He was one of the biggest rock stars in the world and she was just a little 5-year-old girl as they sat on the floor in 1969, singing and telling stories with a tape recorder running.
Sounds like just a normal family activity, except the man was Beatle John Lennon and the little girl was the stepdaughter he barely knew, Kyoko Cox.
In 1969 fans worried the Beatles would break up. But instead of attending the last Beatles recording session, Lennon was in Denmark with his second wife Yoko Ono.
They were there to visit Ono’s ex-husband Tony Cox, an avant-garde artist. Cox had introduced Lennon and Ono at one of Ono’s art exhibits. “Cox told me that was the worst mistake of his life,” Chris Lopez, who now owns the tapes, said.
And he was right. Ono and Lennon fell in love. She divorced Cox and a bitter custody battle for Kyoko followed.
So it must have been with some trepidation that Lennon and Ono showed up unexpectedly at Cox’s farm in Denmark.
During the next several weeks, Lennon got to know his stepdaughter and made six audio tapes of conversations between them. Lennon sings and plays the guitar and even refers to Ono as the “queen.”
And Cox, knowing those tapes would be of value, kept them until 1995 when he sold them to Lopez who lives in Denver, saying the price should not be disclosed.
“I was selling my mom’s car and had an ad in the newspaper,” Chris Lopez said, explaining how the two met.
Cox was living in Denver at the time, working on a film project. The two became friends and when Cox, who needed money, asked Lopez if he were interested in buying the tapes, he jumped at the chance.
“I knew it was big,” Lopez said.
Six tapes were made and Lopez has sold four of them and is now putting the final two – that run about 45 minutes in all – up for sale with MastroNet Inc., which auctions high value collectibles, including the T206 Honus Wagner baseball card for $1.2 million.
He said some of the four tapes he sold fetched six figures but he declined to give exact prices or say what he paid originally for them.
Lopez said he has not listened often to the audio tapes. “There’s an eerie feeling – a voice from the grave,” Lopez said. Lennon was shot to death by a deranged fan in New York City in December 1980.
On the tapes Kyoko, now a grown woman who works as a teacher in the Denver area, according to Lopez, tells her own stories.
Cox, who worried about drug use in the Lennon home, fled with the girl. Yoko Ono did not hear from her daughter for 15 years.
“A number of years ago Yoko and her daughter were reunited,” Ono’s spokesman Elliot Mintz said.