Strawberry Field marks John Lennon’s 80th birthday

published on 9 Oct 2020

The piano that John Lennon used to compose and record one of the greatest peace anthems of the 20th century has gone on display at The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field exhibition in Liverpool courtesy of the estate of the late George Michael.

The piano, which is on loan, has been put on show to mark what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday on 9 October 2020. All funds raised through visitors to the exhibition will be used to help change the lives of young people with learning difficulties.

Julia Baird with her brother's 'Imagine' piano
Julia Baird, sister of John Lennon, sits at her brother's piano at Strawberry Field.

George Michael had previously taken the piano on a global tour as a symbol of peace in the early 2000s, but it has never before been placed in a location so steeped in John Lennon history. One of the most cherished musical instruments of all time, archive film footage from 1971 shows a relaxed Lennon at the piano composing ‘Imagine' before he turns to his keyboard player to remark: “That’s the one I like best.” 

George Michael, a huge fan of The Beatles and John Lennon, also composed on and played the piano which can be heard on the title song of his 'Patience' album. 

Strawberry Field has been a place of refuge and peace for all those who, like John, sought sanctuary beyond its beautiful red gates.
Major Kathy Versfeld, Mission Director for Strawberry Field

Major Kathy Versfeld, Mission Director for Strawberry Field, said: “Since The Salvation Army first acquired the property in 1934, Strawberry Field has been a place of refuge and peace for all those who, like John, sought sanctuary beyond its beautiful red gates. 

“We are absolutely delighted to be able to place on display in our exhibition this wonderful ‘instrument of peace’, sharing as we do with its owners an enduring passion for peace-making and the transformation of communities and individual lives. We are grateful for this generous loan and know that it will make a huge difference to the work that we are able to do within our visitor centre, not just with our Steps to Work trainees but also as we offer a place of inspiration and hope to all visitors through the gates.”

Julia Baird, sister of John Lennon, stands by the famous red gates
Julia Baird, sister of John Lennon, stands by the famous red gates of Strawberry Field.

In 2019, Strawberry Field began providing sustainable employment opportunities for young people with learning difficulties. The new hub offers training, skills and valuable work placements, so as to ensure real employment prospects. Both young people and their families are offered support, time to socialise, develop aspirations, help to break down barriers and achieve their full potential.

A spokesperson for the estate of the late George Michael said: “The George Michael Estate is proud to be associated with Strawberry Field and the work that The Salvation Army does at the centre to help young adults with learning difficulties acquire the skills and experience they so badly need to get employment work which is even more vital today than when the centre first opened.”

Julia Baird with her brother's John Lennon, piano

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