John Winston Lennon joined this world today in 1940. As part of the Beatles he helped shape modern music writing some iconic songs. He worked for peace and against the Vietnam War. He was threatened with deportation from the USA by the Nixon administration, investigated by the FBI. He was murdered on 8th December 1980 by Mark David Chapman.
Lennon was raised by his aunt Mimi although he did have regular contact with his birth mother Julia. She bought him a banjo when he was 11 and taught him to play “Aint That A Shame” by Fats Domino. She also bought him his first guitar in 1957. His aunt Mimi was not in favour of his infatuation with music and did not share his faith that he would be famous one day and make a living out of music. Julia died after being hit by a car driven by an off duty policeman in 1958.,
Lennon had co-founded a skiffle group in 1956 which had him on banjo. Originally called The Blackjacks they changed their name to The Quarrymen (after the school that they attended) as another local group was using that name. Their repertoire consisted of Lonnie Donegan songs which they aired at parties, school dances and the like.
The whole local music scene was very fluid at this time with various lineups and personnel sitting in with other groups but the Beatles began to come together. When Paul McCartney joined The Quarrymen he insisted that George Harrison also join over Lennon’s objections that Harrison was too young. Later Stu Suttcliffe (bass) joined and suggested that they change their name to The Beetles, later The Silver Beetles and then to The Beatles. Their first recording was “That Will Be The Day” with “In spite of All the Danger” (by McCartney and Harrison) on the other side. The recording cost 17/6 (£0.77) and the one disc produced was passed around the band. It resurfaced in 1981 when McCartney bought it for an undisclosed amount.
Against Mimi’s vehement objections Lennon went with the other Beetles to Hamburg in 1960. That residency at Bruno Koschmider’s Indra club did not last long. The Beatles were deported back to the UK after a minor arson incident and it was discovered that Harrison was under age.
The Beatles went on to be the biggest band in the world, of course, but why should we celebrate Lennon’s birth? He was voted the 8th greatest Briton by BBC viewers (but then Dianna came 3rd…..), he was awarded an MBE (or was that an OBE – don’t know and don’t care). Helped to shape popular music and wrote some great rock and pop songs. But, what made him so great?
I think he together with, but perhaps more than, the other Beatles showed what was possible. In those days you went to school and then left to find a job, got married, had children, and then died. There were no other options, until we were showed otherwise. He was an inspiration for others, and surely that is as good as anyone’s life can get, there is nothing better.
My favourite Lennon song, I even like the Tin machine version (yes, I was the one person who bought that god awful album).
You know, I am not terribly happy with this post. My heart is not really in it. I don’t think that I have done JL justice, so much more than a member of the Beatles.
Perhaps it is just because it is 5.00am…….