A John Lennon Tribute - John Lennon's history and early years, Lennon quotes

John  Lennon

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Painting © Stuart Hampton (Used with perrmission)

John Winston Ono Lennon has been exhumed in print more than any other popular musical figure, including the late Elvis Presley, of whom Lennon said that he "died when he went into the army". Such was the cutting wit of a deeply loved and sadly missed giant of the twentieth century. As a member of the world's most successful group ever, he changed lives, mostly for the better. Following the painful collapse of the Beatles, he came out a wiser but angrier person. Together with his wife Yoko Ono, he attempted to transform the world through non-musical means.

To many they appeared as naive crackpots; Ono in particular has been victim of some appalling insults in the press. One example shown in the film Imagine depicts the cartoonist Al Capp being both hostile and dangerously abusive. Their bed-in in Amsterdam and Montreal, their black bag appearances on stage, their innocent flirting with political activists and radicals, all received massive media attention. These events were in search of world peace, which regrettably was unachievable. What Lennon did achieve, however, was to educate us all to the idea of world peace. During the Gulf War of 1991, time and time again various representatives of those countries who were initially opposed to war (and then asked for a cease-fire), unconsciously used Lennon's words; "Give Peace A Chance". The importance of that lyric could never have been contemplated, when a bunch of mostly stoned members of the Plastic Ono Band sat on the floor of the Hotel La Reine and recorded "Give Peace A Chance", a song that has grown in stature since its release in 1969. Lennon's solo career began a year earlier with Unfinished Music No 1 - Two Virgins. The sleeve depicted him and Ono standing naked, and the cover became better known than the disjointed sound effects contained within. Three months later Lennon continued his marvellous joke on us, with Unfinished Music No 2 - Life With The Lions. One side consisted of John and Yoko calling out to each other during her stay in a London hospital while pregnant. Lennon camped by the side of her bed during her confinement and subsequent miscarriage. Four months after "Give Peace a Chance", "Cold Turkey" arrived via the Plastic Ono Band, consisting of Lennon, Ono, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann and drummer Alan White. This raw rock song about heroin withdrawal was also a hit, although it failed to make the UK Top 10. Again, Lennon's incorrigible wit worked when he sent back his MBE to the Queen, protesting about the Biafran war, Britain supporting the American involvement in Vietnam and "Cold Turkey" slipping down the charts.

john lennon In February 1970, a freshly cropped-headed Lennon was seen performing "Instant Karma' on the BBC Television programme Top Of The Pops; this drastic action was another anti-war protest. This Phil Spector-produced offering was his most melodic post-Beatles song to date and was his biggest hit thus far in the UK and the USA. The release of John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band in January 1971 was a shock to the system for most Beatles" fans. This stark "primal scream" album was recorded following treatment with Dr. Arthur Janov. It is as brilliant as it is disturbing. Lennon poured out much of his bitterness from his childhood and adolescence, neat and undiluted. The screaming "Mother" finds Lennon grieving for her loss and begging for his father. Lennon's Dylanesque "Working Class Hero" is another stand-out track; in less vitriolic tone he croons: "A working class hero is something to be, if you want to be a hero then just follow me". The irony is that Lennon was textbook middle-class and his agony stemmed from the fact that he wanted to be working-class. The work was a cathartic exorcism for Lennon, most revealing on "God", in which he voiced the heretical, "I don't believe in the Beatles . . . ", before adding, "I just believe in me, Yoko and me, and that's reality." More than any other work in the Lennon canon, this was a farewell to the past. The album was brilliant, and 20 or more years later, it is regarded as his finest complete work.

His most creative year was 1971. Following the album Lennon released another strong single, "Power To The People". After his move to New York, the follow-up Imagine was released in October. Whilst the album immediately went to number 1 internationally, it was a patchy collection. The attack on Paul McCartney in "How Do You Sleep?" was laboured over in the press and it took two decades before another track, "Jealous Guy", was accepted as a classic, and only then after Bryan Ferry's masterly cover became a number 1 hit. Lennon's resentment towards politicians was superbly documented in "Gimme Some Truth" when he spat out, "I'm sick and tired of hearing things from uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites". The title track, however, remains as one of his greatest songs. Musically "Imagine" is extraordinarily simple, but the combination of that simplicity and the timeless lyrics make it one of the finest songs of the century. A Christmas single came in December, "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)", another song destined for immortality and annual reissue. Again, an embarrassingly simple message: "War is over if you want it".

lennon nyc The following year Sometime In New York City was issued; this double set contained a number of political songs, and was written during the peak of Lennon's involvement with hippie-radical, Jerry Rubin. Lennon addresses numerous problems with angry lyrics over deceptively melodic songs. The lilting and seemingly innocent "Luck Of The Irish" is one example of melody with scathing comment. The album's strongest track is yet another song with one of Lennon's statement-like titles: "Woman Is The Nigger Of The World". Once again he was ahead of the game, making a bold plea for women's rights a decade before it became fashionable. The following year he embarked on his struggle against deportation and the fight for his famous "green card". At the end of a comparatively quiet 1973, Lennon released Mind Games, an album that highlighted problems between him and Yoko. Shortly afterwards, Lennon left for his "lost weekend" and spent many months in Los Angeles in a haze of drugs and alcohol. During a brief sober moment he produced Nilsson's Pussycats. At the end of a dreadful year, Lennon released Walls And Bridges, which contained more marital material and a surprise US number 1, "Whatever Gets You Through The Night", a powerful rocker with Lennon sounding in complete control. That month (November 1974), he made his last ever concert appearance when he appeared onstage at Madison Square Garden with Elton John. That night Lennon was reunited with Ono and, in his words, "the separation failed".

lennon tribute Rock 'N' Roll was released the next year; it was a tight and energetic celebration of many of his favourite songs, including "Slippin' And Slidin'", "Peggy Sue" and a superb "Stand By Me'. The critics and public loved it and it reached number 6 on both sides of the Atlantic. Following the birth of their son Sean, Lennon became a house husband, while Ono looked after their not inconsiderable business interests. Five years later, a new album was released to a relieved public and went straight to number 1 virtually worldwide. The following month, with fans still jubilant at Lennon's return, he was suddenly brutally murdered by a gunman outside his apartment building in Manhattan. Almost from the moment that Lennon's heart stopped in the Roosevelt Hospital the whole world reacted in unprecedented mourning, with scenes usually reserved for royalty and world leaders. His records were re-released and experienced similar sales and chart positions to that of the Beatles" heyday. While all this happened, one could "imagine" Lennon calmly looking down on us, watching the world's reaction, and having a huge celestial laugh.


Lennon had a brilliant sense of humour and a deeply romantic heart. He could be cruel and unbelievably kind; he could love you one minute and destroy you with his tongue a few minutes later. Opinions as to his character are subjective. What is undeniable, is that the body of songs he created with Paul McCartney is the finest popular music catalogue ever known. His composition "Imagine" was voted one of the songs of the millennium, and for many of us has more power and meaning than any national anthem.



John Lennon

Out of all the Beatles, John Lennon had the most interesting — and frustrating — solo career. Lennon was capable of inspired, brutally honest confessional songwriting and melodic songcraft; he also had a tendency to rest on his laurels, churning out straight-ahead rock & roll without much care. But the extremes, both in his music and his life, were what made him fascinating. Where Paul McCartney was content to be a rock star, Lennon dabbled in everything from revolutionary politics to the television talk-show circuit during the early '70s. After releasing a pair of acclaimed albums, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, in the early '70s, Lennon sunk into an infamous "lost weekend" where his musical output was decidedly uneven and his public behavior was often embarassing. Halfway through the decade, he sobered up and retired from performing to become a house-husband and father. In 1980, he launched a comeback with his wife Yoko Ono, releasing the duet album Double Fantasy that fall. Just as his career was on an upswing, Lennon was tragically assassinated outside of his New York apartement building in December of 1980. He left behind an enormous legacy, not only as a musician, but as a writer, actor and activist.

Considering the magnitude of his achievements with the Beatles, Lennon's solo career is relatively overlooked. Even during the height of Beatlemania, Lennon began exploring outside of the group. In 1964, he published a collection of his writings called In His Own Write, which was followed in 1965 by A Spaniard in the Works, and in 1966, he appeared in Dick Lester's comedy How I Won the War. He didn't pursue a musical career outside of the group until 1968, when he recorded the experimental noise collage Unfinished Music, No. 1: Two Virgins with his new lover, avant-garde artist Yoko Ono. Two Virgins caused considerable controversy, both because of its content and its cover art, which featured a nude photograph of Lennon and Ono. The couple married in Gibraltar in March 20, 1969. For their honeymoon, the pair staged the first of many political demonstrations with their "Bed-In for Peace" at the Amsterdam Hilton. Several months later, the avant garde records Unfinished Music, No. 2: Life with the Lions and The Wedding Album were released, as was the single "Give Peace a Chance," which was recorded during the Bed-In. During September of 1969, Lennon returned to live performances with a concert at a Toronto rock & roll festival. He was supported by the Plastic Ono Band, which featured Ono, guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist Klaus Voormann and drummer Alan White. The following month, Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band released "Cold Turkey," which was about his battle with heroin addiction. When the single failed to make the Top Ten in Britain and America, Lennon sent his MBE back to the Queen, protesting Britain's involvement in Biafra, America's involvement in Vietnam and the poor chart performence of "Cold Turkey."

Before the release of "Cold Turkey," Lennon had told the Beatles that he planned to leave the group, but he agreed not to publicly announce his intentions until after Allen Klein's negotiations with EMI on behalf of the Beatles were resolved. Lennon and Ono continued with their campaign for peace, spreading billboards with the slogan "War Is Over! (If You Want It)" in 12 separate cities. In February of 1970, he wrote, recorded and released the single "Instant Karma" within the span of the week. The single became a major hit, reaching the Top Ten in both the U.K. and the U.S. Two months after "Instant Karma," Paul McCartney announced that the Beatles were splitting up, provoking the anger of Lennon. Much of this anger was vented on his first full-fledged solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, a scathingly honest confessional work inspired by his and Ono's primal scream therapy. Lennon supported the album with an extensive interview with Rolling Stone, where he debunked many of the myths surrounding the Beatles. Early in 1971, he released another protest single, "Power to the People," before moving to New York. That fall, he released Imagine, which featured the Top Ten title track. By the time Imagine became a hit album, Lennon and Ono had returned to political activism, publically supporting American radicals like Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and John Sinclair. Their increased political involvement resulted in the double-album Sometime in New York City, which was released in the summer of 1972. Recorded with the New York hippie band Elephant's Memory, Sometime in New York City consisted entirely of political songs, many of which were criticized for their simplicity. Consequently, the album sold poorly and tarnished Lennon's reputation.

Sometime in New York City was the beginning of a three-year downward spiral for Lennon. Shortly before the album's release, he began his long, involved battle with US Immigration, who refused to give him a green card due to a conviction for marijuna possession in 1968. In 1973, he was ordered to leave America by Immigration, and he launched a full-scale battle against the department, frequently attacking them in public. Mind Games was released in late 1973 to mixed reviews; its title track became a moderate hit. The following year, he and Ono separated, and he moved out to Los Angeles, beginning his year-and-a-half long "lost weekend." During 1974 and 1975, Lennon lived a life of debauchery in Los Angeles, partying hard with such celebrities as Elton John, Harry Nilsson, Keith Moon, David Bowie and Ringo Starr. Walls and Bridges appeared in November of 1974, and it became a hit due to the inclusion of "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," a song he wrote with Elton John. At the end of the year, John helped reunite Lennon and Ono, convincing the ex-Beatle to appear during one of his concerts; it would be Lennon's last performance.

Rock & Roll, a collection of rock oldies recorded during the lost weekend, was released in the spring of 1975. A few months before its official release, a bootleg of the album called Roots was released by Morris Levy, who Lennon later sued successfully. Lennon's immigration battle neared its completion on October 7, 1975, when the US court of appeals overturned his deportation order; in the summer of 1976, he was finally granted his green card. After he appeared on David Bowie's Young Americans, co-writing the hit song "Fame," Lennon quietly retired from music, choosing to become a house-husband following the October birth of his son, Sean Lennon.

During the summer of 1980, Lennon returned to recording, signing a new contract with Geffen Records. Comprised equally of material by Lennon and Ono, Double Fantasy was released in November to positive reviews. As the album and its accompanying single, "(Just Like) Starting Over," were climbing the charts, Lennon was assassinated on December 8 by Mark David Chapman. Lennon's death inspired deep grief from the entire world; on December 14, millions of fans around the world participated in a ten-minute silent vigil for Lennon at 2 p.m. EST. Double Fantasy and "(Just Like) Starting Over" both became number one hits in the wake of his death. In the years after his death, several albums of unreleased recordings appeared, the first of which was 1984's Milk and Honey; perhaps the most substantial was the 1998 four-disc box set Anthology, issued in conjunction with a single-disc sampler titled Wonsaponatime.

By Richie Unterberger


John Lennon In Quotes

“I don’t intend to be a performing flea any more. I was the dream weaver, but although I’ll be around I don’t intend to be running at 20,000 miles an hour trying to prove myself. I don’t want to die at 40.”

“I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically – any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn’t express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace.”

“Everything’s the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.”

“My defences were so great. The cocky rock and roll hero who knows all the answers was actually a terrified guy who didn’t know how to cry. Simple.”

“Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.”

“People always got the image I was an anti-Christ or antireligion. I’m not. I’m a most religious fellow. I was brought up a Christian and I only now understand some of the things that Christ was saying in those parables. Because people got hooked on the teacher and missed the message. All this bit about electing a president. We pick our own daddy out of a dog pound of daddies.”

“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”

“You can’t cheat kids. If you cheat them when they’re children they’ll make you pay when they’re 16 or 17 by revolting against you or hating you or all those so-called teenage problems. I think that’s finally when they’re old enough to stand up to you and say, ‘what a hypocrite you’ve been all this time. You’ve never given me what I really wanted, which is you.’”

“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.” “I think the basic thing nobody asks is why do people takes drugs of any sort? And that question has to be resolved before you can think, well, what can we do for the poor drug addict? Why do we have to have these accessories to normal living to live? I mean, is there something wrong with society that’s making us so pressurized, that we cannot live without guarding ourselves against it?”

“The only time we took drugs was when we were without hope and the only way we got out of it was with hope and if we can sustain the hope then we don’t need drugs, liquor or anything. But if we lose hope, what can you do? What is there to do?”

“We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.”

“When you’re drowning, you don’t say ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,’ you just scream.”

“You have to be a bastard to make it, and that’s a fact. And the Beatles are the biggest bastards on Earth.”

“Now, in the sixties we were naive, like children. Everybody went back to their rooms, and said, ‘We didn’t get a wonderful world of just flowers and peace and happy chocolate, and it won’t be just pretty and beautiful all the time,’ and just like babies everyone went back to their rooms and sulked. ‘We’re going to stay in our rooms and play rock and roll and not do anything else, because the world’s a horrible place, because it didn’t give us everything we cried for.’ Right?…well, crying for it wasn’t enough. The thing the sixties did was show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.”

“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”

“You’re just left with yourself all the time, whatever you do anyway. You’ve got to get down to your own God in your own temple. It’s all down to you, mate.”

“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”

John Winston Ono Lennon's
Family History and Early Years

Fred Lennon

Alfred (Fred) Lennon was the father of the famous Beatle John Lennon. Fred Lennon aged 16 years married John's mother Julia aged 15 years at the Mount Pleasant register Office, Liverpool on December 3, 1938. Fred ended up getting a good paying job on an American Cruise Ship Liner as a stewart. He was rarely home and young Julia was responsible to raise their son John and maintain the household. The relationship between John’s parents quickly began to sour from early 1943 when Freddie returned home on leave and noticed a change in his wife. Julia being so young and alone, started going out and drinking heavily. In July of that year Freddie was off to sea again. The marriage after this point was destroyed. Fred come back home to Liverpool and convinced Julia to allow him to take John on a holiday to Blackpool. Fred tried to persuade his son to leave the country with him and start a new life in New Zealand. John was in the middle of a parental struggle. John ended up choosing his father, however Julia did everything in her power to persuade her son differently. John inevitably chose his mother and Fred went away not seeing his son until 1957. Fred returned to see his son when Julia was hit by a car and killed instantly. Fred tried again to rekindle a relationship with his son. After a 17-year absence John declined because he felt that his father was trying to take advantage of his stardom. Alfred died on April 1, 1979 at the age of 63.

John's father Fred Lennon grew up without any parents. Fred never knew his mother and his father Jack Lennon died in 1921 when Fred was only nine years old. Jack Lennon was born in Dublin but lived for a long period in America as a professional singer in Kentucky Minstrels. Jack Lennon went back to England in 1910 and got soon after married and started a family in Liverpool. Their first and only child Fred Lennon, was born in 1912 and his mother died shortly after. In 1921 when his father died he was put in the orphanage Liverpool Bluecoat School. By the age of 15 Fred left the orphanage with two new suits and, according to Fred, a good education. Fred's first job was as an office clerk.

Julia Elizabeth Stanley

John's mother Julia Elizabeth Stanley was born 12 March 1914 just five months before First World War. Liverpool was then a big and growing city with a huge harbor. Julia Stanley was child number four out of five children of George Ernest Stanley and Annie Millward. George Stanley who also was called POP was born in 1874. He started his career at sea but settled later down in Liverpool to be an insurance inspector. He married Annie Millward around 1904. Their first two children died before they reached three years. In 1906 Mary Elizabeth Stanley (called Mimi) was born who later became like a mother for John Lennon. Elizabeth Stanley was born in 1910, Anne Georgia Stanley was born in 1912 and finally Harriet Stanley who was born in 1916.

Mimi Stanley got married with George Smith but they never had any children of their own.

Fred Lennon & Julia Stanley

The first time Fred Lennon ever met Julia Stanley was only one week after had left the orphanage. The meeting took place in Sefton Park. Fred was sitting on a bench with a friend who was showing him how to pick up girls. Fred had bought himself a cigarette holder and a bowler hat to impress the girls. They had their eyes on a little girl and as they walked past her she said "You look silly" and Fred answered "You look lovely." The girl was Julia Stanley.

After Fred had been working in an office for some time he left the job to become a bell boy on one of the many ships that sailed from and to Liverpool. It didn't take long before he was promoted to cook. Every time he was ashore during approximately ten years he would date Julia. One day Julia proposed to Fred. In Hunter Davies book Fred tells: 'Me and Julia used to play and sing together. We'd have been the tops today. One day she said to me, "Let's go and get married." I said we had to put the banns up and do it properly. She said, "I bet you won't." So I did, just for a joke. It was all a big laugh, getting married.'

The Stanley family didn't think it was any fun at all though. Everybody agreed that Fred was a good-looking man but they also thought that he was no good for Julia. The wedding took place on Mount Pleasant Register Office on 3 December 1938. They had planned to meet outside the Adelphi Hotel at ten o'clock. When Fred arrived there, Julia was not in sight. After he had been waiting for a while he called Trocadero cinema, where Julia usually spent most of her time. Nobody there had seen anything to Julia. Just when Fred was about to give up waiting for her, she finally came. No family was present during the wedding and after a short honeymoon at the Trocadero cinema Fred left for a three-month trip to West India.

John Winston Lennon

Julia Lennon lived at home in the next two years and when Fred Lennon was ashore he also lived there. During the summer of 1940 Julia discovered that she was pregnant. Liverpool was being bombed heavily by the Germans and nobody knew where in the world Fred was. On the 9 October 1940 Julia was brought to Maternity Hospital in Oxfortstreet where she had John Winston Lennon at 6:30. It was Julia's sister Mimi Smith who gave him the name John Winston. The Winston part was inspired by Winston Churchill.

Every month for the last two years Julia had collected some of Fred's salary at the shipping office. Eighteen months after she gave birth to John Lennon, she was told that Fred no longer worked for the company he used to. Nobody knew where he was and therefor she could get no money. It wasn't until many years later that they heard anything from him. One year later (when it was possible for Julia without Fred being home) Julia and Fred got separated. Fred's story about what happened is like this. He was in New York when USA got into the Second World War. He was therefor told that he would be transferred to a Liberty Boat. This was OK for Fred but when he found out that he would loose his rank he refused. Fred demanded to be a waiter at Queen Mary and was therefor arrested and sent to North Africa. When he arrived, he was sent to jail for three months. According to Fred he had been sending lovely letters to Julia but she never received any.

After the separation Julia continued to live at home but had a rather wild nightlife. In 1944 two years after her separation she met a young military man with whom she fell in love. Shortly after they separated and once again she was pregnant. The child, who was a girl, was after George Stanleys advice adopted shortly after the birth on 19 June 1945. Nobody knows today where this child grew up other than it was somewhere in Norway. After the adoption Julia got a job at a cafe on Penny Lane. It was here that Julia in 1945 met John Dykins. They fell in love and moved in together in a small apartment in Gateacre, Liverpool. The Stanley family was also against this relationship.

Julia Lennon, Fred Lennon or Mimi Smith

Mimi Smith didn't think that Julia was capable to raise a child and went to Julia to tell her that she wanted to have John to come and live with her but Julia didn't want to let go of him. Then Mimi got hold of a social adviser, together they went home to Julia. Because the apartment was so small that John couldn't have his own room, Julia was told that she either should get a bigger apartment or let John live with Mimi and George. Julia and John Dykins could not afford a bigger apartment so John moved in with Mimi.

Not long after John had moved in with Mimi and George Smith John's father Fred Lennon called and said that he wanted to have John with him on a vacation to Blackpool. What he didn't tell was that his real plans were to immigrate to New Zealand with John. Mimi could not refuse that he wanted to spend a weekend with his son so she let him go. But as soon as John's mother Julia Lennon heard that Fred had picked up John she knew that something was wrong. She rushed down to Blackpool found Fred and demanded that she got John back. Fred then asked John with whom he wanted to stay. At first he chose Fred but just as Julia was about to walk a way he ran over to her. Julia did however not keep John but send him back to Mimi. This was the last time until 1968 when John had been famous for six years that Fred spoke to John.

John Lennon and Mimi Smith

The upbringing that Mimi Stanley gave John was strict and firm. Mimi never used violence, which she thought was a weakness, but would rather shout at or ignore him. John hated to be ignored and would do anything to avoid coming into that situation.

Mimi thought that children should not have too much fun so the only time she went out with John was in December when they went to watch a Walt Disney film. And in the summer when they went to Strawberry Fields for the annual garden party at the Army Children. If John wanted anything besides from these two events he had to go to his Uncle George Stanley. Until he aged 14 he would get 5 shillings a week but he could earn some more if he worked for Mimi in the house or for George in the garden.

Mimi did all she could not let John and his mother meet each other. She thought it was best for him not to be confused by the rather strange settings he growing up in. She therefore arranged it in such a way that John's mother Julia Stanley would visit while John was at school or out with his uncle. But John had an idea about what was going on. He could remember some of the time he spent with his mother and the few times Julia would visit while John was at home he would be sent to his room.

Already from a early age John loved singing and spent much of his time listening to the radio. He had problems memorizing the words of the songs that he heard but would instead make up his own something he continued to do until he met Paul McCartney. His favorite songs when he was little were "Wee Willy Winkie" and "Let Him Go, Let Him Carry".

When John later looked back on his life he found his years with Mimi and George, as some of the best years of his life despite of Mimi's rather untraditional child upbringing.

John Lennon at Dovedale Primary

The first school John ever went to was Dovedale Primary. It was the same school that George Harrison some years later also attended. After just five months he had with a little help from his uncle George Smith learned to read and write. He soon began to write small stories. It evolved to small books. A series of books was called "Sport, Speed and Illustrated. Edited and Illustrated by J. W. Lennon." They each ended with "If you liked this one, come again next week it'll be even better." He would also write a lot of crazy poems. When they got too personal he would write them in handwriting that only he could read. He would later write two books, which was a development of these early poems. His own favorite book was Alice In Wonderland.

The first days John went to Dovedale Primary Mimi Smith insisted to follow him to school but it didn't take long before John insisted to go alone. For a long time she would spy on him when he went to school. She was very protective and didn't want him to play with common boys. One day when Mimi was walking down the street she saw a group of boys gathered around a fight. Mimi thought "Just like those common scruffs." As the fight ended, she saw that one of the fighting boys was John. Mimi didn't like the character that John got in school. He always wanted to be the boss, had his own gang and was always involved in fights.

In Hunter Davies book John tells:

'The sort of gang I led went in for things like shoplifting and pulling girls' knickers down. When the bomb fell and everyone got caught, I was always the one they missed. I was scared at the time but Mimi was always the only parent who never found out.'

Although he was fighting a lot he always knew when he had a chance to win or when he had to use other means. When he thought that a competitor was too big he used psychological means instead. Through all of his life John had a way with words which could hurt any opponent much more that he could with his fists. It was seldom easy for people to get John against them. For most people the only thing to do was either not to confront him or just to turn the other cheek.

Ivan Vaughan and Pete Shotton were full-time members of John's gang and his best friends. Pete and Ivan were also the only friends that Mimi accepted and wanted in her house.

While he went at Dovedale Primary he also went to Sunday school and continued until he became a teenager. He was confirmed when he was 15. He also for a brief period of time sang in the church choir of St. Peter in Woolton, Liverpool.

The reunion of John and Julia Lennon - The first guitar

Julia's uncertified marriage with John Dykins continued happily while John was living with Mimi and in 1946 Julia was again pregnant. Because of the limited space in their apartment they moved back in with Julia's father who now lived alone. The child was born on March 5th 1947. It was a girl and she was named Julia Dykins after her mother. Julia's farther George Stanley died just when she was pregnant with her fourth child (the second with John Dykins) in 1949. John Dykins and Julia could not afford to continue to live in the big house and it had to be sold. They then moved into the somewhat smaller house in Springwood Estate, Liverpool very close to Mimi and George Smith's house where John lived. Julia's fourth child was born on October 26th 1949 it was a girl and she was named Jacqui Dykins.

Meanwhile John found out that Julia was his real mother and where she lived. Without Mimi knowing of it John began re-establishing his relationship with his mother. He saw here not like a mother but rather like a really good friend. When Mimi found out that John spent most of his spare time at Julia's house she didn't like it but now when John was almost 10 years old she didn't feel it was right to interfere. The relationship between John and Julia was perfect. Julia was very young at heart and had much the same sense of humor as John. Julia was also very fond of music. John's father Fred Lennon had taught her to play the banjo and now she taught John. The first song John learned on the banjo was Buddy Holly's That'll Be The Day. Julia was a perfectionist and didn't stop until he had learned all chords and would help him write the correct words down.

After some time it was not only John that enjoyed to be together with Julia. Soon after also John's best friends Pete Shotton and Ivan Vaughan spend most of their time with his mother.

It didn't take long before John wanted a guitar. Because Julia wouldn't interfere too much in the life that Mimi wanted John to lead she wouldn't give him a guitar but encouraged him to ask Mimi to get him one. John knew if there should be any chance that she would give him one he would have to go to his Uncle George first. George had for many years ago given him a cheap mouth organ. On a bus trip to Scotland he drove everybody mad with it but the bus driver told him that he could hear he had talent and said that if he would come to the bus terminal the next day then he would give him a brand new one. John was at the bus terminal early the next morning and collected his brand new mouth organ. John played mouth organ regularly for many years and also on some of the first The Beatles recordings.

It didn't take John long to convince George that he needed a guitar and in the end Mimi and John went out to buy a used guitar.

John Lennon at Quarry Bank High School 1952-1957

John started in September 1952 in Quarry Bank High School. The school was founded in 1922 and was rated just as highly as The Liverpool Institute where Paul McCartney and George Harrison started a few years later. Of John's best friends from Dovendale Primary Pete Shotton and Ivan Vaughan only Pete started on Quarry Bank High School. Ivan went to Liverpool Institute. It wasn't because his parents thought it was a better school that Quarry Bank but because they wanted him to get as far away from John as possible so he could concentrate more on his studies. At Liverpool Institute Ivan met Paul McCartney and later introduced him to John.

John was not at all glad that he had to go to high school. He had just fought his way to the top on Dovendale Primary and now he was the little one once again. It didn't however take him long to become the leader of a new little gang. It didn't take him long to get in trouble with the teachers either and soon after he was well known at the office of the headmaster.

Though Pete and John were best friends, they was not completely alike. Pete was good at mathematics, which John hated and John was good in art class. John didn't like that Pete was better than him and tried to ruin it for him by sending obscene drawings to him in the class room which would make Pete laugh and get him sent to the headmaster.

At home John tried to conceal how things were going. He went from home in the clothing that Mimi wanted him to wear but he always changed a few blocks away. When John first fell down on B-level and then down on C-level, Mimi knew that something wasn't right. John himself was happy with B-level because the he wasn't a mummy's boy but he didn't like to be called stupid either.

While his grades became worse and worse Mimi became harder on him. When Mimi was really angry with him John could always find comfort at his Uncle George or his mother Julia. Although George wasn't his father he looked upon him as one. It therefore came as a big shock for John when George Stanley suddenly died on June 5, 1955 following a liver disease.

During John's fifth and last year at Quarry Bank High School, John got a new head master Mr. Pobjoy. Mr. Pobjoy quickly saw how big a troublemaker John was but he could also (as the only one) see what John was good at. He therefore decided to do all he could to get him into Liverpool Art College after high school but when he flunked all his O-levels John could get directly into art college. It was only because Mr. Pobjoy made a special recommendation after he had talked to Mimi that he was accepted.

It was also during John's years at Quarry Bank High School that he formed his first band The Quarry Men.

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..."

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