mark lennon

Paul’s sessions with John were only possible Tuesdays to Fridays. It was only because Jim wanted Paul to stay away from the troublemaker that he was sagging off school, courting trouble like he’d never done before. They’d go into what McCartneys called the front parlour, a basic standard 1950s front room. John and Paul sat opposite each other by the fireplace. As Paul was left-handed so their guitars went the same way and each had the mirror effect of watching the other’s fingers shape the chords as if his own. Paul would later call these ‘eyeball to eyeball’ sessions, and he was treated to something few witnessed: John put his glasses on. Only rarely they leave his pocket. Almost in each other’s faces, John and Paul quickly gained an usual closeness, little or nothing hidden. Paul noticed John had beautiful hands.
—  The Beatles - All These Years - Extended Special Edition: Volume One: Tune In by Mark Lewisohn

Mark David Chapman, who shot Beatles frontman John Lennon in cold blood, clutches his copy of The Catcher in the Rye. The disturbed gunman considered the book by J.D Salinger as his personal Bible, and identified heavily with its depressed teenage protagonist. He claimed he shot the rock and roll legend to expose him as a ‘phony’ who did not actually believe in the minimalist lifestyle he sang about.

Red Hot
The Beatles
Red Hot

My girl is red hot!

“[…] And George launches himself into an ultra-fast “Red Hot.” No other recording shows him as an out-and-out rocker quite as much: he sings lead and then trades fast lines with John, Ringo drums like a man possessed, and here’s the first footage recording of keyboards on a Beatles track, when John slings the guitar around his back and plays a solo on Roy Young’s electric organ.” - Mark Lewisohn, “18-31 December 1962”, The Beatles - All These Years: Tune In (unfortunately it cuts off before the song finishes)

“What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff- I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy." 

-Holden Caulfield. 

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On the night of December 8th 1980, a cab pulled up outside the Dakota building in Manhattan, New York. Beatles legend John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono had just returned from a recording session, and the star signed an autograph for an intrepid fan wearing a fur hat. As Lennon turned to walk away four shots rang out, from a Charter Arms Undercover .38 handgun clutched in the fan’s hand. Lennon stumbled and fell to the sound of his wife screaming his name. The man - Mark David Chapman - said simply “Ive killed John Lennon” before allowing himself to be arrested. Lennon died soon afterwards.

John & Yoko during their first “bed-in” for peace held during their honeymoon at the Amsterdam Hilton, March 1969 I Photo Credit: Mark & Colleen Hayward

“The press seemed to think we were going to make love in public because we made an album with us naked - so they seem to think anything goes. And, as I said, it might be a very good idea for peace, but I think I’d probably be the producer of that event rather than be actually in the event.“ - John

That John was taking Paul, no one else, accentuates the renewed closeness since Stu quit the Beatles. They were the Beatles’ force, an unstoppable and authentically powerful pair.

“You’d always see them together, in the pub or walking along the street,” says Johnny Gustafson of the Big Three. “They were a duo, and seemed each other’s equal.” Bernie Boyle, the young lad hanging around with them at every opportunity (and they made him suffer for it), says, “They were like brothers, with John as the elder, Paul’s mentor. They were so tight it was like there was a telepathy between them: on stage, they’d look at each other and know instinctively what the other was thinking.”

They were brothers. They were the Nerk Twins, and now they were taking a break from the Beatles and going off to Spain. En route, they’d stop a day or two in Paris, to size up the Brigittes, check out the kind of clothes Jurgen Vollmer wore, and perhaps see Jurgen himself, if he was around.

Gustafson happened to bump into them the day they left, Saturday 30 September. “They both had bowler hats on, with the usual leather jackets and jeans. They said they were off to Paris, so I walked down to Lime Street station with them and watched them go. They were an incredible pair: always great fun, irreverent, and so close.”

All These Years: Volume One, Mark Lewisohn

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October 9th 1940: John Lennon born

On this day in 1940, John Lennon was born in Liverpool to parents Julia and Alfred Lennon. His father left when John was very young, and his mother left him in the care of his Aunt Mimi. Lennon lived with his aunt and uncle at 251 Menlove Avenue for most of his childhood and adolescence. Lennon’s first band was called the Quarrymen, which soon added Paul McCartney and George Harrison as members. This group became The Beatles in 1960, and spent some time playing in Hamburg; at this time the band also included Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best. In 1962, Sutcliffe left and Ringo Starr replaced Best as the band’s drummer, thus creating ‘The Fab Four’. The Beatles shot to fame in the UK, with many successful chart-topping hits including ‘She Loves You’ and ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’. In 1964, the Beatles visited the United States and played on the Ed Sullivan Show to a television audience of 73 million people - around 40% of the American population. The first America visit catapulted the four Liverpudlians to the status of international stars, and ‘Beatlemania’ became a global phenomenon. Lennon wrote several of the band’s biggest hits, such as ‘All You Need is Love’, ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’, and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. The Beatles broke up in 1970, having released twelve studio albums in the UK, and each pursued solo careers. Lennon released several songs as a solo artist which have become as famous as many Beatles songs, including the iconic 'Imagine’, 'Instant Karma!’ and 'Working Class Hero’. Lennon and his second wife Yoko Ono became prominent activists for peace, demonstrated through their 'bed-in’ protest to the war in Vietnam. In December 1980, John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman outside his New York home, leaving behind his two sons Julian and Sean. The Beatles are remembered as one of the greatest bands of all time, and Lennon remains an iconic cultural figure.

Today, John Lennon would have turned 75

The Beatles at Speke Airport in Liverpool 4 September 1962 enroute to do the sessions for “Love Me Do” in London Photo Credit: Brian Epstein from the book “All These Years: Volume One: Tune In” Mark Lewisohn

(Note George’s black eye which resulted after he was headbutted by an angry fan after  the announcement that Ringo had replaced Pete Best. )

“George fought for me.” - Ringo, The Beatles Anthology

“Some of the fans – a couple of them – were shouting ‘Pete is best!’ and ‘Ringo never, Pete Best forever!’, but it was a small group and we ignored it. However, after about half an hour our it was getting a bit tiring so I shouted to the audience. When we stepped out of the band room into the dark tunnel, some guy nodded me one, giving me a black eye. The things we have to do for Ringo!” – George, The Beatles Anthology

Did you know?

John Lennon marked almost every page of a biographical pamphlet about The Beatles, called The Beatles From Apple, with corrections and comments in 1971. 

In an entry noting Paul and Linda’s wedding, John crossed out the word “wedding” and written “funeral” in it’s place. Normal stuff. 

Who never called their best friend’s wedding a funeral when they were mad at each other, right? Awww…