiday season. In it’s 50th anniversary year good on them for having the vision to use ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ in this creative way.

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‘Double Fantasy – John & Yoko’ Exhibition – Tokyo

There’s a terrific exhibition on at the moment in Tokyo called Double Fantasy – John & Yoko:There are a couple of interesting collectors items that you can purchase from this exhibition. The first is the official exhibition catalogue – a thick book that serves as a comprehensive overview of everything on display:

It’s in Japanese and English, and packed with a wealth of great photos detailing all the displays. It’s available through the gift shop at the exhibition venue (Tokyo’s Sony Music Roppongi Museum), from Amazon Japan, or The Blue Sheep Shop.

We also liked the look of these two Limited Edition, 10-inch clear vinyl records which are only available through the Double Fantasy – John & Yoko museum store:

These contain interviews with John and Yoko. The first is ‘John Lennon and Yoko Ono – Special Interview, January 25, 1971 at the Imperial (Teikoko) Hotel’.

The second is ‘John Lennon and Yoko Ono – Special Interview, September 2, 1971 New York’. They are both on the same label as Ono’s album re-issues for the Secretly Canadian/Chimera label in the US, and the Sony Records International label in Japan – featuring a cut grapefruit instead of an apple.

There’s also this Limited Edition Yoko Ono single on white vinyl, released on November 25. Again this appears to be exclusive to the exhibition store:

Double Fantasy – John & Yoko is a large-scale exhibit which was first mounted in John Lennon’s hometown of Liverpool (at the Liverpool Museum in England) between May, 2018 and November, 2019.

In 2020 that very same exhibition has come to Yoko Ono’s hometown, Tokyo.

There are many connections for the couple with Japan. John, Yoko, and Sean Ono Lennon visited the country every year between 1977 and 1979 and enjoyed numerous family trips to various places as John’s green card (granted to him in 1976) made it possible for them to once again travel outside the United States.

Japan’s NHK TV last week ran a story about the exhibition. It included this insightful interview with Sean who shared his memories of visiting Japan, about growing up as the son of two of the most famous people in the world, and the role his parents played in promoting peace – it’s well worth a look.

Yoko was deeply involved in the curation of Double Fantasy – John & Yoko and it contains a wealth of rare original historic documents, photographs, films, objects, artworks and personal items from key moments in the lives of the two. It apparently takes more than two hours to view everything and get a thorough overview of what is on offer:   One of the treasures is John’s hand-made, teenage satiric magazine (from c.1957) containing his cartoons and drawings called The Daily Howl:

There’s also an original copy of Yoko’s book Grapefruit which she gave to John as a gift. First published in 1964, Grapefruit represents a seminal piece of conceptual art that had a direct influence on the lyrics and concepts behind the song ‘Imagine’:

Also on display are numerous handwritten lyrics by Lennon including ‘Imagine’, ‘In My Life’, ‘Give Peace a Chance’, ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’, and ‘Woman’.

There’s also one of the famous works that Yoko showed at her Unfinished Paintings and Objects exhibition at the Indica Gallery in London in 1966. It’s where John first encountered her art up close:Of course there’s also the previously mentioned Museum Shop offering a wide variety of other merchandise…..

Double Fantasy – John & Yoko opened at Tokyo’s Sony Music Roppongi Museum on October 9, the 80th anniversary of John Lennon’s birth.

It runs until January 11, 2021, and has marked the 40th anniversary of his death by setting up a place for visitors to remember John by leaving messages and floral tributes.