Well, I'm certainly not gonna make any friends with this particular blog post. I may even lose some regular readers. But before I get into the gist of this post, I wish to justify my narrative with something of a disclaimer.
On December 8, 1980, I was with my friend Sam at a Bruce Springsteen concert at the storied Spectrum, the self-proclaimed "America's Showplace," in Philadelphia. We were rocking and punching our fists to the sky in unison with our fellow Springsteen fans as "The Boss" poured his rock-and-roll heart out in a balls-to-the-wall rendition of Mitch Ryder's "Devil With a Blue Dress." Those in attendance that night were totally unaware that one hundred miles up the New Jersey Turnpike, John Lennon, the impish and sardonic Beatle, was being shot to death outside his apartment building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. When the concert was over, Sam and I popped an 8-track tape of Springsteen tunes into the player that was amateurishly-installed under the dashboard console of my Mom's '72 Plymouth Fury. We headed to a diner for a late-night snack. I didn't find out the dreadful news until I arrived home and my parents were still awake. They greeted me at the front door and broke it to me in much the same way Howard Cosell broke it to America during Monday Night Football. I heard my parents' report through concert-weary ears. I shuffled up the stairs to bed. I had just started art school a month or so earlier and had to wake up by 6 a.m. to catch a bus. The next morning, I awoke with only a vague memory of the conversation with my parents. As part of my regular routine, I bought a newspaper to read on my long commute to school. The headline screamed "John Lennon Slain." As I sat silently on the bus, reading the accompanying story, I could feel tears rolling down my cheeks. I didn't even wipe them away. I just continued reading the account of the events outside the grand Dakota the previous evening. I glanced around the bus a few times. I wasn't the only one who was crying. I grew up loving the Beatles and I felt as though a piece of me was taken away.
See, I actually cried when John Lennon died. Remember that.
However, John Lennon — snide and sarcastic counterpart to perennially sunny band mate and collaborator Paul McCartney — was kind of a dick. Stories of abhorrent incidents have surfaced over the years, some reinforced by the Liverpudlian singer himself. His extremely revealing and sometimes brazen interview in Playboy, just a few months before his life was cut short at 40*, offered a personal insight into the superstar's life — and heretofore furtive past.
Here are some things about John Lennon that you may not know:
- He admitted to a sexual attraction to his mother.
- He hated when disabled fans in wheelchairs were placed stage-side during Beatles performances. He was very vocal about how much he disliked this.
- He cheated on both of his wives.
- He physically abused both of his wives.
- John Lennon notoriously hated to be touched. When actress Jayne Mansfield once touched his shoulder at a party, Lennon urinated in her drink and served it to her.
- The chorus of the Lennon-penned song "Run For Your Life" is autobiographical. (You better run for your life if you can, little girl / Hide your head in the sand little girl / Catch you with another man That's the end, little girl)
- He insisted that Yoko Ono accompany him everywhere, including band rehearsals and to the bathroom. She protested, but he was adamant.
- He beat the shit out of an acquaintance for alluding to a homosexual relationship between Lennon and Beatles' openly-gay manager Brian Epstein. (In the fade-out of "Baby, You're a Rich Man," Lennon sings "Baby, you're a rich fag Jew.")
- Once when his infant son Julian giggled, John told the child, "Your fucking laugh annoys me." He also frequently hit Julian. In the Playboy interview, he bluntly stated the difference between his two sons, Julian and Sean: “Sean was a planned child, and therein lies the difference. I don’t love Julian any less as a child. He’s still my son, whether he came from a bottle of whiskey or because they didn’t have pills in those days. He’s here, he belongs to me, and he always will…Julian and I will have a relationship in the future.” Julian revealed that Paul McCartney was more of a father to him than Lennon.
- In the beloved song "Imagine," Lennon sings: "Imagine no possessions." Twenty years later, singer Elvis Costello (not such a great guy in his own right) sang: "Was it a millionaire who said 'imagine no possessions'"? Paul McCartney often said that Lennon was a hypocrite.
There you have it. Please feel free to research any of these examples of John Lennon's crass and callous behavior. But while you're Googling my allegations, remember... I cried when John Lennon died.
All I am saying is "Give me a chance."
*The interview took place in September 1980, but was not published until the January 1981 issue.