By: Cindy Annis – August, 2018
Let’s get right into John as there is so much to say and less space to say it. John was born John Winston Lennon on October 9, 1940. He was named after a grandparent and Winston Churchill. His mom was Julia, and his dad was a merchant seaman named Alfred. His dad was away when John was born and he was away a lot during the beginning of John’s life, but the checks came into the family and things were cool, until the day the checks stopped and Alfred went AWOL. By the time he finally showed up, about six months later, Julia was already with someone else and told Alfred the marriage was done. There was a lot of nasty family problems and Julia’s sister, Mimi, thought social services should get involved and they made Julia give John up to her. Alfred was secretly taking John out of the area but Julia found out and followed. They fought and finally Alfred left and John went back to Mimi’s to live. John didn’t see Alfred for another twenty years. Mimi and Uncle George kept John and Julia would visit often.
Julia would visit John and would play different types of music for him to enjoy. Of course, Elvis was in there. She also taught John how to play the banjo. His first song was “Ain’t That A Shame,” by Fats Domino.
As for religion, he was raised Anglican. In school, John passed the 11+ Exam and went to Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool. He didn’t do very well with his academics, but he was quite the artist and class comedian. At about the age of 16 Julia bought John his 1st guitar. He had to promise to keep it at her house as her sister wanted John to work harder in school and get off the music for a while.
Julia was accidentally killed after being struck by a car while walking home from visiting John. He was 17 years old. This isn’t good for any young boy. He failed his exams, but with the help of his aunt and his headmaster they got him into the Liverpool College of Art. Because of his unwillingness to conform and his disruptive behavior, he was thrown out before the last year.
John had gotten himself into the “skiffle” craze when he was about 15 years old. He met Paul McCartney and they were in a group called the Quarrymen. They played some skiffle and also tried to play rock and roll. Paul knew George Harrison and we all know about the upper deck bus audition. So, John invited George to join the group. Neither family liked each other as Aunt Mimi thought they were all lower class, and Paul’s father thought Paul would get into all kinds of trouble hanging around with this lot. A friend of John’s from school was Stuart Sutcliff. He was asked to join the group on bass.
So, these four young men were the earliest form of “The Beatles” in 1960.
Hold the phone!! Didn’t something else happen in there somewhere? What about Cynthia Powell? Cynthia was a friend of John’s from school. She had it bad for John well before the Beatles or the Quarrymen. They dated and got heavily involved. She even went to some of the Hamburg gigs. He found out she was pregnant in 1962. So, he thought they should get married. August 23rd was their marriage date and John was performing that night. With the Beatle craze going on Brian Epstein thought it would be best to keep this under wraps for a while. Julian was born April 8, 1963. John wasn’t even there for the birth as he was on tour. He met his son when he was already three days old.
As with Ringo Starr and George Harrison, I am not going further, here, into the Beatles as this column is on John Lennon and The Beatles will be shortly in the future.
John split up with the Beatles in September of 1969. There had been lots of rumors, but John was done and no one knew for almost a year. John had a lot of irons on the coals, though. “How I Won The War” was in cinemas in 1967 and featured John Lennon. In 1968 he was in “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.” The movie wasn’t released until 1996, though. John and Yoko Ono were married on March 20, 1969. John took Ono as his second middle name at this time. They started making music together and before long they had formed “The Plastic Ono Band, in 1969. They did “Live Peace In Toronto” and John went on to do, “Give Peace A Chance,” and “Cold Turkey” which was about his heroin addiction and withdrawal symptoms. He also released “Instant Karma”. They did all this in just 2 years. 1969, and 1970 were very busy for these two.
In 1970 John’s first solo album came out. It was called “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.” Although many critics liked it and expressed themselves clearly, there were others who thought it really wasn’t for the public so much as it was John expressing his rejection of certain social systems and government standings on so many issues. Some of the language he used was offensive and broadcasters were already deciding not to play it. There were good points about it. One critic named Greil Marcus said, “John’s singing in the last verse of “God” may be the finest in all of rock.”
I am hoping you will enjoy this Part One enough to check out Part Two next month!! I have to stop at this point, so we can get into John’s real stuff on the next installment of “In The Groove With Cindy Annis.” You can hear John’s music when you listen to Cindy’s Vinyl Vault. Remember, we play the best music ever recorded on vinyl. We’re at 980 WCAP Radio every Sunday night at 10:00, Monday night at 11:00 and Wednesday night at 10:00, and remember folks, it’s not how old it is, but how great it sounds!