What has been left unsaid about John Lennon? The most imaginative story writer would be hard pressed to come up with a storyline much more amazing than that of Lennon’s. His saga was launched on October 9, 1940.
It seems like Lennon was destined to become a contrarian from his childhood on. The comment on one of his school report cards stated, “Certainly on the road to failure, hopeless, rather a clown in class, wasting other pupil’s time”.
After John’s mother bought him his first guitar, she knew that her sister, with whom John lived, did not approve of John’s musical ambitions. Aunt Mimi didn’t believe John’s claim that he was bound for fame and fortune. In fact she often said something to the effect of, “The guitar’s all very well, John, but you’ll never make a living out of it.”
After a tumultuous few terms of college, John was expelled from the “Liverpool College of Art”. He had failed an important annual examination despite help from his future wife Cynthia Powell.
There was some overlap with these events and the evolution of John’s skiffle band “The Quarrymen”. The story of the Beatles is an often told one, so I won’t retell or condense it here. Naturally, the fact that John’s claim to fame came from his collaboration with Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr from the late 1950s through the 1960s.
After the breakup of The Beatles, John’s well known, controversial solo musical career emerged. He also partnered with artists like Mick Jagger, Harry Nilsson, Elton John, Ringo Starr and his second wife Yoko Ono.
John’s intersection with the anti-war movement of the 1960s is well known and widely documented. One of his songs, “Give Peace A Chance”, was adopted popularly as the anti-war anthem. It was sung by over 250,000 protesters at the second Vietnam Moratorium Day at Washington D.C.
Because then President Richard Nixon believed that Lennon’s peace activities could threaten Nixon’s re-election chances, an attempt to deport Lennon was undertaken. The entire sordid affair is related in the posthumous documentary, “The U.S. vs. John Lennon”.
It was a cold, icy December 8th in 1980 here in Norfolk, Nebraska. I was keeping a close watch on the Associated Press newswire for weather and travel advisories. A news bulletin appeared at around 10pm Central Time/ 11pm Eastern Time saying briefly that John Lennon had been shot and had been transported to a New York hospital. Soon, more urgent stories cleared the wire service relaying news of Lennon’s death near the entrance of his apartment building “The Dakota”.
These were very difficult stories for me to read on the air. I just took some deep breaths, pinched myself, and delivered the news bulletins to my audience. It’s one of those events that carry a lot of historical impact. Many of us “boomers” can remember where we were and what we were doing the night we found out about John Lennon’s murder. I had to be one of the the bearers of the bad news.
I still remember that night clearly.
The Blue Jay of Happiness wonders if October nine was part of the inspiration for “Revolution Number Nine” on the White Album.