Thinking about John Lennon 35 Years onWritten by Matteo Sedazzari
That is exactly what I was doing, only this time when I turned on the TV my plate of toast and marmalade and cup of coffee hit the living room floor, I was shocked and saddened to hear that John Lennon had been murdered the day before in his current home town of New York City, shot at 10.50pm (Eastern Time Zone, five hours behind GMT) pronounced dead at 11.07 pm (ETZ). My parents rarely had the radio on in the morning, and breakfast TV and 24 hour News was a thing of the future, especially 24 hour News and the Internet would have been seen as something from a science fiction novel. So back then it takes some time for news to filter through, good or bad, and in this case it certainly was bad, tragic in fact.
I am not going to write a biography on Lennon and The Beatles, his marriage to Yoko Ono, his solo career and such like , nor go into details about his death, even though I am not 100 per cent convinced on the ‘lone gun man’ theory. All of the above are subjects for more in-depth, objective and well –researched articles, I am just going to be subjective and what Lennon meant to me and still does.
Of course prior to his death, I knew who John Lennon was and who The Beatles were. The BBC showed their films A Hard Day's Night, Help!, Yellow Submarine, Let it Be. Magical Mystery Tour wasn’t shown on TV for many years, in fact during the Christmas of 1979, Auntie Beeb showed all the films, apart from the latter. ITV would show The Beatles cartoon series, of course not voices by John, Paul, George or Ringo. All our parents and grandparents had the records, and the kids in the playground would often sing The Beatles, Mop Top era, never heard a kid sing Tomorrow Never Knows. Our family even had some Beatles dolls, my word, I wished I had kept them, and we did own the only recorded record that former drummer Pete Best had played on, My Bonnie by Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers, the Beat brothers were The Beatles.
I loved The Beatles, as I associate the sound of their music with happiness at family gatherings over Christmas, and in 1979 the year I discovered The Jam, I began reading books on The Beatles thanks to my brother, and again thanks to my brother, I had access to their vinyl. I was a fan, even hoped that they would get back together. But on 8th December 1980 Mark Chapman, whether he was brain washed or not, destroyed any chance of The Beatles reforming, a few bullets and the world changed forever, just like the murder of John F Kennedy, the power of the gun ah ! A wife had lost her husband, two sons were now fatherless and the world lost a truly remarkable and inspiring man, a man capable of changing the world. Lennon was powerful, prior to his death he could have swayed certain American generations not to have voted for Ronald Reagan. Former president Nixon tried his best to extradite him from American soil. Lennon was a threat, a big threat, viewed much more than a rebel without a cause, he spoke, the world listened and that was enough to make the establishment do anything; I mean anything to remove him.
But I didn’t really know any of this before his death, I saw Lennon as someone who, to me as a child, made me smile and enjoy life. Watching The Beatles’ films, John was always my favourite, as he seemed to have the most cheekiness and their leader. Even before I really got into clothes , I loved his attire especially in Help ! When I heard him sing I just had to dance, it was magical and still is. I suppose once I was drawn to Lennon a year before his murder when reading about The Beatles, that he was rebel , questioned everything and expressed his thoughts and emotions via music, just like, back then a new hero I had discovered was Paul Weller of The Jam. At the time, I had issues, which I won’t bore you about, and it never dawned on me, that I could articulate my feelings by playing the guitar, or writing a poem. So along with Paul Weller and John Cooper Clarke, whom I discovered by accident in the summer of 1979, Lennon pushed me to be creative. It wasn’t music for me, even though I tried, but by accident and maybe fate I became a writer. Through my writing I have met and interviewed Weller and Clarke, have even become friends with Clarke and get on well with Weller, sadly I never got the chance to interview Lennon and maybe become his friend. It is those moments when alone or sharing it with a special friend, I often think what if Lennon had lived, and agreed to be interviewed by me, something inside me says he would have done it, it’s wishful thinking and of course a dream, but Lennon was a dreamer, and that is a good thing. Having visions how you wish to improve yourself and the world. Lennon was not afraid to say what was on his mind, by all accounts he could be pretty direct, and again that is a good way to be, because at least people know where they stand with you.
After many years of reading books and watching documentaries on John Lennon, I know he was not an angel, he could be brutal, even a bully and seemed to ostracise his first son, Julian. So I don’t put him on a pedestal, yet he died young, 40, he was changing, he seemed happy and looking forward to life, as we all should be. Yet what I do get from Lennon is inspiration and wisdom, a guiding light of a man who was often confused and lonely, but searched for light to overshadow his darkness, in which without talking too much about me, is something I strive for. Lennon made mistakes, I do, we all do, however he seemed to learn from his and saw life as an experience, which is something I have learnt late in life. In an odd way, it seems fitting that I should learn of Lennon’s death when I was off school and alone, as I hated school as did Lennon, and have always seen myself as a loner, yet in a positive sense, as did Lennon. No, no, I am not saying I am Lennon, but I could and can relate to him.
John Lennon, fighter, lover, rebel, charmer, angry young man, poet, father, musician and a human being, 35 years on, I have not forgotten the cheeky man from Liverpool who filled me with such delight as a child, and now as a man, who still fills me with delight, and now perception. Where ever your spirit maybe, all can I say is Thank you John, I love you.
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