Before Christmas I read Philip Norman’s biography of John Lennon – I just got it for the 150 pages that dealt with the last ten years of his life, because we got this DVD about Lennon, which was narrated by the man himself, but it skimmed over a lot of things that happened from 1970 – 1980.
I was a perfect consumer: I bought the DVD which made me buy the book which, when I couldn’t find my old Greatest Hits CD, made me by the CD.
I read a biography of someone and then I forget everything I’ve read, so before that happens, I’m putting up 16 points about John Lennon (at least three of which you can throw into a conversation when it needs a pick-up):
- He discovered Brandy Alexanders when he was 33 and they knocked him out.
- He really liked playing Midnight Special.
- He was pals with Nilsson for a while, until Nilsson’s voice got shot and Lennon realised Nilsson was a bad influence.
- His last stage appearance took place in Madison Square Garden on 28 November 1974 (Thanksgiving night), at an Elton John gig. They sang Whatever Gets You Through the Night, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, and I Saw Her Standing There.
- He sometimes referred to himself as Dr Winston O’Boogie
- He had a lot of insecurity and self-doubt
- His Dad, Freddie, cuts a sympathetic figure, and wrote an autobiography which no one cared about, partly to convince John that he hadn’t walked out on him in 1946
- Thomas Hoving, director of the Met, said of Lennon: “If he were a painting I’d hang him in the Metropolitan Museum.”
- John and Yoko put some store in Chinese astrology and numerology. In Japan, travel agencies put some store by this too, to the extent that they employed “direction masters”, who would plan out the best route for clients. John and Yoko went along with this, so, for example, one time, when they were coming back from Japan, Yoko flew Tokyo to New York directly, but John had to fly Tokyo-Hong Kong-Dubai-Frankfurt-New York.
- Yoko had a daughter who couldn’t be found for four years in a row – her Dad took her and disappeared.
- Lennon preferred mono to stereo.
- In the mid-Seventies Lennon would say he’d rather have been one of the [Monty] Pythons than one of the Beatles.
- Lennon liked fridges with glass doors so he didn’t have to open them to see what was inside.
- After reading David Niven’s autobiography, Bring On The Empty Horses, Lennon hoped he’d last as long as the actor, and like him, would have been to all the crazy parties “but…come out sane in the end”.
- When Yoko started managing their finances she bought, amongst other things, a Renoir (Jeunes filles au bord de la mer) and a herd of 122 Holstein cows and 10 bulls. When a pal, referring to these and other purchases, said to Lennon: “Imagine no possessions, John”, Lennon said: “It’s only a bloody song.” Elton John, at this time, made up fresh lyrics to Imagine, which didn’t piss Lennon off because they were friends: “Imagine six apartments/It isn’t hard to do/One if full of furs coats/The other’s full of shoes.”
- A few months before he was murdered he set sail from Rhode Island on a yacht called the Megan Jaye, with a small crew, to travel 700 miles over the course of a week, to Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda. There was a small crew and they got caught in a storm in the middle of their journey. For a while, Lennon was the only one who wasn’t seasick or exhausted and was entrusted with sailing the yacht, something that impressed the captain no end.
Photo by Jack Mitchell