Born in October 1940, John Lennon would have just turned 79-years-old and is by far one of the greatest musicians of all time. His beautiful lyrics spoke to millions around the world and he created Beatlemania when the famous band took the world by storm.
He was so much more than a singer and songwriter and fans knew that behind his humor and wit was a sensitive man capable of a deep kind of love. Here are some other hidden facts about the beloved John Lennon.
He hated his own voice
Given that he has one of the most cherished and admired voices in the history of music and rock, it is quite a surprise that Lennon hated his voice. He insisted on double tracking his records and would often ask The Beatles producer, George Martin, to cover the sound of his voice.
In one hilarious moment, he said “Can’t you smother it with tomato ketchup or something?” Clearly the rest of the world felt very different about his voice!
Lennon didn’t like any of the Beatles’ Records
Considering the rest of the world couldn’t get enough of The Beatles and literally lost their minds when new music was released, the admission that Lennon didn’t like their records was quite surprising.
Years after the band had split, John Lennon was having dinner with producer George Martin and said he wanted to re-record every Beatles song.Martin was stunned, turned John and questioned “Even Strawberry Fields?” John replied, “Especially Strawberry Fields.”
He started out in boy scouts and as a choir boy
Prior to leading a crazy rock n’ roll lifestyle and traveling the world, back in home town of Liverpool, John was once a choir boy at church and a boy scout.
It was at St. Peter’s Church in Liverpool that John found his talent for singing and in his spare time he was a member of the 3rd Allerton Boy Scout troop. It wasn’t until John went into his teens that he joined the band and his whole life changed dramatically.
He was the only Beatle who didn’t go vegetarian
Vegetarianism is something that became very popular among the Beatles and George Harrison was said to be the first to convert and officially became a vegetarian in 1965.
A couple years later, Paul McCartney was converted to it and when Ringo Starr began having some health problems, he also decided to cut meat out of his diet and join the other two. In the 1960s, Lennon was said to have considered it, but never went all the way.
Monopoly was his game of choice
Between playing to sold out shows and interacting with adoring fans, John Lennon loved to play the board game Monopoly in his off time. He had his own set that he brought with him to hotel and when on flights.
He was very particular in that he had to stand when throwing the dice and Boardwalk and Park Place were his favorite properties to buy. Many times, he wouldn’t care if he lost the game as long as those two properties were in his possession.
He was the last Beatle to get his driving license
Not only was John Lennon considered to be a terrible driver, he was also the last in the group to actually pass his driving test. It wasn’t until the age of 24 that he achieved this and even then, he probably shouldn’t have been on the roads.
In 1969, he decided to give up driving once and for all when he totaled his Aston Martin on a trip to Scotland with his wife Yoko Ono, his son, Julian and Kyoko, Ono’s daughter. He ended up needing 17 stitches post crash.
He last saw Paul McCartney on April 24, 1976
Paul McCartney was visiting John Lennon at his New York apartment and they were watching Saturday Night Live together. On the show, producer Lorne Michaels jokingly said he would give the Beatles $3000 to come on the show.
While sitting at home, Lennon and McCartney almost jumped in a cab and took him up on the offer but later decided not to. It probably would have been one of the best moments in SNL history.
He admitted the best lyric he ever wrote was “all you need is love”
People could argue for hours over what Beatles lyrics were the best or which song took the number one spot, but John Lennon had a very decisive and simple answer when he was asked what the best lyric he ever wrote was.
Understandably, he replied “That’s easy, ‘All you need is love’.” It is such a powerful lyric that has been used in so many scenarios through the years, bringing people together from all walks of life.
Amateur photographer Paul Goresh was the last to take his picture
On December 8th 1980, Lennon was signing an album for the very man who was to assassinate him only hours later when he was photographed by amateur photographer Paul Goresh.
Lennon signed a copy of his latest album, Double Fantasy, for crazed fan Mark David Chapman hours prior to the man gunning him down outside his New York apartment. Goresh later realized that he had caught Lennon’s killer Mark David Chapman in the background of the last photo of Lennon.
What happened with Yoko Ono?
Lennon met Ono in November 1966 at a London gallery and immediately had a connection. When they met, they were both married to other people and began having an affair until Lennon’s wife Cynthia caught them together.
The two were married but it wasn’t all smooth sailing as Ono admitted to setting up a relationship between her personal assistant and her husband to get him away from her for a while. Bizarrely, Ono’s plan brought them back together and closer than ever.
Did Yoko Ono really break up the Beatles?
Yoko Ono certainly had a big influence on Lennon’s life and just a year after the couple wed, the Beatles broke up. Many fans claim that Ono was a catalyst in this as she encouraged her husband to try more experimental music rather than sticking with mainstream songs.
Lennon was obsessed with Ono and would follow her everywhere, spending more time with her than the band. However, Paul McCartney dismissed claims that it was her fault and said that “the group was breaking up”.
John Lennon was investigated by the FBI
After gathering over 300 pages of information on John Lennon, the FBI had kept him under surveillance and tried to deport him because of his political activism. During the Vietnam war, Lennon became increasingly involved in the peace moment and developed friendships with radicals including Jerry Rubin and Bobby Seale.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that the extent of the surveillance of John Lennon was discovered. When Lennon got his green card in 1976 it was a huge victory over the government.
He claimed he saw a UFO in New York
On August 23rd 1974, John Lennon claimed to have seen a UFO over New York with his girlfriend at the time May Pang. He explained to Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine that he had an urge to go to the window.
He said “no more than 100 feet away was this thing with ordinary electric light bulbs flashing on and off round the bottom, one non-blinking red light on top.” Pang also confirmed the sighting adding the lights were “dazzling to the mind.”
He was raised by his aunt
When John was just four years old his parents separated and at which time his mother handed him over to her sister to live with. His Aunt Mimi believed she was able to give him a better life than his mother could so he moved out to the suburbs of Liverpool.
Aunt Mimi was highly dismissive of John’s musical ambitions and as a teenager she would often tell him “The guitar’s all right John, but you’ll never make a living out of it”.
He went blind in later years
John Lennon was famous for his round glasses but many people were unaware of how badly he actually needed the glasses. Lennon’s optometrist in New York admitted that the singer was “very nearsighted” and probably couldn’t see without his glasses.
For many years, he tried to not wear glasses but his sight got increasingly worse and contact lenses were not an option. In later years, his eyesight was so bad he was declared legally blind.
The Beatles divorce
Although the Beatles didn’t actually split publicly until April 1970 when Paul McCartney announced it, it was a long time coming. The previous year in September was it for John Lennon and he claimed he wanted a “divorce” from the band.
Considering the sheer power of the Beatles and what they had grown into, many business proceedings had to take place before the world could be told what was actually going on. In the following years, some of the band members would collaborate, but never as a four.
In the end, all you need is love
Paul McCartney and John Lennon had a very bitter and public feud when the Beatles broke up. A number of different factors culminated in a lot of animosity between the two who used to be as close as brothers. They disapproved of each others actions and embarked on different paths in life, despite having all of their highs together.
It took a long time for the two to be able to remotely patch things up, but in 1980, just before his death, Lennon said of McCartney “I would do anything for him. I think he would do anything for me.”
He wanted his wife to look like Brigitte Bardot
In the 50s and 60s, Brigitte Bardot was considered the most beautiful woman and every man was in love with her, including John Lennon. Lennon’s love for Bardot became almost an obsession and he went so far as to force his girlfriends to look and dress like her.
This culminated in making his wife, Cynthia Powell to dye her hair blonde and wear black eye-make up. When Cynthia cut her hair and no longer resembled Bardot, Lennon refused to speak to her for two days.
John Lennon was supposed to sing lead vocals on the Beatles first single
In 1962, the Beatles’ first single was Love Me Do, but it was the only single from the band where Paul McCartney took the lead.
For this record, Lennon was supposed to sing lead vocals, but when he had to play harmonica too, they deemed it was too much so McCartney stepped in and led the song. For most of the Beatles songs, lead vocals were ususally taken on by Lennon or McCartney.
How his son found out he was a Beatle
For celebrity kids there is always a moment where they find out why their parent is famous or what they do. In many cases its from the Internet or the media, but for John Lennon’s son Sean, he partially found out from TV.
Sean was watching TV one day when the Beatles smash hit “Yellow Submarine” came on TV and he noticed that the music video looked just like his dad. After more questioning, Sean’s suspicions of his father’s fame were all but confirmed.
He didn’t like the fan hysteria
John Lennon loved music and it was his complete passion. While he was grateful for his fans and always happy to meet them, he wasn’t happy about the screaming at live concerts and the hysteria that would take over the music. After growing tired of the noise, Lennon said “Beatles concerts are nothing to do with music any more.
They’re just bloody tribal rites.” Lennon wanted the fans to appreciate the music and lyrics that the Beatles were performing, rather than screaming for them as public figures.
21st birthday epiphany
Growing up, John Lennon knew he wanted to be a musician but he was aware that breaking into the music industry and making it big was a rare thing.
Just before his 21st birthday, Lennon’s doubts about breaking into the music industry became even more apparent and he felt he was just too old to see great success. It was just after this that the Beatles were formed and Lennon became a leading man in one of the biggest bands of all time.
Supply in demand
John Lennon was known for being a terrible driver and didn’t get his driving license until much later on in life. However, once he did in 1965, car dealerships in his local area became very aware that they could potentially have a huge purchase upon their hands and wanted to secure a deal with the Beatle.
In attempting to do this, the dealerships parked an array of luxury cars outside his home, in the hope that one of them would catch his eye.
When John Lennon was at school, he was known to be one of the naughty kids. It was said that if there was a fight in the playground, John would always be involved. Not only that, but he would mess around in class which led him to get bad grades.
He was later diagnosed with dyslexia which explained much of his mischievous behavior in school that led to him eventually getting kicked out. If he didn’t come to be a famous musician, who knows what he would have done.
Rejecting a royal award
In the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 1965, the Beatles were given the honor of becoming Members of the British Empire. However, later on Lennon decided that in accepting the honor he had sold out to The Establishment and wrote a letter to the Queen returning the MBE.
In the letter he voiced his opposition to the involvement of Britain in the Vietnam War. At this time he was heavily involved in the protests with Yoko Ono.
John Lennon was known for saying anything that came to his mind, and in some instances, it landed him in a lot of trouble. On national television, Lennon claimed that he was more famous than Jesus.
Unsurprisingly, the comment was met with plenty of backlash and people denouncing the Beatles. Music stations banned their songs and people went into the streets burning their records. As a result, John Lennon was later asked for a formal public apology after making a blasphemous
Singer to actor
As one of the most famous singer/songwriters in the world, Lennon and the rest of the Beatles were given opportunities to appear in films. Their first appearance was in A Hard Day’s Night in 1964, Help in 1965, Magical Mystery Tour 1969 and Let It Be in 1970.
In his career in acting, he only got one solo role and that was in How I Won The War in 1968. Other than this, there have been many films and documentaries released that focused on the life of the Beatles legend.
John Lennon the househusband
Being a hugely successful musician and public figure, you would assume John Lennon to be the breadwinner going to work while Yoko Ono stayed home to look after the kids.
However, this wasn’t the case at all and when the couple welcomed their son Sean on John’s 35th birthday. Yoko and John agreed that the latter would be the one who stayed home and was the househusband. This went on for a total of five years.
He was murdered in between media interviews
When Mark David Chapman murdered John Lennon outside his New York apartment, Lennon had just come from a photoshoot for the cover of Rolling Stone that was shot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz.
In addition to this, Lennon had just recorded an extensive interview for RKO Radio discussing his new music and personal life as well as doing an interview for the BBC a week before. No one could have predicted this was the last time he would ever be seen or heard again.
The Rolling Stone cover
On the day of his death, John Lennon shot the Rolling Stone cover with Annie Leibovitz. The cover photo featured a nude Lennon hugging and kissing wife Yoko Ono, who was fully clothed.
The cover, given its poignance, was later voted the top magazine cover of the last 40 years by a panel of magazine editors, artists and designers chosen by the American Society of Magazine Editors. The photo was accompanied by a nine hour interview for Rolling Stone.
John Lennon was known to have quite a harsh exterior and could often be difficult to work with. However, this was said to have changed in 1975 after the birth of his son Sean with Yoko Ono. After this event, he was said to have become much more sweet and mellow.
He would watch the Beatles’ films and cartoons with Sean and even play their records to him. Despite his aggressive interview with Playboy in 1980, most of his associates said he was much easier to be around after the birth of Sean.
He was the only Beatle who never saw a Paul McCartney concert
When the Beatles split up, there was plenty of bitterness between the band members, especially between Paul McCartney and John Lennon who used to consider each other brothers. Paul McCartney went solo and started producing hits by himself. When he went on tour, John Lennon was the only one who didn’t see him perform live.
Ringo Starr went to a concert in 1976 and George Harrison went to a concert in 1993. Lennon had planned to visit McCartney in New Orleans during the Venus and Mars album session but canceled when Yoko Ono fell pregnant.
He hated Beatles memorabilia
When Beatlemania was at its peak, memorabilia of almost anything was made and John Lennon claimed he had a disdain for all of the cheesy toys, posters, keyrings and everything else.
However, Lennon was said to have privately sent assistants to fan conventions including the earlier Beatlefests with crazed fans to buy interesting or special items. He once considered showing up at a convention unannounced to see what happened but decided against the idea of it.
His personal assistants wrote memoirs about him
John Lennon’s story was one of the most tragic and people wanted to know everything about him that wasn’t already out in the press. As a result, his personal assistants wrote memoirs and each of them takes off where the last finished.
It started with “The Beatles, Lennon and Me” by Peter Shotton followed by “John Lennon: One Day At a Time” by Anthony Fawcett, then there was “Loving John” by May Pang who also had an affair with the star. Following from this was “Dakota Days” by John Green and finally “The Last Days of John Lennon” by Frederic Seaman.
John recorded the Please Please Me with a bad throat
The Beatles debut album Please Please Me was rushed into production and ended up being recorded in just 12 hours when most albums take months to record and perfect. Strategically, they recorded “Twist and Shout” last because Lennon had a bad cold and they didn’t know how his voice would hold up.
Producer George Martin knew that the throat-shredding vocals that the record required would affect Lennon’s voice for the rest of the record so left it for last.
The Beatles couldn’t get their name right
The Beatles are one of the best bands of all time and very few people wouldn’t know who they are. They became a household name in the 60s and Beatlemania was created, but it took some time for the band to decide on their name.
In 1959 they had many different names, one of which was Johnny and the Moondogs before coming up with another idea and turning up to a show in different color shirts and decided to call themselves The Rainbows. Neither name had the ring that The Beatles had.
Despite John Lennon informing the Beatles in 1969 that he was leaving the group, it wasn’t until 1970 when Paul McCartney publicly said he was quitting the band. 10 years later in 1980, McCartney had gone solo and he had a new single come out entitled “Coming Up”.
Around the same time of the release, Lennon heard the single and his immediate response was “I’ve got to get back.” Not only did he love the single, it was one of the moments that spurred him on to start releasing solo music.
McCartney caused an uproar
In 2002, Paul McCartney made headlines when he changed the credits to many of his co-written songs with John Lennon from Lennon & McCartney to McCartney & Lennon.
Fans were up in arms at the decision to do so as Lennon was not alive to make a comment or have a say in it. However, this wasn’t the first time that McCartney’s name appeared first as it had also appeared this way on the 1976 live album “Wings Over America”.
John Lennon left a secret message on a demo for Ringo Starr
Just before Lennon was shot, he recorded Double Fantasy and had a long-lost demo that he had left for Ringo Starr. It wasn’t until years later that Ringo found there was a message for him on the demo and he knew he had to record it.
The producer Jack Douglas told Ringo about the cassette and told him he would get him a copy. Ringo then explained “It says on the beginning ‘This will be great for you, Ringo.’”