John Lennon and Yoko Ono donate a bag of their hair to Michael X

In one of their more peculiar publicity stunts, John Lennon and Yoko Ono exchanged a bag of their shorn hair for a pair of Muhammad Ali’s bloodstained boxing shorts on this day.

The exchange happened on the rooftop of a single-storey workshop at the back of The Black Centre, situated at 95-99 Holloway Road, London. The centre was the headquarters of a number of committees and movements, headed by activist Michael X, born Michael de Freitas in Trinidad in 1933, and also known as Michael Abdul Malik and Abdul Malik.

Lennon and Ono had had their hair shorn in Denmark on 20 January 1970. Lennon had hoped that the haircuts would allow them to travel incognito for a time, but the news leaked within days.

Interviewed by journalists on the rooftop, the couple announced that the boxing shorts would be auctioned to raise money for their peace campaigning, although there is no evidence to suggest this ever happened. Similarly, the hair was to be auctioned to raise money for The Black Centre.

The Black House closed in autumn 1970. It later burnt down in mysterious circumstances. Michael X was convicted of murder in 1972, and was hanged in Trinidad three years later.

Last updated: 12 July 2022
Recording, mixing: Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing by Ringo Starr
Recording: Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing by Ringo Starr
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