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Memories of John Lennon

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    MEMORIES OF JOHN LENNON by Yoko Ono | Kirkus Reviews

    Subscribe to receive some of our best reviews, "beyond the book" articles, book club info, and giveaways by email. Memories of John Lennon is a rich and deeply felt appreciation of a truly great man. Newcomers to the Lennon legend might find some of the reminiscences and artwork in this compendium interesting and novel, but those alive in Lennon's time will recognize many of the quotes, especially the ones from Lennon's most famous friends, like Mick Jagger and Elton John.

    The most interesting essay apart from Yoko's own charmingly loopy introduction may be from the least famous person in the book: Cynthia O'Neal, Lennon's neighbor at the Manhattan landmark apartment building, the Dakota. Listen to all three versions Revolution 1, 2 and 9 then try again, dear John…. Tell me of one successful revolution. Who fucked up Communism…? Sick Heads and nothing else. Do you think all the enemy wear capitalist badges so that you can shoot them?

    And then—come and join us. After that there was a long silence. And, as was also common in those days, there was soon a split in the Black Dwarf. One day John rang and we talked. He suggested a meeting and a week later he and Yoko showed up at my bed-sit in North London with a delicious Japanese take-away as supper. We discussed the state of the world, including the state of the student movement in Japan. Epstein was fearful that the group might be denied visas to the States, which would be a commercial disaster.

    John always regretted having obeyed his manager, but that was in the past. The biggest and best influence in his life was now Yoko Ono. I was in no doubt that Yoko had radicalized him further on the artistic and the political front. She had also been accused of breaking up the Beatles and we laughed a great deal at the suggestion. He was angered by the racist gibes against Yoko in the tabloid press. I suggested they should be taken as compliments. It would be awful if the creeps who attacked her decided to turn their coats.

    Before they left, I suggested an interview with both of them and he agreed, wondering aloud whether it would be appropriate since " Red Mole was very serious and interviewing me might lower the tone. I asked if I could bring my colleague Robin Blackburn—more attuned to popular culture than myself—to which he readily agreed.

    A week later, a large limo pulled up outside our offices to the astonishment of bystanders. Robin and I piled in and were driven to Tittenhurst. The interview had gone extremely well. Both John and Yoko had been disarmingly frank. All that was now left was the editing. The very next morning John rang. He had been so inspired by our interview that he had written a new song. Could he sing it on the phone? He could.


    That was how I first heard Power to the People. We met several times after that, sometimes before a recording session at the Abbey Road Studios, more often at Tittenhurst. I first heard the words of Imagine at the kitchen table in Tittenhurst. The Politburo approves, John, I joked at the time, wondering whether I would have been in a minority on the Politburo on this question. His lyrics had moved beyond matrimonial moonings. Love and happiness now became a feminist call for a new way of life.

    The fantastic, as well as the surreal, were given a rest. Lennon, as Epstein feared, had become ultrasubversive and political.

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    Working Class Hero and The Luck of the Irish did not please the conservative critics, but were enormously popular. It was on one of these visits to Tittenhurst that he told me how fed up they were with England. It was too parochial and racist, Yoko hated it and so did he and they were moving to New York. I could understand all this, but did warn him that there were too many kooks in that country and he should be careful.

    During his first year in New York we spoke on the phone, but soon lost touch. Computers, alas, had not yet been invented.

    John Lennon's sister looks back on the memories that ease the pain 40 years on from his death

    Together with the rest of the world, one felt a great deal of pain the day he died. I think the tribute he would have loved was the spontaneous grief in Moscow as kids rushed to the Lenin Hills and sang Back in the U. I thought of him during the giant global demonstrations against the Bush-Blair war on Iraq. His spirit was marching with us.

    Read More From Yoko Ono

    The clarity, beauty and magnificence of that John Lennon tune both moved me and transformed me back in time for a moment. I can clearly remember in , at age thirteen, getting ready for school as my clock radio blared out a new tune from the mopheads from England called I Want to Hold Your Hand. How could we have lost such a gifted man? How could we survive that loss, musically or politically? For surely, his memory and talent lives on. Influencing still the talent of all the generations to come, and protesting from the grave, the issues that can only be properly highlighted by the music and attitude John seemed to stand for.

    It started at breakfast time. My room was just down the hall, and I was having breakfast with the four of them in their suite at the Plaza. No one seemed to be eating much. Everything was relatively calm. They were all talking about the Ed Sullivan Show and what they were going to sing and John said something about just going with the most popular songs. Outside in the street there was chaos.

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    • Police were wrestling with little girls who were climbing up back stairways or passing themselves off as hotel guests. A few got up but were stopped outside the room. Back in my room about PM with cameras ready—I always keep my cameras ready on a news story and this was a big news story.