IN HIS LIFE: ★★★★
Astrid Kirchherr – A Retrospective: Victoria Gallery & Museum, Ashton Street, off Brownlow Hill, until the end of January 2011. 0151-794 2348 White Feather: Beatles Story, ● Pier Head, until December 31. 0151-709 1963.
Liverpool ONE Loves Lennon – A Musical Tribute: Street entertainers throughout Liverpool ONE, until October 15. 0151-232 3100. Liverpool ONE Loves Lennon ● – An Art Exhibition: Liverpool ONE Information Centre, 5 Wall Street, until October 31. 0151-232 3100.
Bed-In at the Bluecoat: Bluecoat art centre, School Lane, until December 9. 0151-702 5324. Lennon by Bob Eaton: Royal ● Court theatre, Roe Street, October 15-November 13. 0870 787 1240.
Lennon by Len Ehlen: Liverpool Academy of Arts, Seel Street, October 26-November 5. 0151-709 0735. Exhibition of art by Edward ● Lyons: Aruma, Mount Pleasant, daily. 0151-708 6604.
Lennon image beamed on to Albert Dock: Until October 23, after dark. John Lennon International ● Poetry Competition judged by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy:
Performance Poetry Slam Final, November 6. www.beatlesstory.com or 0151-709 1963.
The Lennon Lectures: Quarry Men Rod Davis and Colin Hanton, Cavern Club, November 2. Tickets £5 from www.cavernclub.org or 0151-236 9091. The Lennon Lectures: Beatles’ ● road manager Tony Bramwell, Cavern Club, November 9. Tickets
£5 from www.cavernclub.org or 0151-236 9091.
The Lennon Lectures: Sister Julia Baird and cousin Stanley Parkes, St George's Hall, November 28, tickets £5 from www.cavernclub.org or 0151-236 9091. The Lennon Lectures: ● American journalist Larry Kane, Hard Days Night Hotel,
November 30, tickets £5 from www.cavernclub.org or 0151-236 9091.
Lennon Remembered: Concert at ECHO arena, December 9. Tickets from ECHO ticketline on 0844 800 3680. Fabcabs of Liverpool Beatles ● Heritage Tours - The John Lennon Special: Until December 9. www.fabcabsofliverpool.com or 0151-909 1964.
Fab4 ‘John Lennon’ Taxi Tour: Until December 9. www.fabfourtaxitours.com or 0151-601 2111.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
John’s music will live forever
IVERPOOL has produced more than its fair share of world-leading writers, artists, sportsmen, politicians, comedians and musicians over the years. But there are fewer names bigger than that of John Winston Lennon. The former Beatle would have marked his 70th birthday last weekend had it not been for Mark David Chapman who gunned him down on his doorstep in New York City 30 years ago this December. Liverpool is marking the two landmark anniversaries with a tribute season celebrating what John Lennon was all about - poetry, art, wit and of course, music. Events kicked off last weekend with concerts at the Cavern, the Picket and the Philharmonic Hall among others, and with the unveiling of the Peace and Harmony monument at Chavasse Park. There were also Lennon-themed tours while exhibitions continue to run at the Beatles Story (White Feather) and Victoria Gallery and Museum (Astrid Kirchherr - a Retrospective. Read more on p6 of this supplement). But there’s still plenty to come with talks by people who were close ICONIC: Albert Dock illuminated with an image of John Lennon by Bill Zygmant to mark his 70th birthday to the man himself, including of Liverpool’s most iconic buildings split,” says managing director Jerry arena organised by Cavern City members of his first band as well as Goldman. in celebration of the life of John Tours and CMP Entertainment, and his half-sister Julia and cousin “Combine this with what would featuring among others the Quarry Lennon. Stan. have been John Lennon's 70th “His legacy and his music Men, Tony Sheridan, Badfinger’s Meanwhile as darkness falls birthday and the 30th anniversary of Joey Molland and Mark McGann. continue live on in the city and this between now and October 23, his death and you can see why we is a fitting tribute - I’m sure he Co-event organiser and Cavern Lennon’s face will be projected on wanted to host a fitting tribute. Club owner Bill Heckle says: to the side of the Albert Dock facing would have loved it.” “The richness and diversity of the The Beatles Story is “Anyone who loves the music of John the city he loved. John Lennon Tribute Season at the heart of the Lennon and the Beatles shouldn’t The image was taken Words by represents the impact his life had on miss this night. You’ll be witnessing commemorations. in the 1960s by music and culture, the city of history with contributions from “2010 is such a big photographer Bill Catherine Jones Liverpool and fans all over the year for Beatles fans those who helped John create it.” Zygmant, who says: “It’s Designed by world.” as it is 50 years since Meanwhile don’t forget to vote for incredible to see my Richard Irvine The season ends on December 9 your favourite John Lennon song at the band formed and work projected onto one with a major concert at the ECHO 40 years since they www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/lennon
The Beatles Story and Mersey Ferries Joint £5 October Offer The Beatles Story and Mersey Ferries are delighted to offer all readers a fantastic opportunity to experience part of the ‘Big Mersey Adventure’ for a one-off fee of just £5. From Saturday 16th until Friday 22nd October 2010 you can take advantage of this amazing offer and visit The Beatles Story, Pier Head which includes “White Feather – The Spirit of Lennon” Exhibition, “The Beatles Hidden Gallery” Exhibition and The FAB4D Experience, as well as the world famous Mersey Ferries, as you take in the city’s fascinating history aboard the River Explorer Cruise, all for just £5. Not only that, for every paying adult, one child can also come along for FREE! Terms & Conditions:
1.The offer: One adult (18 years and over) and one child (15 years and under) to receive admission to The Beatles Story Pier Head* and the Mersey Ferries River Explorer Cruise upon payment of £5. 2.To claim this offer you must present this voucher at the Admissions desk in The Beatles Story, Pier Head. Upon payment of £5 you will receive an authorisation voucher for the River Explorer Cruise to be presented at the Mersey Ferries ticket desk. 3.This offer is valid from 9am on Saturday 16th October 2010 until 5pm on Friday 22nd October 2010. Please check the last admission time for The Beatles Story and last departure time for the River Explorer Cruise on the day of your visit. 4.This offer is only valid upon presentation of this voucher. Photocopies will not be accepted. This offer may not be used in conjunction with any other offer. 5.This voucher can not be exchanged for a cash alternative and must not be offered for sale in any way. 6.Management reserves the right to withdraw this offer at any time. ● This offer does not allow admission to The Beatles Story, Albert Dock. A full combination ticket may be purchased separately if required. This voucher can not be used in part-payment for a full combination ticket.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Tribute to John
Let’s celebrate the life of John
DESIGNER: American artist Lauren Voiers who created the monument
EACE and harmony – two words John Lennon is likely to have appreciated. It is also the name of the new European Peace Monument unveiled in Liverpool on what would have been John’s 70th birthday last weekend. The 18ft aluminium statue features a globe surrounded by music and musical instruments, with doves of peace circling overhead - one holding a white feather at the request of Julian Lennon. It looks remarkably like a liver bird clutching a sprig in its beak. Amazing considering the artist, 19-year-old Lauren Voiers, hails from Ohio and is unlikely to have seen a liver bird before. And equally amazing since she started to design the monument (albeit with the music and words of Lennon ringing in her ears) before she knew the artwork was going to be erected in Liverpool. California-based Global Peace Initiative, which plans to erect a peace monument on every continent of the world, had
TRIBUTE: Julian Lennon with his mum Cynthia Lennon on stage with the Liverpool Signing choir in the background
earmarked Berlin for this one until a call out of the blue from the Beatles Story’s managing director Jerry Goldman a few months ago. “Going back to the beginning, we decided the city should have a Lennon festival and a key part of that was to try and attract more
GUEST STARS: Mark and Joe McGann at the unveiling
tourism, particularly from the US market,” he says. “The city has created a wonderful two-month programme of events, but then I felt something was missing. “When you go to New York and especially Strawberry Fields in Central Park, thousands and
EXPLORE THE WORLD OF A YOUNG JOHN THERE are places I’ll remember’ sang John Lennon in his love song to Liverpool, In My Life. Now those places, and the people the musician recalled, are being celebrated in a new book by author and friend, Mersey Beat founder Bill Harry. He explores the magical musical landscape through the eyes of the young Lennon, from Mendips to Aunt Mimi to McCartney, via Ye Cracke, Cynthia, the Casbah and the Cavern. In My Life - Lennon’s Liverpool by Bill Harry is published by Trinity Mirror Media costing £9.99. Buy it from www.merseyshop.com or call 0845 143 0001.
SUPPORTIVE: Julian Lennon embraces his mum Cynthia Lennon PICTURES: Colin Lane
thousands of people from all over the world gather and think of John Lennon. And I thought, why not such a happening in Liverpool?” He called Ben Valenty, the head of the Global Peace Initiative, looking for an artist to create something, and was told there was already a monument being created for Europe.
“He said ‘if you saw this monument you’d think it had been designed for John Lennon,” says Mr Goldman. And from then on, and with the city council and Liverpool ONE on board, Liverpool became the focus for the siting and unveiling of the piece. Mr Goldman says: “I think it will have a dramatic effect on tourism over time. But now it’s up to us to make the monument a living thing. We need people to gather and celebrate and contemplate.” Meanwhile Liverpool Lord Mayor Hazel Williams told the crowd which gathered to see the monument unveiled on Chavasse Park: “Liverpool is deeply honoured that the Global Peace Initiative has sought to choose John’s hometown to be their location for Europe’s beacon of hope and peace. “As a tribute to John’s life, it’s a fitting gift. A unique gift we are only too happy to accept. A precious gift which we promise to protect and to promote all that it stands for. “And through it we will continue to say – Give Peace A Chance.”
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Birth and childhood
Birth of a ‘working class hero’
FAMOUS FACES: Pupils from Dovedale Infants school in 1952, pictured are John Lennon, back row sixth from left, and Jimmy Tarbuck, fourth from left
BABY BOOM: John as a baby with his mum Julia
UTUMN 1940. Britain had been at war with Germany for just over a year and Merseyside was receiving a pummelling that would reach a climax in the eight-day ‘May Blitz’ of 1941. But the Luftwaffe turned its attention elsewhere and gave Liverpool a rest on the evening of October 9 when John Winston Lennon was born at the city’s Oxford Street Maternity Hospital. The baby’s mother Julia, who had endured a 30-hour labour, named him John after his grandfather Jack Lennon, and Winston after Churchill - although in an announcement in the ECHO a few days later he was simply described as “a son”.
GROWING UP: John with his Aunt Mimi
John’s Merchant Navy father Freddie, who had married Julia Stanley in December 1938, was at sea at the time, as he was to be on and off throughout the youngster’s early life. The young Lennon lived with his mum and other members of the family in Wavertree, and it was from there he went to his first school – not Dovedale, but Mosspits Lane Infants. In his new book, Lennon’s Liverpool (published by Trinity Mirror Media), Bill Harry describes how while accounts suggest the five-year-old was expelled for disruptive behaviour, there’s no evidence of that and it’s more likely he left because he went to live with his Aunt Mimi. John Lennon would spend the
HOME SWEET HOME: John outside Mendips with his Aunt Mimi
best part of 20 years living at 251 Menlove Avenue, the genteel Woolton semi-detached home of Mimi and George Smith. It was where his uncle taught him to read from the Liverpool ECHO, and bought him a mouth organ, and where his Aunt Mimi – the eldest of five Stanley sisters – gave him the home life that his mother couldn’t. Mimi had no children of her own, but she would raise the young John with a mixture of firmness and love, exasperation and pride. In an interview just before he died, Lennon recalled: “There were five women who were my family. Five strong, intelligent women. Five sisters.....those women were fantastic. That was my first feminist education.” That was to become particularly
true after the death of his beloved Uncle George when John was 14. Despite living in Garston with her partner Bobby Dykins and John’s half-sisters Julia and Jacquie, his mother too remained a presence in his life, teaching him the banjo and playing Elvis records. She would eventually also buy the teenager his first guitar. When he moved to Menlove Avenue, John was enrolled at Dovedale Primary where fellow pupils included Jimmy Tarbuck and George Harrison, three years his junior, as well as his close friend Pete Shotton. After passing his Eleven Plus, John moved to Quarry Bank High School in Allerton. It was to be the very start of things.
When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.
SCHOOL DAYS: John Lennon
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The Quarrymen days
Why has nobody discovered me? JUST BOYS: John Lennon playing a gallotone acoustic guitar with the Quarry Men at St Peters Church fete Woolton on July 6, 1957
T’S true to say that while he turned out to be its most famous alumnus, John Lennon was never Quarry Bank’s star pupil. He was cheeky, quick-witted and rebellious, he could be disruptive and his escapades exasperated his teachers, often winning him a caning, while he slipped from being in the top A stream to the bottom of the C stream during his time there. His third year report for example reads: “Hopeless. Rather a clown in class....he is wasting other pupils’ time.” The teenage Lennon of course saw it rather differently. “People like me are aware of their so-called genius at 10, eight, nine,” he would later say in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. “I always wondered, ‘why has nobody discovered me?’ Didn’t they see that I'm cleverer than anybody in this school? That the teachers are stupid, too? That all they had was information that I didn't need. I was different. I was always different. Why didn't anybody notice me?” Classmates recall his magnetism and sense of humour, the latter of which came out in his self-penned magazine the Daily Howl, which was packed with spoof news reports and quirky, hand-drawn cartoons – a precursor of the books, like A Spaniard in the Works, that he would produce a decade later.
LEARNING CURVE: The Quarry Men at the Casbah, from left are Paul, Ken Brown and John
EARLY DAYS: 17-year-old John Lennon, with Nigel Walley, the former manager of The Quarry Men
When I was about 12 I used to think I must be a genius, but nobody’s noticed. If there is such a thing as a genius, I am one, and if there isn't I don't care He would leave Quarry Bank empty-handed, having failed all seven O levels he sat, including art. But one thing he did achieve at school was the creation of his first band – a band named after Quarry Bank itself, the Quarry Men. It was the start of the new school year in September 1956 when John,
Pete Shotton, Eric Griffiths, Rod Davis, Colin Hanton and Bill Smith (later replaced by Len Garry), formed the skiffle group – the earliest playlists packed with as much Lonnie Donegan as Elvis. They played the Empire (unsuccessfully, in a talent competition) and even – presciently
– the Cavern, then a jazz club. But the turning point in both the band’s fortunes and indeed, the whole history of popular music, came on July 6 1957 at Woolton Church Fete where John Winston Lennon was introduced to a certain James Paul McCartney. Life was moving on for the
disaffected teen. He also left Quarry Bank for Liverpool Art School where he would meet two more pivotal people in his life – close friend Stuart Sutcliffe and first wife Cynthia Powell. Meanwhile the Quarry Men continued to play gigs around the city, and it was in February 1958 that 14-year-old George Harrison, a friend of McCartney’s from the Liverpool Institute, saw them play at Wilson Hall, later auditioning to join the band. And John, fired by Paul, also started to write his own songs. Then tragedy struck on July 15 1958 when John’s mother Julia was killed in a road accident after visiting Aunt Mimi in Menlove Avenue. John was devastated, but finally found solace in the music his mum had introduced him to. However, the Quarry Men themselves were coming to a natural conclusion. One of the final places they played – with Ken Brown joining Lennon, McCartney and Harrison – was Mona Best’s Casbah coffee club in West Derby. Lennon, who along with the others had helped decorate the basement club, told the opening night’s audience: “Hi everyone, welcome to the Casbah. We’re The Quarry Men and we are going to play you some rock ‘n’ roll.”
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Astrid’s work in focus BLEAK: John with Stuart at a deserted fairground in Hamburg
SUNSHINE BREAK: Ringo Starr, George Harrison and Paul McCartney
LYADER£1OFF0ER! OECN IAL RE SP
Astrid Kirchherr a retrospective
edited by Matthew H. Clough Colin Fallows & Astrid Kirchherr
A stunning collection of photographs by the legendary Hamburg photographer, including never before seen early shots of the Beatles. 297x210mm • 208 pages 100 halftones, b&w ISBN 9781846314773 Paperback: normally £16.95
To order Astrid Kirchherr: a retrospective for only £10 contact Janet Smith and quote ‘Echo10’ e: firstname.lastname@example.org t: 0151 795 2149 www.liverpool-unipress.co.uk
PENSIVE: John Lennon and George Harrison taken by Astrid
HE faces stare out of the pages - as they do from the photographs on the gallery wall; solemn, thoughtful, moody, occasionally smiling. But most of all, young and full of promise. Astrid Kirchherr’s carefully-constructed black and white images are captured in a Retrospective exhibition at Liverpool University’s Victoria Gallery & Museum and in an accompanying book – the latter complete with an interview with the photographer as well as essays on her influences. And influence. And while the Retrospective also encompasses her life on either side of the early 1960s, it’s those iconic images of the young Beatles that continue to fascinate. As Michael Bracewell writes in an ‘artist and muse’ chapter of the book: “Considered from half-a-century’s distance, there is a carefree and Eden-like air to the early days of the rock ‘n’ roll and pop era.” And he adds: “As a portrait photographer, Kirchherr possesses a rare fusion of acuity and compassion...the young musicians appear both wary and youthfully vulnerable.” Of course, below the tough exterior, there were few more vulnerable than John
● See Astrid Kirchherr: A Retrospective at the Victoria Gallery & Museum until the end of January 2011. A Liverpool University Press book to accompany the exhibition is available costing £19.95. Lennon, and a number of these early photographs capture that all too clearly. One of the most poignant images is of John and George Harrison sitting in the shadows in Stu Sutcliffe’s art studio in the attic of the Kirchherr home. John had returned to Hamburg in April 1962 to find his close friend had died from a brain haemorrhage. Astrid says Rory Storm
of the image: “That’s one of my absolute favourite pictures of John - sitting on a chair and George standing behind him, and when you look at George’s face, he was only 18 then but he looked like he had to be John’s guardian angel looking after him because John’s face is so sad and lonely.” It was in 1962 that Astrid also shot a whole reel of photos solely of John, while on an earlier visit to Hamburg she photographed the young Lennon and girlfriend Cynthia Powell messing about on the beach on the Baltic coast. In 1964, Stern magazine sent Astrid, along with fellow photographer Max Scheler, to London and Liverpool following the by-then world famous Beatles as they toured their first feature film A Hard Day’s Night, and chronicling the Mersey Beat scene. Eventually Astrid, now 72 and still living in Hamburg, gave up photography because she was tired of being “the Beatles photographer”. But while she may no longer wield a camera herself, she’s left an enduring legacy that captures a time and place before Beatlemania changed everyone’s lives forever.
It came in a vision - a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them, 'From this day forward you are Beatles with an A.' Thank you Mister Man, they said, thanking him.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
From Hamburg to The Cavern
The birth of The Beatles
MENTOR: Brian Epstein
HIP TO THE BEAT
ON October 9, 1960 John Lennon celebrated his birthday in Hamburg where the Beatles were playing at the Indra and Kaiserkeller. Best friend Stu Sutcliffe presented the 20-year-old with a special present - a hip flask, which now becomes one of the newest exhibits at Liverpool’s Beatles Story attraction. The German double-cupped flask is inscribed on the permanent leather covering with the words 'Fur Kaiser John Zu Seinem Geburtstag 9.Okt 1960 Von Stu' which translate as For Emperor John on your Birthday 9 Oct 1960 from Stu. On the reverse of the 6 inch flask, and stuck non-permanently on the leather, is another inscription reading 'items belonging to John Lennon from the Hamburg days, given to his friend Geoff Mohammed who sold them to me in Manchester.’
MEMENTO: John Lennon playing his Hamburg-bought rickenbacker guitar in The Cavern Club
CLASSIC: An uncropped version of Astrid Kirchherr's famous photo of the Beatles in Hamburg.
HE Beatles were born from the remnants of John Lennon’s Quarry Men in the spring of 1960. John had persuaded his Liverpool Art School friend Stu Sutcliffe to join his band, with the talented painter spending money he’d received from John Moores in payment for a painting on a bass guitar. It was Stu who suggested the name Beetles, which would morph through various permutations (including Beatals, Johnny and the Moondogs and Silver Beatles) to eventually become the Beatles. In the summer of 1960 their unofficial manager Allan Williams
BEGINNING OF THE BAND: John Lennon singing with the Beatles and Stuart Sutcliffe in the background, while over in Hamburg offered John, Paul, George and Stu a residency in Hamburg where he’d already sent fellow Liverpool band Derry and the Seniors. On August 15 they hired Pete Best as drummer, and the next day they left for Germany, crammed with various supporters into the back of Williams’ minivan. It was certainly an eye-opener for the five teenagers. Living conditions were poor (John described their cinema garret as a ‘pigsty’ and
‘toilet’) and hours long. But the many hours performing at the Indra and later the Kaiserkeller had the effect of taking the still-raw band and honing their musicianship and performance skills. It would be a leaner, punchier, tighter Beatles that returned to Liverpool that first Christmas, clad in black leather - their lilac stage suits (made by one of Paul’s neighbours) failing to last the Hamburg course.
I was born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg
Over the next two years, they returned several times and played at four different clubs, the final time at the Star Club in December 1962 with Ringo behind the drum kit. It was without John’s best friend Stu however. The bassist had fallen in love with Astrid Kirchherr, the young photographer who had befriended the band, and had left the Beatles to concentrate on his art studies. He was to die of a brain haemorrhage in Hamburg in April 1962. He was 21. In between residencies in the German city, the Beatles returned to Liverpool where they played from the Litherland Town Hall to the New
Brighton Tower Ballroom and everywhere in between. But it’s the Cavern that has become synonymous with the most famous band in the world. They made their first lunchtime appearance at the Mathew Street cellar venue (the best of cellars as Bob Wooler would quip) in February 1961, and between then and August 1963 played the Cavern 292 times. And it was at the Cavern on November 9 1961 that Brian Epstein first heard the band play live. Their Liverpool fanbase was growing, and Epstein - who told his assistant Alistair Taylor he thought they were ‘tremendous’ - was interested in managing them.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
SHOWTIME: John Lennon and Paul McCartney wave from the car on the way to the premiere of A Hard Day's Night in Liverpool, July 1964
BIGGER THAN YOU KNOW WHO: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison in New York
PLAYTIME: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr between performances at the Coventry theatre on 17 November 1963
John, Paul, George and Ringo hit the big time
SUITED AND BOOTED: The Beatles with Brian Epstein at the premiere of A Hard Day’s Night
N JANUARY 1 1962 John, Paul, George and Pete Best auditioned for Decca records – and were turned down. But their new manager Brian Epstein wasn’t to be deterred and approached Pye and Oriole records before meeting with George Martin, a producer at EMI offshoot Parlophone Records. Within three months of being taken on by the Abbey Road-based label, Pete had been replaced by Rory Storm’s drummer Ringo Starr, and the band had recorded their first chart single Love Me Do – opening with John Lennon’s distinctive harmonica. The rest, as they say, is history. In August 1962, with the band on the cusp of superstardom, John and Cynthia married at Liverpool’s Mount Pleasant Register Office. Brian Epstein was best man, and
DOTING FATHER: John Lennon with his son Julian
Cyn was already pregnant – giving birth to John Charles Julian Lennon on April 8 1963. At the unveiling of the Lennon peace monument in Liverpool on his birthday four days ago, Cynthia told the cheering crowd: “John planted many seeds in his life and one of the most important to me, and which has grown into this beautiful tree, is my son.” As Beatlemania took hold, it seemed the Fab Four could do no wrong. John’s cheeky request at the 1963 Royal Variety Performance that “would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest
HE NEEDS SOMEBODY: John Lennon and Ringo Starr on the set of Help!
LEARNER DRIVER: John Lennon passes his driving test in February 1965 with Paul, Ringo and George there to congratulate him
ON THE PISTE: John and Cynthia Lennon on a skiing holiday in St Moritz, Switzerland in January 1965
of you, if you'll, just rattle your jewellery” was met by laughter rather than outrage. And the quips and jokes of the quick-witted moptops became a part of their defining appeal. In ‘64 they broke the US, where the Lennon-McCartney penned I Want to Hold Your Hand blew away its chart rivals. But as Beatlemania reached its peak, John Lennon felt the burden of fame and the confines of the gilded cage he was now living in – the titles of the number one hits he wrote changing from I Feel Fine to Help! It was during this time, living in
AT YOUR CONVENIENCE: John Lennon dressed as a club commissionaire outside a public convenience near Berwick Street
suburban Surrey with Cynthia and Julian in between relentless tours and appearances, that he started to go through what he later described as his ‘fat Elvis’ period, fuelled by the brandy alexanders he now drank. And yet the John who penned Nowhere Man, described by Beatles author Ian Macdonald as a “creative confession of personal inadequacy” is also the John who wrote the evocative love letter to Liverpool, In My Life. John also turned to other interests – acting, not only in Beatles’ films but also as Private Gripweed in How I Won the War,
“It was like being in the eye of a hurricane. You'd wake up in a concert and think, Wow, how did I get here?”
and writing his nonsense books In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works. In 1965 the Beatles were awarded the MBE, and played before 55,000 screaming (deafening to be exact) fans at New York’s Shea Stadium. But the hysteria in the US was to take a different turn when John, in an interview with British journalist Maureen Cleave, was thought to have suggested the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. It caused a furious backlash in some states with Beatles records burned and protests in the streets. Lennon had also, at this time, started experimenting with LSD, most clearly seen through his music in Revolver’s Tomorrow Never Knows. And then he met a young Japanese artist in London. Her name was Yoko Ono.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
John and Yoko
Give peace a chance
DOWN TIME: John Lennon during a turbulent time for the band
DRINK UP: John Lennon with wife Cynthia and Paul McCartney in January 1968
N the autumn of 1966 John Lennon attended the opening of an exhibition at London’s Indica gallery by a young Japanese conceptual artist called Yoko Ono. By all accounts the 26-year-old was intrigued by some of her artwork, and by the artist herself. Their meeting came at a time when the Beatles had stopped touring and were about to embark on a new period of studio-based creativity which would produce what would become one of the seminal albums of all time – Sergeant Pepper. If 1966 had been a turbulent year for John and the band, 1967 was to be equally eventful. Sergeant Pepper was released on June 1, and three weeks later the Beatles performed their latest single – penned by John – All You Need is
NEW START: An early image of John Lennon and Yoko Ono seen together in public PICTURE: Bill Zgymant
SPIRITUAL SIDE: The Beatles arriving in North Wales with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in August 1967 just before the death of Brian Epstein Love to an audience of millions on Our World, the first live global TV link. Then in August, when the band were in North Wales studying with the Mahareshi Yogi, news reached them that Brian Epstein had been found dead at his London flat. It left the Beatles rudderless, with John later saying: “I knew that we where in trouble then.” Bickering and divisions started to grow, but the band continued to create records and embarked on their ill-fated adventure into retailing with the Apple Boutique.
Meanwhile John’s private life began to disintegrate. In early 1968, as the Beatles prepared to fly to India with their partners to study with the Mahareshi in Rishikesh, Cynthia discovered a number of letters Yoko had written to John. He denied he was involved with the artist, but during the months he was in India she would send him letters and postcards containing messages like ‘I’m a cloud. Watch out for me in the sky.” The storm broke when, back home in the UK, Cynthia went on holiday to Greece with Julian and in
her absence John invited Yoko to come to his home where they spent all night recording what would later become the avant garde Two Virgins LP. Cynthia would later find Yoko in her own home, wearing a dressing gown. John and Yoko married in Gibraltar in March 1969, immortalised in The Ballad of John and Yoko, followed by their highly-publicised Bed-Ins for peace in Amsterdam and Montreal. As well as influencing John’s political and artistic outlook, Yoko
If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that's his problem. Love and peace are eternal
was to take an increasingly active part in his music career, and alongside the Beatles Lennon started to record separately as The Plastic Ono Band. The music protested at the Vietnam War (John returned his MBE to the Palace) and included the chant-like Give Peace a Chance as well as songs like Instant Karma and Cold Turkey. The Beatles disintegrated in late 1969, eventually making their break-up official in 1970. Lennon continued to create new politically-themed music with the Plastic Ono Band including Power to the People and Working Class Hero. And then in 1971, he created what many consider his most iconic piece of writing and what has consistently been voted one of the greatest songs of all time - Imagine.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The New York years
OHN Lennon and Yoko Ono moved to New York City – Liverpool’s unofficial twin across the ocean – in August 1971, staying initially at the St Regis Hotel. “If I’d lived in Roman times, I’d have lived in Rome, where else?” John once said. “Today America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself.” It wasn’t an easy move however – the American people may have embraced Beatlemania back in 1964, but in the early 70s the American government was less effusive about Lennon-the-peace-activist. In fact, within a year they were trying to have him deported, arguing that a conviction for possession of cannabis in the UK four years’ earlier made him an undesirable alien. It took three years and a change of regime to overturn the order. Meanwhile the FBI was also keeping a close watch on Lennon, collating a bumper 281-page file on the former Beatle. In the meantime, John’s musical output continued, with Happy Xmas (War is Over), and albums Some Time in New York City and Mind Games among his recordings. He would later record his only solo number one in his lifetime, Whatever Gets You Thru the Night (with Elton John) and co-wrote Fame with David Bowie. His personal life, however, was unravelling, and in 1973 he started what became ironically known as his ‘lost weekend’ – if weekends last 18 months – separation from Yoko. John left for California with May Pang, the couple’s personal assistant whose influence caused him to re-establish fractured relationships with among others his son Julian. In January 1975 John and Yoko were reunited and she became pregnant with their son Sean, born on his dad’s 35th birthday – October 9. John retreated from public life to become a house-husband and to look after his ‘beautiful boy’, later explaining: “He didn't come out of my belly, but my God, I've made his bones, because I've attended to every meal, and how he sleeps, and the fact that he swims like a fish because I took him to the ocean. “I'm so proud of all those things. But he is my biggest pride.” It was to be five years before the world heard from John Lennon again.
LAZY DAYS: John and Yoko lounging around in their New York apartment
John takes a bite of the Big Apple
BEAUTIFUL BOY: Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon outside Strawberry Fields in Liverpool
Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans (from Beautiful Boy)
URBAN LIFE: John and Yoko in Battery Park in New York Photo by Iain MacMillan © Yoko Ono
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
John Lennon 1940-80
TRAGIC SCENE: The police near the cordoned off entrance to the Dakota Building after the murder of John Lennon in December 1980, inset the killer Mark Chapman and John
BACK ON FORM: John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, arrive at The Hit Factory in New York on August 22, 1980
N 1980, after five years of self-imposed seclusion, John Lennon suddenly re-emerged into the public spotlight. As he himself explained it: “I'd go through periods of panic, because I wasn’t in Billboard or being seen at Studio 54 with Mick and Bianca. I mean, I didn't exist anymore. And I realised there was a life without it. “I thought, ‘this reminds me of being 15!’ I didn't have to write songs at 15. I wrote if I wanted to. That’s when I suddenly could do it again with ease. All the songs that are on Double Fantasy all came within a period of three weeks.” In October, John turned 40 and he released his first single in five years, fittingly entitled (Just Like) Starting Over. He was lean and focussed, recording the songs he had penned on a boat trip to Bermuda, and a month later the Double Fantasy album, released with Yoko, appeared. In fact, so focussed and energised
The death of a legend TRIBUTE: The Strawberry Fields Memorial Garden in New York with the Imagine tribute to John
was Lennon that in those final few weeks of his life he recorded enough material to create a follow-up album. On December 8 1980, John Lennon got up and embarked on
a day which included a radio interview with San Francisco DJ Dave Sholin, a photoshoot with Annie Liebovitz, and a recording session at the Record Plant studio.
As he left the Dakota building for the recording studio that afternoon, he’d signed an autograph for a man waiting outside. Shortly before 11pm, when John and Yoko returned
END OF AN ERA: The double fantasy album, which was autographed by John Lennon and given to Mark Chapman home, that man - Mark Chapman - stepped from the shadows and shot him several times. Despite efforts to save him, within 20 minutes John Winston Lennon had been pronounced dead. Fans across the world were plunged into shock. In Liverpool, a gathering was organised outside St George’s Hall where 25,000 people congregated for the six-hour vigil. The ECHO reported: “At 7pm, the tearful fans joined millions throughout the world in 10 minutes’ silent prayer at the request of John’s widow Yoko Ono.” Meanwhile more than 225,000 converged on New York's Central Park, close to the scene of the shooting. Chapman was sentenced to 20 years to life, but conspiracy theories still abound about the circumstances surrounding John Lennon’s murder. One thing is certain. It was a tragic, futile waste of a life.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The legacy of John Lennon HARD AT WORK: John Lennon in 1971 during the fliming of Imagine, inset, the handwritten lyrics of Imagine by John
The legacy of Lennon will live forever I
PLAYFUL GENIUS: John and Yoko Picture: Bill Zygmant
’VE always considered my work one piece and I consider that my work won’t be finished until I am dead and buried, and I hope that’s a long, long time.” Little could John Lennon have known when he uttered those words – in an RKO Radio interview on December 8 19180 – that they would be some of his last. And little could he have known that although he has been gone three decades now, his work did anything but die with him. First there’s the music. Lennon left the world some of the most inventive, influential and memorable songs ever created, from Across the Universe and All You Need is Love to In My Life and Imagine. The Lennon and McCartney songwriting partnership was responsible for changing the way people thought about popular music and for inspiring generations of young musicians from the 60s onwards. And Lennon’s voice has continued to speak loudly, through his words and snatches of melodies he’s left behind, including the 1995 reworkings of Real Love
NAMESAKE: Yoko Ono at Liverpool John Lennon Airport
and Free as a Bird. He was inducted, posthumously, into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Imagine has topped many of the ‘best song ever’ polls, while in 2002 the British public voted him eighth in the 100 Greatest Britons. In 2002, Speke airport was renamed Liverpool John Lennon Airport in a ceremony attended by the Queen as well as Yoko Ono. There are monuments to and statues of the former Beatle in Liverpool, Havana and Lima, a Placa John Lennon in
Barcelona, a Lennon wall in Prague, the Imagine Peace Tower in Reykjavik and the Imagine mosaic in New York’s Central Park. Alder Hey’s Imagine Appeal was named in his memory, while in Japan a charity concert held each December 8 has so far raised enough money to build 80 schools in Lennon’s name. There have been plenty of controversies over the licensing of Lennon’s image for commercial enterprises. But his legacy is greater than any advert, merchandise or product. And it continues to shine on.