I am old enough that the Beatles were a current and very hot band when I started tuning into the radio. This was around the turning point in their music, when they stopped playing pop songs with catchy tunes and uninspired lyrics and moved into more creative and dangerous territory. Sgt. Pepper was the first album I ever bought. Thus I have a special appreciation for John Lennon, who was certainly the brains behind the Beatles as Paul McCartney was the band’s heart, and this John Lennon biography by Elizabeth Partridge, aimed at young readers, brought back flashes from the past. The person behind the great composer, guitar player and singer comes out clearly, both during and after his seven-year mercurial ride with the Beatles. Lennon’s early years, his inner conflicts and troubled mind, the influence of Yoko Ono on his later work, and the global impact of his murder are all here.
The Real John Lennon Behind the Artist
The facts of the life of a man as famous as John Lennon are readily available, but what Partridge has done goes beyond a John Lennon biography and actually tells a compelling story. As with a lot of great artists, Lennon suffered from the inner pain that, alas, often seems to be the price of great art, and abused alcohol and drugs in the hurricane of fame and fortune. But Partridge, in telling this part of the story, and others such as the breakup of Lennon’s first marriage and that of the Beatles, is careful not to pass judgment. The book includes a wealth of black-and-white photos, discography of both the Beatles and John Lennon’s post-Beatle work. The title fits the man well, as Lennon throughout his musical career, his spiritual questing, and his political activism alike sought to penetrate illusion and lies and find the truth – something that usually eluded him. In my opinion, this is one of the better biographies of Lennon for young readers published to date.