Memories of John Lennon

Memories of John Lennon

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by Yoko Ono

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John Lennon . . . as much a part of our world today as he ever was

He touched many lives in his brief forty years, and continues to move and inspire millions more to this day. Now, invited by Yoko Ono, friends, family, and fans from all walks of life—including some of the great artists of our day—reminisce about Lennon as


John Lennon . . . as much a part of our world today as he ever was

He touched many lives in his brief forty years, and continues to move and inspire millions more to this day. Now, invited by Yoko Ono, friends, family, and fans from all walks of life—including some of the great artists of our day—reminisce about Lennon as a visionary and friend, musician and performer, husband and father, activist and jokester.

In their own words and drawings, poems and photos, Lennon's life from his childhood through the Beatles years to the happiness and tragedy of his final days become stunningly vivid.

Intimate glimpses gathered from musicians who knew John, such as Pete Townshend, Sir Elton John, Billy Preston, and Joan Baez; friends and relatives such as producer David Geffen, publicist Elliot Mintz, and cousin Mike Cadwallader; and artists who followed him such as Bono, Alicia Keys, Steve Earle, Jello Biafra, and Carlos Santana.

And, for the first time, renowned photographer Annie Liebovitz presents every frame of the historic last session with John and Yoko.

Memories of John Lennon is a rich and deeply felt appreciation of a truly great man.

Editorial Reviews

John Lennon (1940-80) barely reached his 40th birthday, but his life and music affected millions. In this collection of previously unpublished pieces, edited by his wife Yoko Ono, musicians, friends, and relatives reflect on the "Liverpool New Yorker." Among the contributors are Peter Townshend, Sir Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger, Billy Preston, Joan Baez, Bono, Alicia Keys, and David Geffen.
Publishers Weekly
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. (They were culled from other books previously published about Lennon and/or the Beatles.) 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. She recounts what it was like the day the singer was shot in their entryway, and how she used to peer into his apartment while he was having breakfast with his family. The most important moments, clearly, were also the most mundane. (Dec.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Ono, a composer and visual and performance artist, has assembled a loving tribute to her late husband, John Lennon, who was killed 25 years ago this December. His personal life, music, and social, political, and musical influences are covered via reminiscences, photographs, drawings, and poems from more than 70 people who knew or were influenced by him. Among the contributors are Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger, political activist Tom Hayden, publicist Elliot Mintz, cousin Mike Cadwallader, and producer David Geffen. Some of the entries are brief, while others are extensive. Of particular interest is photographer Annie Leibovitz's contribution: every single frame from her final session with Lennon and Ono (which includes the famous "fetal" shot). A wonderful book for fans of Lennon and/or the Beatles, this is highly recommended for all large popular music and popular culture collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/05.]-James E. Perone, Mount Union Coll., Alliance, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Imagine a John Lennon tribute that doesn't serve as a mild sedative. Because this one, edited by Lennon's widow, Ono, takes the same wearisome, anodyne tack as the plethora of Lennon-eulogizing sundries that have accumulated in the years since his death. The majority of the entries, many from warmed-over celebrities such as Bono, Elton John and Carly Simon, follow a maddeningly predictable template in which the contributor notes Lennon's sharp wit, remembers a small personal kindness and wistfully suggests that we could sure use a guy like him today. A significant number of these reminiscences have been cut-and-pasted from old interviews, giving the book a somewhat shoddy, opportunistic feel. Many respondents are compelled to rhapsodize over Lennon's peace anthem, "Imagine"-presumably its cozy utopian homilies are worthier of consideration than audacious, disturbing works like "A Day in the Life" or "I Am the Walrus" that made Lennon worth talking about in the first place. Some pieces are worthwhile: A cousin of Lennon amusingly recounts Lennon's horror of physical labor; session musician Andy Newmark gives a revealing account of Lennon's demeanor in the recording studio; musician and artist Klaus Voorman touchingly describes and illustrates Lennon's "house husband" phase; and activist Tom Hayden provides a useful summary of the Nixon administration's role in Lennon's immigration problems. In an unintentional high point illustrating the collection's general pointlessness, Ray Charles hilariously praises Lennon and the Beatles' musical genius with a list of songs written by Paul McCartney. Speaking of the Cute One, he and Ringo are conspicuously absent, perhaps to make space for PaulReiser. Largely useless as biography, musical analysis or gossip, this flavorless warm-fuzzy seems like a book Lennon would have shunned. The sort of thing a well meaning grandmother might pick up in an airport gift shop for her little Jeremy, who likes the rock music.

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Memories of John Lennon

By Yoko Ono

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Yoko Ono
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060594551

Chapter One

Jane Alexander

When I first heard "Imagine," and the soft, gentle voice of John singing, I was quite overwhelmed. The song seemed to encapsulate all we in the 1960s dreamed of: a world with no violence, no racism, no war, no assassinations -- a world possible through envisioning it to be so. I still believe it, and every time I hear the song, it enforces my belief. We can have peace, harmony, beauty and love if we make that our constant vision for the future, if we imagine it and live it ourselves every day. That was John's gift to us, all through his remarkable song.

Tariq Ali

Our first direct contact in 1969 was formal. I was editing the Black Dwarf, a radical politico-cultural magazine. We had published "An Open Letter to John Lennon" -- a savage review of the Beatles' album Revolution by John Hoyland, our music/popular culture critic. John Lennon had been busted by the cops. The Black Dwarf used the occasion to discuss the lyrics of the Revolution album seriously. Hoyland wrote:

Above all: perhaps now you'll see what it is you're (we're) up against. Not nasty people, not even neurosis or spiritual undernourishment. What we're confronted with is a repressive, vicious, authoritarian system. A system which is inhuman and immoral, because it deprives 99 percent of humanity of the right to live their lives their own way. A system which will screw you if you step out of line and behave just a tiny bit differently from the way those in power want.

Such a system -- such a society -- is so racked by contradiction and tension and unhappiness that all relationships within it are poisoned. You know this. You know, from your own experience, how little control over their lives working-class people are permitted to have. . . . How can love and kindness between human-beings grow in such a society? It can't. Don't you see that now? The system has got to be changed before people can live the full, loving lives that you have said you want.

Now do you see what was wrong with your record Revolution? That record was no more revolutionary than Mrs. Dale's Diary. In order to change the world we've got to understand what's wrong with the world. And then, destroy it. Ruthlessly. . . . There is no such thing as a polite revolution.

The tone of the letter was undoubtedly patronizing, and we thought he would ignore it. But a week later he sent a reply to John Hoyland with a covering note hoping I would publish it. We did:

Who do you think you are? What do you think you know? I'm not only up against the establishment but you, too, it seems. I know what I'm up against -- narrow minds -- rich/poor. All your relationships may be poisoned -- it depends how you look at it. What kind of system do you propose and who would run it?

I don't remember saying Revolution was revolutionary -- fuck Mrs. Dale. Listen to all three versions (Revolution 1, 2 and 9) then try again, dear John. . . .

You're obviously on a destruction kick. I'll tell you what's wrong with the world -- people, so do you want to destroy them? Ruthlessly? Until we change your/our heads -- there's no chance. 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? It's a bit naive, John. You seem to think it's just a class war. . . . Look man, I was/am not against you. Instead of splitting hairs about the Beatles and the Stones -- think a little bigger -- look at the world we're living in and ask yourself: why? And then -- come and join us.

John Lennon

PS -- You smash it -- I'll build around it.

As these extracts suggest, it was a spirited exchange.

After that there was a long silence. And, as was also common in those days, there was soon a split in the Black Dwarf. How strange it seems now and how stupid and destructive, but that's the way we were. The Leninists left to set up Red Mole and moved from swinging Soho to proletarian Pentonville Road, a seedy zone near Kings Cross station in London.

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. John's views had sharpened considerably since the letters in the Black Dwarf. He told me that, like Mick Jagger, he had wanted to march on the big anti-Vietnam war demos but the Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, had forbidden any such outing. 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." He wasn't joking, but I assured him that an interview would be enormously helpful for our little newspaper. I asked if I could bring my colleague Robin Blackburn -- more attuned to popular culture than myself -- to which he readily agreed.


Excerpted from Memories of John Lennon by Yoko Ono Copyright © 2005 by Yoko Ono. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Yoko Ono is a musician and multimediaartist. She lives in New York City.

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Memories of John Lennon 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I hate to disagree, because not only was I against Yoko and everything she stood for, but I mean John was her husband, and her husband died. I really do hate how so many people blame her for The Beatles brake up, but John was John lennon, not just a beatle. I have great sympathy towards Yoko, and this book was just a great way to show a lot of things that made John great. I mean Yoko didn't tell these people what to write, they just wrote what they remembered, so how could that make it bad? I really loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She suckled, kneading Redferns belly with tiny paws.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay. ~ Redfern
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is pure Yoko. The fact that only a handful of people (with the exception of Jagger and Elton) are recognizable speaks volumes. Eliott Mintz, her gofer of sorts, has a telling large amount of 'words of wisdom' about Lennon in the book. Of course, Sir Paul and Ringo are missing. They knew him hardly at all, of course. Don't waste your time on this stupid, sappy, one-sided book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I suppose I am the only person on earth who really likes Yoko.