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David K. Wright’s book, John Lennon: The Beatles and Beyond, is about the famous musician John Lennon. It tells about his days in his young age and how he started the british band. It goes into detail about how Lennon spent the rest of his days and how he made bad choices within his life.
The author uses multiple sources to gather information about the personal life of Lennon. Wright used biographies and interviews as his sources, as well as legends from this time. This gives the reader a basic sense of who Lennon was and what he achieved through his years of fame and music.
The story begins with a chapter elaborating on what the Beatles were. It talks about the variety of TV shows they were introduced into and the multiple items that were sold based on the Beatles. It now reveals a basic background of the group, including the fact that many people saw Lennon as mysterious. “McCartney… was cute, Starr was fun, and Harrison appeared to be quiet… Lennon remained a mystery”. It tells about the tv shows they’ve been on, the merchandise that’s been sold, and all the fangirls they acquired. It also gives information that Lennon was the only one married at that time. “John Lennon was the only married Beatle at the time, so his thoughts might have drifted to his wife, Cynthia, and his year-old-son, Julian”.
The story then continues into his school days, talking about his father Alfred Lennon and his mother Julia Stanley. Alfred, or Alf, was involved with the war. He “sailed away on ships carrying soldiers and supplies to or from Africa, Canada, and elsewhere”. His mother Julia worked as a theater attendant, and rarely received letters from her husband when war broke out. Then came a time when Julia had an unfortunate affair, causing her to become pregnant with a girl, Victoria Elizabeth. After Victoria was set up for adoption and taken in by a couple, Julia went to live with hotel waiter. Julia’s sister, Mimi, confronted Julia and persuaded her to give John to Mimi, since they were without children and she thought it would be better for John. After awhile, Alfred returned home and took John for several days. When they were found, John had to make a choice between either his mother or his father and remained with his father, only to feel guilty and quickly chose his mother.
Soon, John was enrolled into Dovedale Road Primary School before his fifth birthday. He already knew how to read and how to express himself. Although he was “as sharp as a needle”, he still got into trouble with teachers and led an “unruly pack of boys who could always be found by following their rude and noisy laughter”. When John wasn’t causing trouble, he did get involved in some school work. He “read almost anything, and spent a lot of time on his art-class drawings”. John passed the nationwide test and was able to continue past elementary school. When he was fourteen, John returned from a vacation in Scotland to receive the news on the death of his Uncle George. John, in his grief, decided to become closer with his mother, her two daughters, and her husband Dykins.
In 1957, Lennon was originally part of a band called the Black Jacks. Their first “gig” was on the back of a truck during a neighborhood block party. His group was given several job offers since John enjoyed the reward of playing as other musical groups wanted the money. Then, July 6, 1957, a young musician named Paul McCartney, became interested in Lennon’s group. McCartney impressed them with his knowledge of music and even offered to teach chords they didn’t know existed. John went to the movies when he wasn’t doing anything, and “picked up a number of cues from James Dean…”. John had often forgot part of his schooling while trying to learn more about music, which disappointed Aunt Mimi when he flunked a nation test that might have sent him to a major university. After John finished high school, he decided to gather his artwork and use it as an example to gain admission into the Liverpool College of Art. George Harrison, McCartney’s classmate, also went onto fame. Harrison was the third youngest Beatle and “was already into guitar music and Teddy Boy attire when John shifted from high school…to art college… “. John had become much closer to his mom at this time, and sometimes moved in with both her and Dykins. Then, on the night of July 15, 1958, Julia was hit by a car and died before she made it to the hospital.
John became troubled when his mother died, but a friend by the name of Stuart Sutcliffe was able to provide him comfort throughout his art classes. Soon, Sutcliffe was recruited into the band with little to no knowledge on music. John favored the lunch period as the trio often played for audiences. Lennon even caught feelings for a girl by the name of Cynthia Powell. Powell was a year older than Lennon and a quiet girl from a small town around Liverpool. Though he was attracted to her, he still hung out around several other girls as he was trying to learn more about Cynthia. John often sang Buddy Holly songs for her, and soon the two became inseparable.
The band “played in dark basement clubs with names like Casbah and Jacaranda”. They earned less than $10 per performance, but was pointed in the direction of “stardom” by Alan Williams, the owner of Jacaranda. “He mentioned that a London promoter would be holding auditions in Liverpool soon and that the group might want to perform”. Both Williams and Lennon argued over the name of the band and settled for the Silver Beetles. Though the band practiced non stop for the auditions, their attire was different from every other band. They wore turtlenecks, tight jeans, and tennis shoes while other bands wore suits. The Silver Beetles became the backup band for a singer named Johnny Gentle for two weeks in Scotland, making over $50 a week. After that, John decided to quit his college and focus on music. Tommy Moore, the drummer, quit the band and Alan Williams was there again to help the Silver Beetles. Williams booked them into a club in Hamburg, Germany, and acquired Peter Best as their new drummer along the way.
The Silver Beetles renamed themselves the Beatles and the city of Hamburg made them tougher. The band was able to repeat the same songs for hours besides other bands. The Beatles soon exchanged for a bigger club, the Kaiserkeller. There they met with another band named Rory and the Hurricanes. “The two bands hung around together, seeking out places where they could eat fish and chips and other English food and talk about music”. Ringo Starr, the drummer for the Hurricanes, soon joined the Beatles as their second drummer, while Sutcliffe fell in love with a German girl and left the band. Brian Epstein, a man who opened two highly successful record shops, had the courage to ask the Beatles if he could manage them. The Beatles agreed and for the next few years, Epstein “worked hard to keep the band in their shows… and nagged at them about the way they were dressed”. Then, on April 10, 1962, John received news that Sutcliffe had died. Lennon’s reaction to Sutcliffe’s death added to his title as the “hard man.”
In 1962, the Beatles were near success, having a breakthrough in 1963. Although the band suffered multiple setbacks, they confidently kept playing. Their first single, “Love Me Do” was recorded in September 1962 and released one month later. “It entered Britain’s most important list of hit records at the end of October and enjoyed considerable airplay”. Lennon later turned into a mess, telling the group that he had bad dandruff and had to shave it off soon, and scribbling his name on programs or papers while he was distracted with a television. Lennon grew “tired of meeting public officials as true fans were kept away and cameras clicked”. He came out to say that it was unfair that true fans were unable to get autographs as daughters of policemen got them all the time. McCartney spoke out and told Lennon he was bad for his image.
In London’s Evening Standard newspaper, 1966, John Lennon would say the words “We’re more popular than Jesus now,” haunting him for the rest of his life. Many Christians started to burn Beatles records, radio stations pulled nearly all of their songs off the air, and John received many death threats in the mail. The Beatles last performance, in front of an audience, was August 29, 1966. Their tour to the United States would be their third and last tour as a group. Lennon then got involved with the movie How I Won the War, excluding McCartney, Harrison, and Starr from the film. When John returned to London, from filming in Germany, he took Cynthia to a dinner party. LSD was slipped into their drinks, causing Lennon to not only take large amounts of said drug, but also consuming marijuana. Lennon often left home at night, and while visiting an art gallery, he met a girl named Yoko Ono. He caught feelings for Ono and soon filed for divorce with Cynthia on August 22, 1968. John agreed to support both Cynthia and his son Julian, but focused more with Ono because he thought that she brought out his artistic side.
After three miscarriages and Lennon giving up every drug, besides cigarettes, Sean Taro Ono was born on October 9, 1972. Ono had a dangerous delivery, needing a blood transfusion and a cesarean section. Then, in October 1973, Lennon and Ono split up. Yoko claimed that being married to a famous musician brought her distress, as Lennon said she just kicked him out. The two moved back in with each other after Elton John’s Thanksgiving Day concert.
A man by the name of Mark David Chapman, shot and killed Lennon, two bullets striking him in the back. Chapman was mentally disturbed and despised phonies, John Lennon, who “talked of peace, love, and revolution while living the life of a millionaire”. Chapman was also a security guard and had to learn how to handle a gun, since he sometimes carried one for his job. Although the ambulance came immediately, John was not able to be saved and died at the hospital. Many books were published about Lennon, as well as songs sung by famous artists. Although people respected him, some did not respect Ono. Ono had several scandalous books published about her that were exaggerated or untrue.
In conclusion, Lennon achieved many things, but thinking things through beforehand was not a talent he had. The book is a suggestion towards learning more about how Lennon tried to create peace and who gave us the Beatles.
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