The John Lennon Story

I don’t recall where I acquired The John Lennon Story by George Tremlett, but it probably was at a Beatles or record convention in the 1980’s. It was published in 1976 yet its Lennon life chronology at the end of the book concluded in February 1975, thus missing the birth of John’s second child, Sean, in October of that year. I found the biography an intelligent read as Tremlett is a prolific rock journalist as well as a (now former) Greater London councillor. As a reader of many Lennon biographies I was not bored by the same old story since Tremlett incorporated many interviews into the text, some of which I had never read before. Many of these were interviews he conducted himself or were the work of his assistants. Thus I got to see new perspectives from Lennon’s inner circle. Tremlett got a few facts wrong, many of which populated the final 55-page chronology. He listed every song title and release date of Lennon’s albums and some titles and dates were incorrect. I have wondered about this before: how can you get song titles incorrect when you’re merely copying them from an album sleeve? He was admirably sympathetic to Yoko Ono. He treated her art with respect and saw her as an intelligent woman:

“Her mind was questioning, uneasy, doubtful, penetrating; she had a facility with words and images–and she was also gentle-mannered, tender, and stunningly beautiful, tiny by his side, with silky black hair flowing loose over her shoulders.”

As my edition was a British imprint that meant the text was small and packed brick-thick on each page. The biography part of the book comprised the first 105 pages but that would be stretched out to double the length if it were a North American hardcover. In 1975 John had not yet taken his five-year retirement from the music industry so the perspective was entirely different than if this book had been written in the late seventies or even in 1980, after he came out of his house-husband child-rearing years. Of course the tone would have been entirely different had this book been published in 1981. I can’t imagine that there were many Lennon biographies from 1975 so for an account of John’s life up till then, when even he would have had no idea of his upcoming withdrawal from public life, I would recommend this biography. 

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