"In Search of Lennon’s Lost Letter to Oral Roberts"
In the early 1970s, Oral Roberts’ evangelical TV program was at a peak, with an estimated 37 million viewers. After each show, the ministry commonly received upwards of 500,000 letters. One of those letters in particular has since caught the world’s attention.
On Friday, January 26, 1973, Roberts stood behind the podium at the Mabee Center and held up a sheet of paper to an audience comprised of his university students and faculty. Nobody could have expected the claim Roberts was about to make.
“I hold in my hand probably one of the most unique letters or documents that I’ve ever shared with anybody in the world,” Roberts said. “It happens to be from one of the Beatles, John Lennon, who was probably the most gifted song writer of the group. And he wrote it by hand.”
. . .
Without the original letter, it’s impossible to verify whether it was actually Lennon who wrote it. When Roberts read the letter at the chapel, he was reading a typed version of the letter, and when he read it out loud, he frequently interrupted the letter and altered the words. The most accurate record of the letter is Roberts’ audiotaped sermon, but representatives from ORU are oddly skittish about allowing access to the audiotape; their public relations director ignored repeated requests for permission to hear the tape.
While we may never know for certain if Lennon actually penned the letter, there’s an interesting allusion Lennon left for us to consider–and we have audio of John Lennon singing it.
On November 14, 1980, less than a month from his murder, Lennon recorded a song he had written to Yoko called, “You Saved My Soul.” It exists only as a rough demo of the very last recording he ever sang on, passed around as a bootleg recording. The lyrics read:
When I was lonely and scared, I nearly fell for a TV preacher in a hotel room in Tokyo. Remember the time I went to jump right out the apartment window on the west side of town of old New York. You saved me from that suicide and…I wanna thank you, thank you, thank you for saving my soul with your true love.