A long-lost tape has revealed how John Lennon finally made peace with his estranged father - thanks to a gift from beyond the grave.

The pair had been feuding after Freddie Lennon walked out on five-year-old John and his mother Julia - before reappearing at the height of Beatlemania.

The recently-unearthed recording reveals in his own words how John eventually forgave his father, who died in Brighton on April 1, 1976.

The recording was made by John's wife Yoko Ono's first husband Tony Cox during a phone call between him and John a year and a half after Freddie's death.

The tape has remained unheard for 28 years but has now been put up for auction.

It includes John describing how his father bequeathed him a manuscript of Freddie's life story.

John says: "You know all he wanted was for me to hear his side of the story, which I hadn't heard.

"Why he wasn't there, etc, etc. And there's this sort of incredible manuscript of every detail of his life, you know? I'll let you read it one day. It's really a wild adventure.

"He was a sailor, you know, and he was in trouble all around the world.

"He was one of those people who always just managed not to get in too deep a trouble, but in trouble, you know.

"But at the end of every chapter he's written like a little homily, sort of a little dig at me. He's still sort of competing with me, it's amazing.

"There's a little put-down at the end of every chapter, which I didn't mind. We really didn't have a relationship.

"There's all these adventures. He was in prison in Africa during the war and running around New York and boxing in Bali, going to bars, this incredible trip.

"Then he died and that was it. He said, 'Read the book, read the book, read the book.' I said, 'Okay, I'll read it.' And then he died and left me this book, which has filled a big hole in my life.

"I said, 'Oh, that's why he couldn't make it.' You know. And now I can understand it a little bit. It's quite a story and there's more to it. I'm barely touching on all of it."

Freddie had disappeared from his son's life for 17 years but always claimed it was Julia who had thrown him out. John was angered by his father's apparent attempts to cash in on The Beatles' fame and fortune.

Their last face-to-face meeting was at John's Tittenhurst Park mansion in Berkshire in 1970, which ended with John shouting: "Get out of my life, get off my back."

The same year he released the song Mother, which includes the lyrics: "Father, you left me, but I never left you. I needed you, but you didn't need me.

"So I just got to tell you, goodbye, goodbye ... Mama don't go, daddy come home."

Freddie's second wife, Pauline, still lives in Brighton, where the pair had moved after marrying in 1968.

She was an 18-year-old Exeter University student when she met 54-year-old Freddie in 1966.

He introduced her to his famous son the following year and she became nanny to Julian, John's son by his first wife Cynthia.

The couple moved to a flat in Bourne Court in London Road, Patcham, before relocating to Ladies Mile Road in November 1969. They remained there until Freddie died of cancer in Brighton General Hospital seven years later.

Mother-of-two Pauline shuns publicity but did reveal 14 years ago how Freddie had taken a call on his deathbed from John, apologising for his past behaviour.

The newly-discovered tape was of the first conversation in two years between John and Cox. It is thought he was trying to achieve a reconciliation with Cox so Yoko could regain contact with their daughter Kyoko, who was in Cox's custody.

During the nine-minute chat, John talks about taking Japanese lessons and compares notes on James Clavell's novel Shogun.

Cox, who now lives in California, later sold the tape to Chris Lopez.

The recording is being auctioned on www.mastronet.com, with a starting price of $5,000.