Lennon Legend: An Illustrated Life of John Lennon
Chronicle, 2003 (2003)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
his biography is clearly a labor of love, including as it does removable replications of memorabilia like sample artwork, film posters, and Lennon's scribbled corrections to songs, including the poignant '
' to his son Sean ('
I can hardly wait / to see you come of age
'). It's like having a personal scrapbook of the musician's life. James Henke introduces John Winston Lennon as the '
' behind the Beatles, the one who encouraged them all to strive to reach '
the toppermost of the poppermost
' as they re-defined rock-and-roll. Lennon himself described their 60s experiences as '
like being in the eye of a hurricane
e learn about the artist's early life, including his school obsession with his '
' instead of studies (a sample of his creative journal is enclosed). His mother loved music and taught him to play the banjo. John Lennon formed his first band, the
, in 1957, and Beatlemania began in 1963. Lennon published books at the same time as he was writing songs for the '
' and participating in the '
bloody tribal rites
' of Beatles concerts. He took a stand against the Vietnam war, became interested in transcendental meditation, married Yoko Ono and performed the famous
as a prelude to a series of political protests. He was living in New York when he was murdered in 1980.
his is a bit like a miniature museum exhibit in a box, including a 60-minute CD of various interviews with the musician. In them, John Lennon tells us that the '
world is too fast
', that the artist's job is to reflect what we all are, and that the 60s showed us possibilities. He comes across as a self-deprecating decent person, and the interviews culminate in his singing
. I recommend
as a unique tribute to a complex, creative dreamer who left an enduring legacy.
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