TORONTO, CANADA – 40 years after the death of John Lennon, author Aidan Prewett has cast surprising new light on the legacy of the late Beatle in a new book, TO KNOW JOHN LENNON. The rock biography from Canadian publisher Political Animal Press is an in-depth exploration of Lennon’s close relationships, featuring brand-new interviews with his old friends, family and colleagues. A number of touching, personal moments are unearthed in this portrait of the real man behind the icon.
Among these stories of personal connection is a revelation from BAFTA & Emmy-winning filmmaker, Tony Palmer, who directed two music documentaries with Lennon’s assistance. Palmer reveals moments of generosity and warmth - at odds with the scathing character that is often attributed to Lennon from a distance. “He was generous to a fault,” says Palmer. “For many people who were in trouble financially – if a relative was ill, for example – John would just very quietly intervene and settle the bills, if you see what I mean. So I think his generosity – we don’t really know about the extent of it yet. I’m sick and tired of reading biographies about him which don’t pay enough attention to that.”
Prewett spent two years tracking down some of the most reclusive members of the Lennon circle. “There were often moments in these conversations when I could feel the hair on the back of my neck stand on end,” says Prewett. “At times it really felt like John was somehow listening in.” John’s sister, Julia Baird, speaks of her older brother as a gentle and caring man, who came to her rescue several times at the height of Beatlemania. Baird recounts one incident at a London Beatles concert where Lennon almost stopped the show to ensure she was hoisted to safety by security. “We were hauled ignominiously on our stomachs under the curtain, and we ended up watching from the wings. John turned around and said, ‘Told you so!’ ”
Baird also shares special family moments, including the moment their mother began teaching John to play the banjo. “My mother would be behind him, and she’d have her hands on the frets. John would be strumming and learning to pick the strings. Then they would turn it around and they would do it in the opposite way – my mother would be doing the finger work.” Author Aidan Prewett’s experience as a documentary filmmaker came into play during these extensive interviews. “I don’t know why I’m being so nice to you,” Baird told Prewett before revealing some telling details about her brother that have never appeared in print or film before.
Each of the book’s 18 interviews centres around the question: What was it like to know John Lennon? The answers are often surprising. Many of the stories in TO KNOW JOHN LENNON have never been published before. The reader travels with Lennon’s oldest friends, from his first moments at Liverpool’s Dovedale Road Primary School right through to his final recording session at New York’s Record Plant. The book provides an all-access pass to Lennon’s inner circle – those who travelled with John as the Beatles conquered America, his confidants during the Beatles breakup, and long-term friends who spent time with John and Yoko at Tittenhurst Park, the Dakota building, and a variety of exotic locations around the world. Other rarely-told stories include the moment Lennon heard Little Richard’s iconic ‘Long Tall Sally’ for the first time - and John’s first band, the Quarrymen, rehearsing in his mother’s bathroom in the late 1950s.
TO KNOW JOHN LENNON is as close as it gets to spending a few hours in the company of John Lennon.
Aidan Prewett is available for interviews in support of TO KNOW JOHN LENNON.