The Loop

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The Night John Lennon Saw a UFO

This summer marks the 40th anniversary of John Lennon's claim to have spotted a UFO over Manhattan.

Lennon noted the UFO incident in the liner notes for his 1974 album Wall and Bridges: “On the 23rd Aug. 1974 at 9 o’clock I saw a UFO J.L.”

A sketch Lennon did of the UFO sighting on a spare album sleeve was recently auctioned off by CooperOwen Auctions of London. Originally anticipated to sell for between $1600 and $2500, the Lennon UFO sketch ended up going for a $16,600.

Lennon gave the album sleeve sketch to Jesse Ed David, who provided lead guitar for Lennon’s album Wall and Bridges. 

The sighting took place during John Lennon’s self-described “Lost Weekend,” a period from 1973 through 1975 when Lennon was separated from wife Yoko Ono, while he was living with then-girlfriend May Pang in a 52nd Street apartment in New York. 

Lennon described the UFO sighting on that hot summer night:

Lo and behold, there was this thing just hovering about 100 yards away. I saw it so close…I could’ve hit it with a brick if I’d thrown a stone at it.

I couldn’t see the colors because it was dusk, a good clear summer night, and around the bottom of it were just ordinary-looking electric light bulbs, blinking off and on alternatively, like on a billboard, and on the top of it was a red light.

And the thing I noticed was that there was no noise… so I realized it’s not a helicopter, then it must be a balloon… [but it was] maneuvering too well to be a balloon. So I just watched it… for about five or 10 minutes [and] it went off down the East River.