Friday, October 9, 2009

John Lennon: The Life

John Lennon: The Life
Antonio G. Pereira © 2009 Antonio G. Pereira

John Lennon: The Life, by Philip Norman, is quite a remarkable biography. Published by Ecco Books (an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishing), it is a massive work; 851 pages in length in it's entirety. There are two things that deserve mentioning: (1). I am not convinced by the picture, (of questionable sincerity) painted of Lennon's father Freddie Lennon, and (2). The author's (which I can only term as) happily ignorant additional portrayal, of John's paternal grandfather (also named John Lennon), who after arriving in America in the late 19th Century as an immigrant, and becoming a Blackfaced Minstrel, as something worthy of mention in the story of someone whose life was as meaningful as John Lennon's (and to whom, for some strange reason, the author continually makes comparisons); I find a little questionable also, in this, the 21st Century. This exercise ends up being a pointless distraction in the biography. That said, this is the type of book that is so well written, you just can't put it down. Philip Norman has really outdone himself, and surpassed his previous book on the Beatles, 'Shout! The Beatles In Their Generation'. (Although, if you want to read the best first hand account of what the Beatles were like as a group and individually, that would be Press Officer Tony Barrow's book, 'John, Paul, George, Ringo & Me: The Real Beatles Story'. Published by Thunder's Mouth Press {U.S. - an Imprint of Avalon Publishing Group, Inc.}, Andre Deutsch Limited {U.K. - an Imprint of Carlton Publishing Group.}) Here, you find John Lennon's life in greater detail than ever before. The only other book I can think of, which covered John's life in such detail, was the late British Journalist Ray Coleman's epic two volume work, 'Lennon: The Definitive Biography' (mentioned in my previous posting:

What you do get with John Lennon: The Life, is an expanded view of his relationships with his Mother Julia, and Father Alf (Freddie), Aunt Mimi and Uncle George (who became his Surrogate Parents), his Half-Sisters Julia and Jacqueline, Cousins (among them his favourite, Leila), assorted Aunts and Uncles, Liverpool College of Art Teacher, Arthur Ballard (who recognized and nurtured his talent as an Artist), friendships with Stuart Sutcliffe (and later, Actors Peter Cook, Victor Spinetti, Actress Eleanor Bron, and Journalist Maureen Cleave), his Wives, Cynthia Powell and Yoko Ono (and their Children, Julian and Sean), his Mother-In-Law Lilian Powell (for the first time you see the whole picture very clearly), Stuart Sutcliffe's Wife, Astrid Kirchherr, Brian Epstein (very clear picture here too), Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (fascinating to read, within it's layers of simple yet complex enlightenment, and ultimate disappointment), Dr. Arthur Janov (under whom John took Primal Therapy, which resulted with one of his best solo albums 'Plastic Ono Band, full of powerfully raw rock songs, and gorgeous love songs; as well as the 'Lennon Remembers' Rolling Stone Interviews, one of the longest and most detailed interviews he ever gave.), the other Beatles, various Musicians and Artists, Girlfriends (some known and some previously clandestine), and Business Associates.

I don't think it will get much better than Philip Norman's biography. You see Lennon as a complete three-dimensional human being. Covered from every angle, from birth to death. Good and bad. And done with great knowledge and respect.

It is well worth reading (especially on this, his birthday), and being reminded, why John Lennon, remains so important and unforgetable in people's lives, the world over.

Highly recommended reading.