John Lennon is one of the most famous names to have come out of Liverpool and today the musician, poet and pacifist would have been 73.
John Lennon didn’t have an easy upbringing. After being abandoned by his father, John lived with his Aunt Mimi and struggled to have a functional relationship with his mother, Julia. The pair grew close however and it was Julia who introduced him to Rock and Roll. When John Lennon was eighteen, he was left devastated when Julia was killed by a car being driven by an off duty policeman.
John went on to pursue his love of music and his first band, The Quarrymen, eventually evolved into legendary group, The Beatles. In the 1960’s, The Beatles revolutionised the music scene and Beatlemania swept across the world.
John Lennon’s life was tragically cut short when he was shot dead on 8th December 1980, at age 40, outside the apartment he shared with Yoko Ono in New York. The killer was Mark Chapman, a Beatles fanatic who had asked John for an autograph just hours before. His death came just three weeks after the release of his album Double Fantasy, which marked the first album for Lennon since the birth of his son in 1975.
John Lennon’s name will always be synonymous with peace and political activism. In September 1969, Lennon famously returned his MBE awarded to the Beatles by Queen Elizabeth, in protest over Great Britain’s support for the Vietnam War. After their marriage, John and Yoko Ono staged a “bed-in” for peace in Amsterdam. During the couple’s second bed-in, John recorded Give Peace A Chance, a song that remains an anthem for the anti-war movement today.
This year, the anniversary of John Lennon’s birthday will be commemorated by Yoko Ono with a series of events in Iceland. There will also be a candlelit vigil at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which had to be cleaned over the weekend after being vandalised.
Since his death, John Lennon’s legend continues to grow stronger. He will forever be remembered for his music, his activism and of course, his round glasses.
In August 1964 The Beatles played at Forest Hills stadium in New York. After the show Bob Dylan paid a visit to the band in their suite at the Delmonico Hotel.
While waiting for some “cheap wine”, Bob Dylan asked the Fab Four if they wanted to smoke a joint. Their manager, Brain Epstein, sheepishly admitted that they’d never smoked cannabis before. Dylan was surprised by this as he thought the band were regular smokers, thanks to the song I Want To Hold Your Hand. In fact, Dylan had mistaken the lyrics “I can’t hide” for “I get high”.
John Lennon took the joint from Bob Dylan and passed it to Ringo, who he called his royal taster. Not being familiar with the etiquette of passing the joint around, Ringo smoked the whole thing to himself. In the end, Dylan rolled a joint for everyone, including Epstein.
I don’t remember much what we talked about. We were smoking dope, drinking wine and generally being rock’n’rollers and having a laugh, you know, and surrealism. It was party time. – John Lennon
Paul McCartney took a somewhat more philosophical approach to being high and instructed Mal Evans to follow him round the hotel suite with a notebook, writing down all the profound things McCartney was saying. Evans kept the notebook until his death in 1976, when it was confiscated and subsequently lost by the LAPD.