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John Lennon

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John Lennon
A bearded, bespectacled man in his late twenties, with long black hair.
John Lennon, in 1969
Background information
Birth name John Winston Lennon
Born 9 October 1940(1940-10-09)
Liverpool, England
Died 8 December 1980(1980-12-08) (aged 40)
New York, New York
Genres Rock, pop
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter, record producer, artist, writer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica, harmonium, electronic organ, six-string bass
Years active 1957–75, 1980
Labels Parlophone, Capitol, Apple, EMI, Geffen, Polydor
Associated acts The Quarrymen, The Beatles, Plastic Ono Band, The Dirty Mac, Yoko Ono
Notable instruments
Rickenbacker 325
Epiphone Casino
Gibson J-160E

Early Years

I was bored on the 9th of Octover 1940 when, I believe, the Nasties were still booming us led by Madalf Heatlump (Who only had one). Anyway they didn't get me. I attended to varicous schools in Liddypol. And still didn't pass-much to my Aunties supplies.

—John Lennon, In His Own Write, 1964

I lived in the suburbs in a nice semi-detached place with a small garden and doctors and lawyers and that ilk living around, not the poor slummy kind of image that was projected. I was a nice clean-cut suburban boy ... Paul, George and Ringo ... lived in government-subsidized houses. We owned our own house, had our own garden, and they didn't have anything like that. So I was a bit of a fruit compared to them.

—John Lennon, The Playboy Interviews, 1980

[Is your mother still alive?] No, she got killed by an off-duty cop who was drunk. She was just at the bus stop and he ran her down in a car. So that was another big trauma for me. I lost her twice. Once as a five-year-old when I was moved in with my auntie. And once again at fifteen when she actually, physically died. And that was very traumatic for me. I was at art school. So I must have been sixteen. So it must have been 1956. ... It just absolutely made me very, very bitter. The underlying chip on my shoulder that I had as a youth got really big then. Being a teenager and a rock 'n' roller and an art student and my mother being killed just when I was reestablishing a relationship with her was very traumatic for me.

—John Lennon, The Playboy Interviews, p.137, 1980

At Woolton village fete I met him. I was a fat schoolboy and, as he leaned an arm on my shoulder, I realised that he was drunk. We were twelve then, but, in spite of his sideboards, we went on to become teenage pals.

Aunt Mimi, who had looked after him since he was so high, used to tell me how he was cleverer than he pretended, and things like that. He had written a poem for the school magazine about a hermit who said: 'as breathing is my life, to stop I dare not dare.' This made me wonder right away — 'Is he deep?' He wore glasses so it was possible, and even without them there was no holding him. 'What 'bus?' he would say to howls of appreciative laughter.

He went to Quarry Bank High School for Boys and later attended to the Liverpool Art College. He left school and played with a group called the Beatles.

—Paul McCartney, Introduction Lennon's In His Own Write, 1964

When I met Paul he could play guitar, trumpet, and piano. ... I could only play the mouth organ and two chords on a guitar when we met. I tuned the guitar like a banjo. I'd learned guitar from my mother, who only knew how to play banjo, so my guitar only had five strings on it. Paul taught me how to play the guitar proper — but I had to learn the chords left-handed, because Paul is left-handed. So I learned them upside down and I'd go home and reverse them. ... That's what I was doing the day we met — playing on stage with a group, playing a five-string guitar like a banjo, when he was brought around from the audience to meet me.

—John Lennon, The Playboy Interviews, p.117, 1980

Jann Wenner: When did you first realize [you were a genius]? When I was about 12. I used to think I must be a genius, but nobody’s noticed. I used to wonder whether I’m a genius or I’m not, which is it? I used to think, well, I can’t be mad, because nobody’s put me away, therefore, I’m a genius. A genius is a form of madness, and we’re all that way, you know, and I used to be a bit coy about it, like my guitar playing.

—John Lennon, Rolling Stone Interview, Dec 8, 1970

People like me are aware of their so-called genius at ten, eight, nine... I always wondered, “why has nobody discovered me?” In school, 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 got fuckin’ lost in being at high school. I used to say to me auntie “You throw my fuckin’ poetry out, and you’ll regret it when I’m famous,” and she threw the bastard stuff out.

I never forgave her for not treating me like a fuckin’ genius or whatever I was, when I was a child.

It was obvious to me. Why didn’t they put me in art school? Why didn’t they train me? Why would they keep forcing me to be a fuckin’ cowboy like the rest of them? I was different, I was always different. Why didn’t anybody notice me?

A couple of teachers would notice me, encourage me to be something or other, to draw or to paint–express myself. But most of the time they were trying to beat me into being a fuckin’ dentist or a teacher. And then the fuckin’ fans tried to beat me into being a fuckin’ Beatle or an Engelbert Humperdinck, and the critics tried to beat me into being Paul McCartney.

—John Lennon, Rolling Stone Interview, Dec 8, 1970

Do you have a picture of “when I’m 64”? No, no. I hope we’re a nice old couple living off the coast of Ireland or something like that – looking at our scrapbook of madness.

—John Lennon, Rolling Stone Interview, Dec 8, 1970

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