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Lyrics of Beatles hit 'A Day in the Life' auctioned off

By Chris Kokenes, CNN
John Lennon's autographed lyrics for the hit Beatles song "A Day in the Life" sold for $1.2 million at an auction.
John Lennon's autographed lyrics for the hit Beatles song "A Day in the Life" sold for $1.2 million at an auction.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Double-sided sheet of paper sells for $1,202,500
  • Final track on 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'
  • Believed composed on the morning and afternoon of January 17, 1967
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New York (CNN) -- John Lennon's autographed lyrics for "A Day in the Life" -- one of the top tunes from an iconic album -- went for more than a song Friday when it was sold at Sotheby's Auction house in New York for $1,202,500.

The price paid by a private American collector is close to the sale price in 2005 when Lennon's lyrics for "All you need is Love" sold for over $1.2 million.

A total of three bidders weighed in for the manuscript, taking over six minutes until the bidding ended.

The double-sided single sheet of paper written in Lennon's hand includes cross-outs and corrections, and chronicles the evolution of one of the most famous musical masterpieces by the Beatles.

"A Day in the Life" was the final track of the Beatles' legendary 1967 album, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." The album spent 27 weeks at the top of the British charts and 15 weeks at number one on the American Billboard 200.

The album is considered a turning point in the career of the Beatles, transforming them from pop icons to among the 20th century's leading artists.

Rolling Stone magazine has ranked "A Day in the Life" as number 26 in its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Rolling Stone Assistant Editor Andy Greene thinks the song and the album deserve higher praise, considering it was the last album the Beatles collectively worked on together.

"That album was the beginning of the Album Era," said Greene. "It was the Big Bang of albums. This was the first concept album. All the songs go together to tell a story and it's inspired every musician."

The lyrics, once owned by Mal Evans, the Beatles' road manager, exceeded Sotheby's estimates of $500,000 to $700,000. The lyrics were sold by an unidentified collector, an American, who purchased the sheet in 1992 at Sotheby's for £48,000, or $93,000.

The auction house said the seller plans to use the proceeds to buy a vineyard.

The first side of the lyrics -- which are believed to have been composed on the morning and afternoon of January 17, 1967 -- features a rough draft written in script with a black felt marker and blue ballpoint pen, with a few annotations in red ink. The other side of the page, whose ink is also bright and vibrant, is written in block letters, according to Sotheby's spokesman Dan Abernethy.

Both versions begin with the same familiar line: "I read the news today, oh boy."

Rolling Stone's Greene didn't seem fazed by the expected sale price for the lyrics. "I can see why it's worth that," he said. "Beatles stuff always sells well. It is the crown jewel of the Beatles collection."