This Just In: Beatles’ John Lennon Was Really an A-hole


A rich, spoiled, lazy, arrogant, self-centered, drug-addled hypocrite.   The Daily Mail fills in the details, as if we didn’t really know.  The rather amusing and altogether unsurprising piece is worth the read.

By the age of 25 he owned a Rolls-Royce and a Ferrari. When he was filming Help! in Bond Street in 1965, the director asked him to run into Asprey, the luxury jewellers, through one door and out of another. On the way, he contrived to spend some £600 — the equivalent of £20,000 today.

This is not, of course, the Lennon that his fans choose to remember. The real Lennon, we are often told, was an artist, an idealist, an ascetic who disdained possessions and rejected the hypocrisies of capitalism.

But this is nonsense. The real John Lennon always craved money. When their manager, Brian Epstein, secured them their first contract with record company EMI, Lennon’s telegram simply asked: ‘When are we going to be millionaires?’

As for political idealism, for most of his early life he never showed the slightest interest. As an art student he didn’t join the Labour Party, go on CND marches or demonstrate against apartheid.

It was only after he had fulfilled his primary ambition to become very rich that he began to indulge his artistic, political and spiritual enthusiasms.

There’s more.  When that other foul-smelling hippie Yoko Ono arrived on the scene, it seems Lennon dived deeper into his hypocrisy and became more annoying.

It was in this capacity, as a self-appointed prophet of world peace, that Lennon wrote Imagine. Ironically, the hymn to purity and simplicity was recorded in the purpose-built studio at his country house, Tittenhurst Park in Ascot.

The couple had bought the house with its cottages, magnificent gardens and 72 acres of land from the entrepreneur and chocolate heir Sir Peter Cadbury. It was an incongruously splendid setting from which to lecture the world on the importance of no possessions.

I am of the age where more than a few of my high school teachers all but deified Lennon and the Beatles.  I never cared for most of their stuff, for myriad reasons, and when I mentioned that to one fawning English teacher Freshman year, I was curtly informed that I could consider myself uneducated until I could appreciate their genius, particularly that of John Lennon.   When Lennon was shot in 1980, another teacher told us it would be a defining moment in our lives.  Words cannot express how wrong both of them were.

Some visitors were struck by the contrast between his millionaire lifestyle and the sentiments of his most famous song. Elton John was astounded to discover that Yoko had a specially refrigerated room just for her fur coats.

In 1980, to mark Lennon’s 40th birthday, Elton sent him a little verse: ‘Imagine six apartments / It isn’t hard to do / One is full of fur coats / The other’s full of shoes.’

An older friend, the Beatles’ former personal assistant Neil Aspinall, once heard Lennon moaning about the costs of running his business empire. ‘Imagine no possessions, John,’ Aspinall said.  Lennon glared back.  ‘It’s only a bloody song,’ he said.

So in the end, John Lennon was indeed a music pioneer.  He was one of the first mega-stars of Rock and Roll who was in actuality a fraud; an annoying, self-centered jackwagon who needed someone to kick some of his teeth out for his troubles.    All I can hope is that those teachers of my youth, now long retired, had some kind of epiphany at some point and realized “Geez, this guy was an a-hole!”
Which makes me appreciate Blutarsky even more.

12 thoughts on “This Just In: Beatles’ John Lennon Was Really an A-hole”

  1. My spouse is a long time Beatles fan and said that John Lennon would be the first to admit to you that he was an a**hole. At the same time, the NYPD wanted to shove his killer into the glove box of a patrol car because they generally like John. When he and the family did walks in Central Park he got along great with the beat cops and horse patrols.

  2. Liberal teachers in OH? I once got detention from my WA State history teacher at NWJH after challenging her claim that the jets deliberately alter their flight paths to fly over houses.

  3. Eh, I still like some of their stuff but not as much as highschool when I was trying way too hard to look like I “Got It”. The Stones and CCR have always been just plain more fun to listen to.

    1. I’ve always despised the Beatles.

      I was shocked to find out a couple years ago that I actually like their music … it’s just THEM that I dislike intensely. I almost always enjoy covers of their songs.

  4. My older sister was a big Beatles fan; I recall her concern over the “Paul is dead” controversy at the time.

    She eventually moved on to other artists, such as Judy Collins, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, and Steely Dan, not to mention Fairport Convention. Buffalo Springfield, Poco, and the various incarnations of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. She even built herself a dulcimer from scratch. Beautiful sounds.

    I picked up a healthy slug of my musical preferences from her. Later picked more rhythm & blues, blues, and (real) country. Stevie Ray Vaughn still lives.

    …I remember when I heard Lennon had been shot & killed. My very first reaction was “Well, there go the reunion plans.” True story. Nowadays, one of the more popular slogans is “John Lennon died for our sins.” Not hardly.

    As for musical ability, I would take Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps over Imagine any day of the week, especially if you pick Jeff Healey’s cover. Damn, but that man could play.

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