Da Musically Inclined Bomb

DePauw University's First Year Seminar on Writing about Music

Sunday, November 12, 2006

All Shine On...

Killed on his way back home from a recording session in December, John Lennon lived a truly legendary life. A member of the world-famous Beatles, and later doing solo work, Lennon made a huge impact on the planet and in the world of music.

John Lennon was born in Liverpool, during a German air raid. Both of his parents had musical backgrounds and experience, though neither pursued music seriously. Lennon lived with his parents until his father Alfred, a merchant seaman, walked out on the family when John was five years. His mother Julia (due to a current relationship and lack of home space) handed over care of young Lennon to her sister, Mimi Smith, after receiving a considerable amount of pressure from both Mary and child services to do so. Throughout the rest of his childhood and adolescence, Lennon lived with his aunt. Like much of the population of Liverpool, Lennon had some Irish heritage. While Lennon had little exposure to his Irish heritage growing up, he came to identify with it later in life. He lived in a fairly middle class section of Liverpool.

Mimi and George, who had no children of their own, became strong parental figures to Lennon. Mimi was loving but stern, and kept John in line. George was softer than his wife and would indulge him, teaching him to paint, draw and buying him his first mouth organ. In Alfred's absence, George became a father figure and his death in 1955 was to have a profound influence on Lennon, especially in light of events that were to follow. On July 15, 1958, when Lennon was 17, his mother was killed returning from Mimi's house after being struck by a car driven by a drunk off-duty police officer. Julia Lennon's death was one of the factors that cemented his friendship with McCartney, who had lost his own mother to breast cancer in 1956, when he was 14. Years later, Lennon wrote the songs "Julia", "Mother" and "My Mummy's Dead" regarding his mother, as well as naming his firstborn son, Julian, after her.

Though failing at his exams by one grade at grammar school, Lennon was accepted into the Liverpool College of Art with help from his school's headmaster and his Aunt Mimi, who was insistent that John would have some sort of qualification. It was there that he met his future wife, Cynthia Powell. Lennon would steadily grow to hate the conformity of art school, and he ultimately dropped out.

He then devoted himself to music, and was inspired by American rock 'n' roll with singers/musicians like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Little Richard. Mimi told Lennon frequently "The guitar's all very well, John, but you'll never make a living out of it." (Years later, when The Beatles were the top act in show business, he presented her with a silver platter, engraved with the same words.)

He started a little band in his Grammar School that was called The Quarry Men. With the addition of Paul McCartney and George Harrison, the band changed to playing rock 'n' roll, taking the name "Johnny and The Moondogs", followed by "The Silver Beetles" , which was later shortened to The Beatles.


At 11/12/2006 10:28 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

It would have been interesting to hear a bit more of what happened between when he was handed over to his aunt and when he was 17. It was a big skip.

At 11/12/2006 10:34 PM, Blogger iheart-t-ravs said...

I agree with Melissa and you could've talked a little more about what happened in that gap.

At 11/12/2006 10:42 PM, Blogger Renee said...

i really liked your first sentence... it hooks the readers and pulls them in

At 11/12/2006 11:05 PM, Blogger Becca said...

Why the change from "Beetles" to "Beatles"? John Lennon is fascinating. Great work!

At 11/12/2006 11:10 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

I understand going from the end of his life and back, but your first sentence is totally out of context. It just doesn't fit, so if you take it out than the rest of the intro works. To make the sentence work, you would have to go into more detail about it than just stating it.

At 11/12/2006 11:41 PM, Blogger Godfather Outlaw said...

I like how you briefly outlined him in the first sentence/paragraph.

At 11/13/2006 4:16 AM, Blogger Dennis Fuller said...

it was beetles in the first place in honor of buddy holly and the crickets.

i am pretty darn sure of that.

buddy holly rocks.


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