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John Lennon

The Beatles were John Lennon’s band, he put them together and was their leader and cheerleader. When John Lennon shouted  ”Where are we going boys?” the others would reply  “To the Toppermost of the Poppermost, Johnny”. He made the big decisons and sang the bulk of the lead vocals. At one point the band was even called Johnny and the Moondogs, thankfully it was later early-john-lennon-244x300changed to the Beatles. On the Fab Four’s A Hard Days Night  soundtrack album John wrote 10 of the 13 songs credited to Lennon/McCartney. John’s wit and sarcasm became a defining trademark of the band during the Beatles concerts (and on a number of occasions got the band in a little bit of hot water), interviews and most famously the Beatles press conferences.

He was an artist with words, both for poetry and songwriting, and an excellent sketch artist who’s work is immediately recognizable around the art world and the Beatle Community. See some of his artwork here.

 

Although unable to read music, and not very technically proficient, John Lennon could see the most beautiful melodies in his head and then produce the perfect words to go with them. Check out the melody in “Ask Me Why”, “A Day In the Life” and “Norwegian Wood” for proof.

 

I was always envious of his ability to create something incredibly articulate out of ‘jabberwocky’. To me he is one of the most gifted, artists and one the greatest composers of the 20th century.

 

As we all know, his life ended prematurely and tragically in, of all places…my hometown, New York. I’d hung out at the Dakota hoping to meet him and checked out Upper West Side pubs in his neighborhood but was never fortunate enough to bump into him.

 

On this page you’ll find In His Words on a number of Beatles songs and subjects plus John Lennon’s Biography and a video of the Beatles doing “I Wanna Be Your Man.”

John Lennon – In His Own Words
John on In My Life:

It was the 1st song I wrote that was consciously about my life. (sings) “There are places I’ll remember…all my life though some have changed…” Before, we were just writing songs a’ la the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly- pop songs with no more thought to them than that. The words were almost irrelevant. In My Life started out as a bus journey from my house at 250 Menlove Avenue to town, mentioning all the places I could recall. I wrote it all down and it was boring. So I forgot about it and laid back and these lyrics started coming to me about friends and lovers of the past. Paul helped with the middle eight.

John Lennon – In 1960 – John’s Story of The Beatles

From Bill Harry- Editor of Mersey Beat Magazine

In 1960 when I decided to found Mersey Beat and report on the local scene, I commissioned John to pen a short biography of the band. Some months later we were sitting in the Jacaranda when he handed it to me, shortly before the group set off on their second trip to Hamburg. It was something totally unexpected. its sheer wackiness delighted me. I immediately ordered him coffee and jam toast!

The piece appeared on page 2 of issue No. 1 published on July 6 1961. The humour of it appealed to me. it was the time of the Goons (who regularly said ‘you rotten swine’) and at Junior Art School I’d been involved with some friends in what we called the Natty Nut Society. I was also interested in the Nonsense Novels of Stephen Leacock.

As a result, I decided to print the biography as John had written it, without altering a single word. It had no title, so I made up the heading ‘Being A Short Diversion On The Dubious Origins Of Beatles (Translated From The John Lennon)’. And here it is:

Once upon a time there were three little boys called John, George and Paul, by name christened. They decided to get together because they were the getting together type. When they were together they wondered what for after all, what for? So all of a sudden they grew guitars and fashioned a noise. Funnily enough, no one was interested, least of all the three little men. So-o-o-o on discovering a fourth little even littler man called Stuart Sutcliffe running about them they said, quite ‘Sonny get a bass guitar and you will be alright’ and he did – but he wasn’t alright because he couldn’t play it. So they sat on him with comfort ’til he could play. Still there was no beat, and a kindly old man said, quote ‘Thou hast not drums!’ We had no drums! they coffed. So a series of drums came and went and came.

Suddenly, in Scotland, touring with Johnny Gentle, the group (called the Beatles called) discovered they had not a very nice sound – because they had no amplifiers. They got some.

Many people ask what are Beatles? Why Beatles? Ugh, Beatles, how did the name arrive? So we will tell you. It came in a vision – a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them ‘From this day on you are Beatles with an ‘A’. Thank you, mister man, they said, thanking him.

And then a man with a beard cut off said – will you go to Germany (Hamburg) and play mighty rock for the peasants for money? And we said we would play mighty anything for money.

But before we could go we had to grow a drummer, so we grew one in West Derby in a club called Some Casbah and his trouble was Pete Best. we called ‘Hello Pete, come off to Germany!’ ‘Yes!’ Zooooom. After a few months, Peter and Paul (who is called McArtrey, son of Jim McArtrey, his father) lit a Kino (cinema) and the German police said ‘Bad Beatles, you must go home and light your English cinemas’. Zooooom, half a group. But before even this, the Gestapo had taken my friend little George Harrison (of speke) away because he was only twelve and too young to vote in Germany; but after two months in England he grew eighteen and the Gestapoes said ‘you can come’. So suddenly all back in Liverpool Village were many groups playing in grey suits and Jim said ‘Why have you no grey suits?’ ‘We don’t like them, Jim’ we said, speaking to Jim.

After playing in the clubs a bit, everyone said ‘Go to Germany!’ So we are. Zooooom Stuart gone. Zoom zoom John (of Woolton) George (of Speke) Peter and Paul zoom zoom. All of them gone. Thank you club members, from John and George (what are friends).

John Lennon on I Wanna Be Your Man:

Paul and I finished that one off for the Stones. We were taken down by Brian to meet them at the club that they were playing in Richmond. They wanted a song and we went to see what kind of stuff they did. Paul had this bit of a song and we played it roughly for them and they said “Yeah, Ok, that’s our style.” But it was really only a lick, so Paul and I went off in the corner of the room and finished the song off while they were sitting there, talking. We came back and Mick and Keith said “Jesus, look at that, they just went over there and wrote it.” You know, right in front of their eyes. We gave it to then it was a throwaway. Ringo sang it for us and the Stones did their version. That was the Stones 1st record. Anyway, Mick & Keith said “If they can write a song so easily, we should try it.” They say it inspired them to start writing songs together.

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