Yeah, this time of year sucks for all John Lennon fans and I don’t have to say why but this is the 35th time we’ve had to remember this shitty day. Instead of remembering the worst moment of his life, I’d rather remember five of my favorite John moments. To me, these represent the quintessential John, always a rebel even when he was wearing that suit and tie.
- The day the Beatles played for the Queen and John sheepishly told the crowd: “Will the people in the cheaper seats, just clap your hands and the rest of you just rattle your jewelry.” You can see in the way John ducks away that he’d gotten away a good one at the expense of Britain’s upper crust. The man could not resist. It was the perfect John moment really, showing off his most Puckish self.
- The final song of the Beatles infamous 10-hour session at Abbey Road studios when they laid down all the songs for their Please, Please Me LP. The final number was “Twist & Shout”–John’s song–and everyone there knew it was a killer on his vocal chords. At that point, he was gargling with milk to keep his voice fresh. The milk turned bloody but he left it all on the floor for the blistering song that helped cement the boys’ early career.
- When John told a journalist that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. When the piece came out in Britain, no one said a peep. It was only later, when part of it came out in the USA, that the early religious right whipped their constituents into a frenzy. John very reluctantly half-apologized but clearly did not mean it. Time has proved him wrong of course–Jesus is holding his own–but the Beatles’ music lives on, as does John’s.
- When John heard that Brian Epstein had died, he famously said, “We’ve fucking had it now.” He was right. Brian’s death opened the door to the infighting between Paul and the band. Paul realized that someone needed to take control and he decided he was the only one who could do it. That of course ruffled the egos of the others and I think ultimately led to their breakup.
- The last public words John spoke with the Beatles as a band. It came at the end of their infamous rooftop concert when he quipped, “I’d like to thank you on behalf of the group and myself. I hope we passed the audition.” Just perfect. Oh that John!
[If you want to think more about what might have been had John lived, please pick up my new novel “Get Back, Imagine…saving John Lennon.”]