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Picture Yourself: John Lennon's Life & Music in Pictures and Video

The Quarrymen. Saturday 6th July, 1957. St. Peter's Church, Woolton, Liverpool
The day John Lennon met Paul McCartney

The Quarrymen. Saturday 6th July, 1957. St. Peter's Church, Woolton, Liverpool.
Eric Griffiths - guitar, Colin Hanton - drums, Rod Davis - banjo, John Lennon - guitar, Len Garry - tea-chest bass, Pete Shotton - washboard.

John Lennon's band The Quarrymen (inspired by the name of John's school 'Quarry Bank High'), were playing in St. Peter's Church field as part of the annual Woolton Fete on Saturday 6th July, 1957. In the audience was Geoff Rhind and Paul McCartney, who had come along just to watch the band. John Lennon's childhood pal Ivan Vaughan brought Paul to meet him. Lennon and McCartney later talked to each other about music, before The Quarrymen performed a second show in the Church Hall that evening.

Paul McCartney recalled: 'There was a guy up on the stage wearing a checked shirt, looking pretty good singing a song I loved, the Del-Vikings' Come Go With Me. He was filling in with blues lines, I thought that was good, and he was singing well.' John Lennon recalled: 'That was the day, the day I met Paul, that it started moving.'
The Day John Met Paul: An Hour-by-Hour Account of How the Beatles Began

The Quarrymen: Close up of the original picture
The Quarrymen: Close up of original photograph taken by Geoff Rhind on 6/7/1957


Video of exact spot where Paul McCartney first saw John Lennon

John Lennon in Hamburg, with Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe
John Lennon standing in a Hamburg doorway, with Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe walking past him. The picture was taken by Jurgen Vollmer, a friend of The Beatles in Hamburg. John later used this image for the cover of his Rock n Roll album (1975), on which he called himself Dr. Winston O'Boogie

John Lennon wearing glasses
John Lennon had very poor eyesight and was prescribed spectacles at an early age. Without them, he was legally blind. John hated wearing his 'National Health' glasses, and would go without them whenever possible. He later chose to wear 'Buddy Holly' style framed glasses, as seen in the picture above. In Beatlemania he even experimented with hard glass contact lenses, but did not like them. During the filming of 'How I Won the War' (1966), Lennon wore the same glasses he'd hated as a child. This time he embraced them, and set off a new popularity for the style. He softened this style in the early 1970s, and gave it up for 'plastic blue frames' later in that decade.

John Lennon in 1975
John Lennon sat next to his treasured jukebox, which contained all his favorite songs - the songs that had inspired him. Behind him on the wall is the famous 'Hamburg' picture that his then lover May Pang bought him at a US Beatles Convention in 1975.


The Beatles at the Cavern Club.

Original video footage of The Beatles playing at the Cavern Club in Liverpool on August 22nd 1962. Bob Wooler was a DJ at The Cavern Club and is famous for introducing The Beatles to their manager Brian Epstein. On the only live video footage of The Beatles playing in the Cavern Club, Bob Wooler announces 'At this midday session at The Cavern, we proudly present The Beatles'. The Beatles play the song 'Some Other Guy'. At the end of the song, an audience member shouts out 'We want Pete' (referring to the recently sacked Beatles drummer Pete Best), and then John Lennon replys sarcastically 'Yeh!'.

John Lennon's handwritten lyrics to the song 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'
John's handwritten lyrics to the song 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' at 57 Wimpole Street, London (1963). McCartney was living as a guest of Dr. Richard and Margaret Asher. Their daughter, Jane Asher, was Paul's girlfriend. In September 1980, John Lennon told Playboy magazine: "We wrote a lot of stuff together, one on one, eyeball to eyeball. Like in 'I Want to Hold Your Hand,' I remember when we got the chord that made the song. We were in Jane Asher's house, downstairs in the cellar playing on the piano at the same time. And we had, 'Oh you-u-u/ got that something...' And Paul hits this chord (E minor) and I turn to him and say, 'That's it!' I said, 'Do that again!' In those days, we really used to absolutely write like that, both playing into each other's noses."

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show.
The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show on three consecutive Sundays in February 1964. Their first appearance on February 9th 1964 is considered a milestone in American culture and the beginning of the British Invasion in music. The broadcast drew an estimated 78 million viewers, which was a record for US television. The Beatles started the show by performing "All My Loving", "Till There Was You", and "She Loves You". They returned later in the program to perform "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand".

John Lennon's handwritten lyrics to the song 'Nowhere Man'
John's handwritten lyrics to the song 'Nowhere Man'.

John Lennon claimed that he wrote the song 'Nowhere Man' about himself. He wrote it after wracking his brain in desperation for five hours, trying to come up with another song for Rubber Soul (1965). Lennon told Playboy in 1980: "I'd spent five hours that morning trying to write a song that was meaningful and good, and I finally gave up and lay down. Then 'Nowhere Man' came, words and music, the whole damn thing as I lay down".

The excellent film Nowhere Boy takes its name from John Lennon's song 'Nowhere Man', and traces John's early life in Liverpool, and his relationship with his father and mother.

John's handwritten lyrics to the song 'In My Life'
John's handwritten lyrics to the song 'In My Life'.

John Lennon started writing 'In My Life' in 1964. He forgot about the song for a while and then he wrote it again a year later, changing the lyrics. In John's original handwritten lyrics he made reference to several places in Liverpool: "Penny Lane is one I'm missing, Up Church Rd to the clocktower, In the circle of the abbey, I have seen some happy hours. Past the tramsheds with no trams, On the 5 bus into town, Past the Dutch and St. Columbus, To the Dockers Umbrella that they pulled down." However, Lennon found it to be silly, calling it "the most boring sort of 'What I Did On My Holidays Bus Trip' song". He reworked the words, replacing the specific memories with a generalized meditation on his past. Very few lines of the original version remained in the finished song. According to Lennon's friend and biographer Peter Shotton, the lines "Some (friends) are dead and some are living/In my life I've loved them all" referred to Stuart Sutcliffe (who died in 1962) and to Shotton himself.

John Lennon at his house 'Kenwood'
John Lennon composing in his home studio at 'Kenwood' England.

John Lennon's music room was in the attic of his house (Kenwood, Weybridge, England) and contained tape recorders, a mellotron, an electric organ, a piano, a Vox AC30, and several guitars. Many famous Beatles songs were composed here, either by John Lennon working alone, or by Lennon and McCartney when Paul McCartney visited for their songwriting sessions. 'Girl', 'Eleanor Rigby', 'We Can Work It Out', 'Here, There And Everywhere', and 'Good Day Sunshine' were some of the songs written at John's home at Kenwood.

Drawing by Julian Lennon (1966) which inspired John to write 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds'
Drawing by Julian Lennon (1966) which inspired John to write 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds'

Julian Lennon, came home from nursery school with a drawing he said was of his classmate, a girl named Lucy. Showing the artwork to his father, Julian described the picture as 'Lucy, in the sky with diamonds.' The Lucy referred to in the song was a classmate of Julian's at Heath House School in Weybridge named Lucy O'Donnell (Born: 1963 - Died: 22 September 2009). The song first appeared on The Beatles 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

'Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite.' John wrote all the lyrics to the song, from this poster
'Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite.' John wrote all the lyrics to the song, from this poster.

John Lennon wrote the song taking inspiration from a nineteenth century circus poster for Pablo Fanque's circus which he purchased in an antique shop in 1967, while filming the promotional video for the song 'Strawberry Fields Forever' in Kent, England. Mr. Kite is believed to be William Kite, who worked for Pablo Fanque from 1843 to 1845.

Jessie's Dream: Magical Mystery Tour Film Scene.

This was a scene from The Beatles 1967 TV film 'Magical Mystery Tour', called 'Jessie's Dream'. It was inspired by a dream John Lennon had, and he decided to use his own imagery in the film. 'Jessie's dream', features an instrumental piece of music, written by Lennon, McCartney, Starkey, and Harrison.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono Wedding Day
John Lennon married Yoko Ono on March 20, 1969 in Gibraltar. 'The Ballad of John and Yoko' is a song written by John Lennon and released by The Beatles as a single in May 1969. It chronicled the events surrounding Lennon's marriage to Yoko Ono and their subsequent activities together, including their famous first Bed-In in the Amsterdam Hilton, and demonstration of Bagism. It was released while the couple were in the middle of their second Bed-In at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.

John's handwritten lyrics to the song 'Imagine'
John's handwritten lyrics to the song 'Imagine'.

John Lennon's original handwritten lyrics to his 1971 song Imagine. The lyrics have been written on a piece of New York's Hilton Hotel stationery paper.


John Lennon's Home Demo of Imagine.

John Lennon is rehearsing 'Imagine' in this video clip. It was filmed at Tittenhurst Park in Ascot, England, 1971. The complete version of John rehearsing 'Imagine' on his famous white piano, can be found on Gimme Some Truth: The Making of John Lennon's 'Imagine'. It was the first time anyone had heard the song 'Imagine'. John is demonstrating the song to his session musicians, before they attempt to record it.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney: The last picture together.
Last photograph of Lennon and McCartney (1974).

John Lennon was producing Harry Nilsson's album Pussy Cats in Los Angeles (1974). Paul McCartney visited John Lennon and joined in a jam session with John for the first time in the studio since the split of The Beatles. At John's Santa Monica beach house, the two Beatles were relaxing with Keith Moon & May Pang by the swimmimg pool when this picture was taken. It is the last ever photograph of Lennon and McCartney together.

John Lennon's last stage performance.
John Lennon's last stage performance. Hilton Hotel, New York. April 18th, 1975.

Video footage of John Lennon's last stage performance exists. John Lennon appeared at the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel in New York City to perform on 'A Salute to Sir Lew Grade'. On this television special, John performed 'Slippin and Slidin', 'Stand By Me', and 'Imagine'. John changed the lyrics of 'Imagine' to 'brotherhood and sisterhood of man'. John's backing band, Etcetera (aka BOMF) wore unique two-faced masks that John had designed to project his true feelings about Sir Lew Grade. The band later changed their name to 'Dog Soldier', which were words from the John Lennon song 'Incantation'.

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