Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from Hfxsoxnut. Show Hfxsoxnut's posts

    Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    I have recently read two outstanding bios of Lennon and McCartney.  The Lennon bio was written by Tim Riley and the McCartney one by Howard Sounes.  Both are huge, weighing in at over 600 pages apiece, hardcover.

    I can honestly say that after reading these books, and combining the material with everything else I'd already read about the two, in Beatles books and elsewhere, I feel like I have put together a pretty clear picture of the men behind the music.  Now I shall proceed to rattle forth some of my own personal observations and hopefully elicit some of the same from others.

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    There's one topic I have to get out of the way to begin with.  It's kind of an elephant in the room with both of these guys.  It's the women and the womanizing.  Both John and Paul were prolific in this area, beginning in the wild days of their stays in the Reeperbahn section of Hamburg, continuing through the glory days when the Beatles ruled the world and women made themselves available in great abundance wherever they went.  None of that may be particularly shocking or interesting.  Of somewhat greater interest perhaps is the matter of whether they were able to maintain any sort of monogamous relationships with the women who were partners for long periods of time.  Was Lennon faithful to his first wife, Cynthia?  Nope, not even close.  Was McCartney faithful to Jane Asher, his first long-term girlfriend?  Absolutely not.  It was Paul's infidelity that broke them up.

    Now, moving on, was Lennon faithful to Yoko?  No he wasn't.  In fact, when they broke up for a period of about 18 months midway in their relationship, Yoko actually gave the assignment of looking after John sexually to a woman named May Pang who had worked for them as an assistance.  Even while living with Pang, though, Lennon reportedly had a number of other women on the go.  It does seem that when John and Yoko reunited in 1975, from that point on until his death in 1980, he did finally stop the running around.

    McCartney, meanwhile, appears to have been completely faithful to Linda, and also to Heather Mills while they were together. 

    One little side story here: one of the few women who ever turned down Lennon was singer Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes.  Lennon was extremely fond of Ronnie and on a couple of occasions he tried to move in on her.  But she turned him down flat, ironically perhaps because she was in a relationship with Phil Spector.  The nice part of the story, so to speak, was that Lennon took the refusals graciously and continued to be good friends with Ronnie.

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    Nice work.  

    RE: womanizing.   For rockers and fans alike, the issue of infidelity / cheating / betrayal and all that good cheap wine that accompanies it (ha!), well, it all blends together in the brew of the RnR world, and for the mostpart, we as fans, accept it.    We have had threads here on non-musical dealbreakers, and I've yet to witness anyone turning their back on a musician for being a cad.    

    As for John, that does not surprise me very much.    For Paul, it doesn't necessarily surprise me in his younger days.   As for his marriage to Linda, I would be crushed if that had not been a faithful marriage, as I thought, regardless of Linda's wishy-washy musical talent, they were a true love story.   I have always believed that Paul was completely bereft when Linda died, and that she was a good wife and mother, who left her mark.  I mean, Paul's a vegetarian to this day, the Simpson's has a story line re: Lisa that relates to it ;); Paul's edgy designer daughter, Stella,  also creates an environmentally and humanely responsible line of clothing, and I have always believed that's part of Linda's influence as well.  

    So I am personally relieved to know that Paul was true to Linda.  

    As for rockers in general, they are what they are.   :)    

    As for George Harrison's wife being stolen away by Eric Clapton ... well, you'll have to read up on George for the scoop, but I am pretty sure George was no saintly Beatle, either.  :(  

     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from Hfxsoxnut. Show Hfxsoxnut's posts

    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    With regard to the relationship between the two giants, I think a general perception has formed that, beginning with the last days of the Beatles, and continuing on through their solo careers up to Lennon's death, there was a rift between the two that was sometimes ugly.  Much of this is true.  They became legal adversaries for a period as Beatles finances were tangled up in the machinations of Allen Klein, who Lennon agreed to as successor to Brian Epstein, with McCartney the only one of the four to refuse Klein's management.  The two also became artistic rivals as their solo careers developed.  Lennon had a low opinion of much of McCartney's solo work, as he famously captured in his song 'How Do You Sleep?'

    What's not quite as well known is that their friendship did continue in spite of the public displays of rancor.  I had read before about some reunions the two had in New York, one of which involved Paul and Linda showing up unannounced on Christmas Eve singing carols.

    A new insight that I got from the Lennon bio was that the two also had some frequent, and amicable, contact by telephone.  A musician named Gary Van Scyoc who was in a band called Elephant's Memory that backed Lennon on the 'Some Time in New York City' album, reports that:

    'It was nothing for John to take a call from Paul right in the middle of a session and talk to him for ninety minutes while we took a break.  And they were not fighting or arguing.  They talked about family...you would swear they were best friends.'

    It was also somewhat surprising to learn that, when John and Yoko were separated, with John living the high life in L.A. and their relationship close to the point of no return, McCartney volunteered to go talk to John.  He personally delivered a message from Yoko that there was still a way for them to get back together if he was prepared to work hard at it.   

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    Great insight on the Beatles Hfx!! I couldn't help but notice you haven't mentioned Ringo yet though.I know he's been married since 1981 to Barbara Bach.I'm guessing he wasn't much of a hound before that,at least not to the lengths that Paul and John were.So has he been pretty faithful to her during their marriage?I hope so because they seem like a couple who really love each other.  

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    As I read your post Hfx it reminded me of every episode of that VH1 series Behind the Music - same story - drugs, alcohol, women and legal issues - just a different band name.  All of the trappings of just about every band that ever made it.  It doesn't surprise me that the Beatles were part of that same story line.  ;)

     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from Hfxsoxnut. Show Hfxsoxnut's posts

    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    In response to mrmojo1120's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Great insight on the Beatles Hfx!! I couldn't help but notice you haven't mentioned Ringo yet though.I know he's been married since 1981 to Barbara Bach.I'm guessing he wasn't much of a hound before that,at least not to the lengths that Paul and John were.So has he been pretty faithful to her during their marriage?I hope so because they seem like a couple who really love each other.  

    [/QUOTE]

    What inspired this thread was reading the bios of John & Paul.  I haven't read any dedicated bios of Ringo, just what there is in the Beatle books I've read. 

    From what I've read, all four of the Beatles were about the same in the glory days.  I couldn't say if Ringo's been faithful to Barbara Bach or not.  One thing I have read, though, which was really icky, was that Ringo's first wife Maureen cheated on him while they were married-with George.

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    Of the two, Lennon is generally considered to be by far the more intellectual.  But interestingly, McCartney was actually the one who had more of the big ideas that drove the Beatles' later work.

    Sgt. Pepper concept - McCartney idea

    Magical Mystery Tour - McCartney idea

    Let It Be concept - McCartney idea

    Both Lennon & McCartney had artistic talents beyond their music.  Lennon was an avid writer of nonsense verse inspired by the likes of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll.  He published several books of the verse, illustrated with his comical and bizarre drawings.

    McCartney took up painting and his work has received generally favorable reviews.  He has a significant art collection including some originals by one of his favorites (and mine), Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte.  It is Magritte's painting of an apple that became the famous Apple logo first seen on the Hey Jude single.   

     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from jesseyeric. Show jesseyeric's posts

    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    The relationship between Paul and John was no different than any two brothers.

    Check out this interview:

     

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vW5A3UHqLWM

     

    Any Lennon fan will love and cherish it. He is so at ease with the conversation.

     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from ZILLAGOD. Show ZILLAGOD's posts

    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    The relationship / affair that Lennon had with May Pang was not "cheating" or "womanizing " as it was encouraged bt Yoko!

    From what I have read , when John went on his "lost weekend", Yoko sent May Pang as a "chaperone" or "babysitter" or whatever you want to call it. Obvousliy she knew John pretty well. I don't fully understand how a woman could be "okay" with having her mate have sex with another ( younger) woman. But, as I understand it she knew John wanted some space in the relationship, but that he would be back after blowing off some steam. So, she wanted to select the partner for him, and at least know that it was purely sexual and there was no emotional attachment. Pretty wierd.

     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from MattyScornD. Show MattyScornD's posts

    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    Just curious...

     

    But is there something to be said about the differences in culture between then and now, one which would prompt otherwise promiscuous rockstars to even get married in the first place at such a young age?

    I mean, there is a stereotype at work with the whole "on the road" lifestyle of hedonism which would seem to be at total odds with the obligatory family waiting dutifully at home?

    Several scenes from the almost-virtuosic "Almost Famous" come to mind immediately.

    I'm no prude or anything.  Nearly every person in my family has failed at marriage at least once - some twice.  Infidelity and divorce have been a part of the culture for quite some time.

    But it occurs to me that it's just as naive to think a barnstorming rock band able to stay celibate as a young wife or husband left alone for months at a time.

    So much popular music is about love - lost and found - that maybe the first marriage ends up as songwriting fodder for future ballads.

    And as for those rock stars who stay married or in long-term relationships, isn't there a certain suspension of disbelief at play...?

    Cue Entwhistle's outstanding "My Wife"....

     

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    John Lennon was a troubled soul for much of his life, that's not news to anyone.  The new bio unfolds the traumas that befell him at a young age with great sympathy.  His childhood was the complete family tragedy.  Father Alfred and mother Julia split up early.  Alfred literally went off to sea.  Julia was a carefree and somewhat wild young woman who couldn't cope with bringing up John on her own.  So she stashed him with her sister Mimi and brother-in-law George, who lived not that far from her.  Young John wasn't informed that his mother was living so near.  Mimi was strict and overbearing, George was kindly.  John developed a good relationship with George.  George died when John was 12.  John finally found out where Mimi was living and they spend some good time together.  Julia was hit by a car and died when John was 17.  John became best friends with a young artist named Stuart Sutcliffe.  Stuart died when John was 21.   

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    In response to Hfxsoxnut's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    John Lennon was a troubled soul for much of his life, that's not news to anyone.  The new bio unfolds the traumas that befell him at a young age with great sympathy.  His childhood was the complete family tragedy.  Father Alfred and mother Julia split up early.  Alfred literally went off to sea.  Julia was a carefree and somewhat wild young woman who couldn't cope with bringing up John on her own.  So she stashed him with her sister Mimi and brother-in-law George, who lived not that far from her.  Young John wasn't informed that his mother was living so near.  Mimi was strict and overbearing, George was kindly.  John developed a good relationship with George.  George died when John was 12.  John finally found out where Mimi was living and they spend some good time together.  Julia was hit by a car and died when John was 17.  John became best friends with a young artist named Stuart Sutcliffe.  Stuart died when John was 21.   

    [/QUOTE]

    That is indeed a lot to bear for a young man, particularly growing up in post-war Britain during the reconstruction.  I have no doubt those experiences informed John's songwriting, as well as his j.d.-ish persona early on.

    I'm curious, though, as to how his early life affected his later, adult relationships.  I think there are differences between anger and persistence, so it's worth wondering how much of his environment vs. his dna ended up informing his creative success.  With John, there seemed to always be a bit of discipline to his desires.

    Thanks for the tip on the books, hfx...I'll have to give them a look.

     

     

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    In response to MattyScornD's comment:

     And as for those rock stars who stay married or in long-term relationships, isn't there a certain suspension of disbelief at play...? 

    No.  I believe everything I read in fanzines.   If Linda and Paul McCartney were said to be happily married, end of discussion.   Same with Bruce, Sting, Bowie, and Ocasek, etc.   :)

    As for *any* long-term relationship that we view from the outside, yes, there has to be a suspension of disbelief.   Anyone that believes that all long-term relationships exist in some sort of bubble or love-paradise, needs to get a little dose of reality, STAT.  

    For John Lennon, that must have been a hard life to handle.   But that's why, with his ultimate marriage to Yoko Ono, and the birth of his children, it's good to know he experienced the softer side of love, too, even if his fans felt Yoko was a liability to his musicianship.    A very sad tale for Lennon, though.  



     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    John had a cruel streak, which I believe had a lot to do with the childhood traumas.

    The way he broke up with Cynthia was exceptionally cruel.  She came home from a trip to find that Yoko had simply moved into their house, and John had nothing to say by way of explanation or apology.  His message was, this is the way it is, we're done, goodbye.  He was similarly cold toward son Julian, treating him as the cause and by-product of an unwanted marriage to Cynthia.

    John's tangled relationship with Brian Epstein was an example of his capacity to be alternately cruel and kind.  Epstein was homosexual and he had a crush on John.  John used this against Epstein when he felt like it.  When Epstein was working on an autobiography, he asked the band if they had any ideas for a title.  John's reply: 'Why don't you call it Queer Jew?'  Yet John had considerable respect for Epstein's business and management skills and when Epstein died in 1967 it was another devastating loss in John's life. 

     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from ZILLAGOD. Show ZILLAGOD's posts

    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    On the other hand , Great Britian has never been known as a wonderful place for kids from working-class families to grow up in.

    So, even though John had it tough as a youth so did many other young Brits.

    Joe Strummer was shipped off to a boarding school and rarely saw his parents for many years, his brother committed suicide and Joe worked as a gravedigger. I remember an interview where he described England in the early 70's as a miserable place for young people with almost no opportunity for advancement or even a low-paying job ( CAREER OPPORTUNITIES, THE ONES THAT NEVER KNOCK....) This is where the anger and complete frustration of the British punk movement comes from....( GOD SAVE THE QUEEN, THE FASCIST REGIME....).

    Real life tragedy and misery fueled the great music that became American Blues. It also fueled both waves of Rock that came from England , in the earlly 60s and again in the mid 70s.

    The Blues was born out of complete depression and repression. British Rock was born of anger and frustration. Rap is born from anger. Perhaps the next wave of music will be born from anger and resentment that is ( and should be) abundant in out current society?

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    One interesting contrast between Lennon and McCartney is the way they interacted with other musicians and how this reflected on their respective artistic egos.  John Lennon was the original leader of the band and in the early years of the band there was no doubt that the pecking order started with him.  As the band began to record original material, McCartney's songwriting and musical talents earned him a full royalty-earning partnership with Lennon.  By the time the band reached the height of their powers in 1967 and 1968, McCartney was close to claiming artistic control.  The epochal Sgt. Pepper concept was his and the less successful Magical Magical Tour concept that quickly followed was too.  By the time of the Let It Be 'cinema verite' recording sessions which were also his idea, Paul's efforts to control the music had become somewhat of a pain to the others.  This is captured for posterity in the Let It Be film, in a tense moment where Paul is showing an obviously unhappy George how to play a particular guitar part.

    As they moved on to solo careers many supporting musicians moved in and out of the circles of John and Paul.  The picture you get from reading about the interactions with these musicians is that Paul continued to be someone who exercised strict control over the music, even when it was in a band environment like Wings.

    With John a completely different picture emerges.  Although John admitted to being an egomaniac when he was in the Beatles, in his later projects he appears to have been the opposite.  Some comments from members of the Elephant's Memory band:

    'He was like a mentor to me.  We used to sit for hours and trade licks, like guitarists do.  Lennon...would ask me how I did stuff...there was absolutely no rock star stuff going on there.'

    'He helped us with our material, our lyrics too, and we could never convince him to take any credit for that.  He was humble like that.  Yoko Ono deserves far more credit than she'll ever get.'   

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    For whatever reason I ahve always enjoyed the Lennon tunes more. I love Elanor Rigby (MCCartney I beleive).. But alwasy tended to liek the Lennon ones better. I could go a lifetime without hearing Hey Jude or Let it Be again.. Not a fan whatsoever of those two tunes

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    One thing that was nice to read about in the Lennon bio was some under-the-radar acts of political activism and charity in his post-Beatle years.  One of these was in connection with the Attica State Prison tragedy.  He wrote a song called Attica State, performed at a benefit concert for the victims' families and afterward 'quietly contributed a large check to the Attica Defence Fund.'

    Another was his participation in the WFIL Helping Hand Radio Marathon, an annual charity event in Philadelphia for MS.  He was asked to help by Larry Kane, who worked for the station and who had met Lennon when he was a reporter travelling with the Beatles on some of their early tours of the US.  Says Kane:

    Lennon spent the entire weekend, every waking moment, pitching for the cause and signing autographs for thousands and thousands of people.  You can't imagine what an effort he made.  He basically came down on the train and said 'Put me to work.'  

    A sadly prophetic footnote to the Philadelphia event was that the mayor, Frank Rizzo, who was also the former police chief, commented that Lennon needed to pay much more attention to his personal security.   

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    One of McCartney's notable acts of munificence was his co-founding of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts.  On a visit to Liverpool, McCartney visited his old high school and was dismayed to see that it was on the verge of dereliction.  Meanwhile, a man named Mark Featherstone-Witty wanted to develop a school of performing arts in Liverpool.  The two were introduced by mutual friend George Martin and the project was set in motion, with McCartney's old high school as the site for the new Institute.

    McCartney pledged a million pounds of his own money to the project.  However, the total cost would be much more than that, and McCartney commissioned Featherstone-Witty to raise the rest of the needed capital from government and other private contributors.  Paul was the overseer, periodically meeting with Featherstone-Witty to monitor progress and crack the whip.  In the Sounes bio Featherstone-Witty is quoted as saying Paul could be at times a 'right b**tard'.

    In 1996 the LIPA opened, at a total cost of about 20 million pounds, and it has been a great success.  Featherstone-Witty is the Principal and Sir Paul is credited on the LIPA website as 'our Lead Patron.'   

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    Speaking of generosity, Lennon and McCartney just flat gave away some of their songs, including 'I Wanna Be Your Man' to the Stones, and 'World Without Love' to Peter & Gordon.  McCartney donated 'Come and Get It' to Badfinger and 'Thank U Very Much' to Scaffold, a comedy-music act fronted by his brother Mike.

    Lennon and McCartney gave away enough songs that somebody decided to put them all together on an album.  If you're really into Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas (4 songs), you are gonna want this.

     

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    @Hfx,

    Very nice syndicated news article (which is actually an excerpt from author Ian MacDonald's "Revolution in the Head") I saw today, thought might interest you and others.  

     Re: MacDonald's book (in case you're looking for another book on the Beatles eventually; you might want to take a breather after the recent 1200 pages :)  :

    "Ian MacDonald’s Revolution in the Head, is a thrilling song-by-song history of the Beatles’ records, Slate’s Stephen Metcalf has called “one of the best, if not the best, work of popculture criticism I’ve ever read.” MacDonald was a British music critic; he died in 2003."  (Actually, I saw that MacDonald commited suicide).  

    Here's a link to the article (the book excerpt clearly states that Lennon was interested in emulating "the Motown thing" and that they were influenced by Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere (There's a Place for Us)" from West Side Story, a little tidbit that coincides with a sidebar discussion in the "Good/Bad" thread re: no artist really living in a vacuum.  

    Here's the link for the article / excerpt :  (short, but damn good IMO)

     

    The Beatles Record Their Debut Album

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/02/04/the_beatles_marathon_sessions_for_please_please_me_how_there_s_a_place_captured.html

     

     

     
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    Re: Lennon & McCartney - recent bios read - things learned or confirmed

    Thanks yoga, I will definitely check that out.

     
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