conversation with John Sinclair upon release

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Posted: 2012 07-31


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Telephone conversation between John & Leni Sinclair and John Lennon & Yoko Ono, December 15, 1971.

John Sinclair was released from Jackson State Penitentiary December 13, 1971, three days after John Lennon and Yoko Ono played at the Free John Now Rally at Cristler Arena in Ann Arbor.

John Sinclair is an American poet from Detroit, one-time manager of the band MC5, and leader of the White Panther Party. Sinclair was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1969 after giving two joints of marijuana to an undercover narcotics officer.
This sentence inspired Abbie Hoffman to jump on the stage during The Who's performance at Woodstock to protest. It also sparked the landmark "John Sinclair Freedom Rally" at Ann Arbor's Crisler Arena in December 1971. The event brought together luminaries including pop musicians John Lennon (who recorded the song "John Sinclair" on his Some Time in New York City album), Yoko Ono, David Peel, Stevie Wonder, Phil Ochs and Pete Seeger, jazz artists Archie Shepp and Roswell Rudd, and speakers Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman, Rennie Davis, David Dellinger, Jerry Rubin, and Bobby Seale.
Three days after the rally, Sinclair was released from prison when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the state's marijuana statutes were unconstitutional. These events inspired the creation of Ann Arbor's annual pro-legalization Hash Bash rally, which continues to be held as of 2012, and contributed to the drive for decriminalization of cannabis under the Ann Arbor city charter.

This is the recording of the phone conversation between John Lennon & Yoko Ono and John Sinclair & Leni Sinclair upon Sinclair's release from prison.

From the John and Leni Sinclair Papers, 1957-2003 |
(Special thanks to AADL, Bentley Historical Library, Leni Sinclair and Gary Grimshaw.)

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