Lennon Legend: An Illustrated Life of John Lennon

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Presented in a handsome slipcase, Lennon Legend is both an illustrated and an interactive biography of the creative genius - songwriter, artist, social activist - who changed his times. Created with the cooperation of Yoko Ono Lennon, who has opened her archives for this project, the book offers insightful details about every era of John's life, from his early days at art school to the height of Beatlemania to "Imagine." A live recording of that song is included, along with several interviews of John talking ...

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Overview

Presented in a handsome slipcase, Lennon Legend is both an illustrated and an interactive biography of the creative genius - songwriter, artist, social activist - who changed his times. Created with the cooperation of Yoko Ono Lennon, who has opened her archives for this project, the book offers insightful details about every era of John's life, from his early days at art school to the height of Beatlemania to "Imagine." A live recording of that song is included, along with several interviews of John talking about his life and art, on the audio CD contained in this package. Throughout, the book features archival photographs and reproductions of John's handwritten song lyrics, drawings, memorabilia, and personal papers. In all, 40 removable facsimiles can be enjoyed by the reader, several previously unpublished, including an intimate self-portrait in pen and ink and a plea for world peace. It's been said that John Lennon's was the voice of a generation. Lennon Legend celebrates that voice's power to resonate across the generations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"He has too many of the wrong ambitions and his energy is too often misplaced," wrote the headmaster on John Lennon's report card in the summer of 1956, when Lennon was fifteen. We can agree with the headmaster only insofar as the young Lennon planned to devote his life to skiffle music. But once he devoted himself to rock & roll, he and the other Beatles overthrew the world.

Literally hundreds of books have been written about Lennon, so why would you spend forty dollars on a sixty-four-page volume? The text, by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame curator (and former Rolling Stone editor) James Henke, is fluid and well-researched — but Legend was produced with help from the Lennon estate, so don't expect any album to be referred to as anything less than a triumph, except by implication, when the next one is a "return to form."

The book shines by including dozens of reproduced items from Lennon's life and career, stuck into pockets throughout; reading Legend is like flipping through a sophisticated pop-up book for Beatles fans. Some of the inventory: handwritten lyrics to "Imagine," Beatles bubblegum cards circa 1963, and a full-page 1979 ad he and Yoko Ono took out in the New York Times to explain why they had seemingly disappeared from public life. There's also an hour-long CD of Lennon interviews. Best of all the reproductions is the Daily Howl, Lennon's handmade schoolboy newspaper, filled with cartoons and humor such as "Our late editor is dead, he died of death, which killed him." This volume captures some of the ephemeral whimsy and genius of Lennon's life. -Rolling Stone Magazine

The Washington Post
Lots of great pictures and an hour-long CD of previously unreleased Lennon interviews make this a touching biography that you'll want to touch as well. — Richard Harrington
Publishers Weekly
Henke, a rock critic and v-p of exhibitions at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, provides a breezy and serviceable biography that contains few unfamiliar photos and little new information. Yet incredibly detailed reproductions of artifacts (removable on almost every other page) from Lennon's life and work make this book something many fans won't be able to pass up. These include a report card from 1955; a business card for Lennon's early group the Quarry Men, distressed for effect; a ticket for the Beatles' appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in its original envelope; Beatle bubble gum cards; pages from a 1967 article in Rolling Stone; cards from the Yoko Ono art show that introduced her to Lennon; and handwritten lyric sheets. For any Lennon fan, this will be as close to the originals as one can get without actually owning them. Despite the splashy layout and varied materials, the book doesn't seem overdone, since Lennon himself worked in all sorts of media-such as the "War Is Over" postcards included here. An hour-long CD included with the book has Lennon talking about his work in his unmistakable combination of sly wit and engaging self-deprecation, a wonderful reminder of why Lennon is still beloved more than 20 years after his murder. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This book documents the contours of Lennon's personal life, from childhood through marriages and career; his extraordinary accomplishments as musician, writer, and social activist; his influence on his own generation; and his continuing legacy. The story has been told before, of course-though rarely as elegantly as it is here. Archival, black-and-white and color photos appear on every page, enriching and interacting with the text. But this is more than a book; it is a production. It is slipcased; it includes a CD (an interview and a live performance of Lennon's masterful Imagine); and many of the "illustrations" add a personal, tactile dimension to readers' experience: 40 eerily realistic facsimiles of Lennon memorabilia can be removed from pockets and handled. A weathered report card from 1956 (Art: "good work this term"; Religious Instruction: "Work fair-attitude in class most unsatisfactory"; Headmaster: "He has too many of the wrong ambitions and his energy is too often misplaced"), coupled with an issue of Lennon's bizarre hand-drawn underground school newspaper, The Daily Howl, tells more about the performer's childhood than any amount of explication could do, and adds real depth to readers' understanding of the writer, artist, and activist that Lennon would become. Henke's text is thorough but economical, avoiding the sensationalism that has always dogged Lennon's press without avoiding significant issues or events. Outstanding, and it should have broad appeal.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811835176
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Edition description: BK/CD/ACC
  • Pages: 64
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 1.75 (d)

Meet the Author

James Henke is vice-president of exhibitions and curatorial affairs of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. For 16 years he was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine. He has also written and edited several books on rock and roll.

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    Awesome!

    The images in here are great! Crisp, clear... The pull-outs are very interesting - it would be one thing to see them printed on a page, it's a whole other thing to be able to literally pull them out of the book and hold them in your hand! A MUST for the wish list of any John Lennon fan! :D

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2004

    **For Any Beatle Fan**

    This is the neatest Beatles book I have ever read. It's very cool, with all the pictures of John and The Beatles. I thought all the things you could pull out, made the book very special. This book is a total must have if you love John and you love THE BEATLES!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2004

    What about Cyn and Julian

    I liked this book real well....my only compalint was the very small mention of Cynthia and Julian...there was plenty of Yoko and Sean...they were part of his life too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2003

    An unprecedented opportunity to touch Beatle history

    For those of us who drool at the personal Beatle related memorabilia selling for megabucks at auction, here is an inexpensive, yet elegant solution to own a piece of the rock. The value of Legends is the three dozen or so pieces of rare Lennon memorabilia faithfully reproduced in full color which are tucked into various pockets within this 64 page coffee table book. Look at the program of the Woolton Fete and fantasize that you are there watching John perform while Paul McCartney was lingering in the crowd watching and listening intently. Would you like to hold a ticket to one of the Beatles Ed Sullivan appearances (when they sang, ¿Ticket to Ride¿)? Want to read facsimile issues of John¿s outrageous, ¿Daily Howl?¿ Take out Yoko¿s card that simply says, ¿Breathe¿ and recreate John¿s seminal moment in meeting Yoko. And, that¿s for starters. Handwritten song lyrics to ¿In My Life,¿ ¿Lucy in the Sky,¿ and several others can be held in your very hand. If you have seen the Lennon exhibition on tour you know that these two were offered separately as limited edition prints for $1500 and $700 respectively. Thus, the price of the book is modest, considering the high quality reproductions included within. Bear in mind that most of these enclosures are easily removable so be sure to obtain a copy that is factory shrink wrapped or order on line. The pictures are of excellent quality and there are some which I have never seen anywhere else. The downside of this work is that the text tends to be hagiographic in nature and therefore misleading in places. I still give it 5 stars because the interactive quality of the memorabilia literally takes my breath away.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2003

    Outstanding Picture and History Book

    Nice slip cover and presentation. As I sauntered in the book, I found valuable letters in whimsical little envelopes and song lyrics written in detail from scratch (Of course they were copied under Yoko's consent). It was as though I was reading into John Lennon's personal journal. I recommend this as a great valuable gift to any John Lennon or Beatles fan. This is a must buy for the music enthusiast.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2003

    Blow any Beatles/Lennon fan away with this gift!

    This book the coolest interactive book I've ever seen. It really lets you inside his life like only Yoko could imagine. Also helps understand his style. You are able to see his penmanship, personal items, and unreleased music.

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