Being John Lennon
By Ray Connolly
An intimate yet unsparing biography of one of the greatest and most mythologised musicians of the twentieth century.
John Lennon was a rock star, a school clown, a writer, a wit, an iconoclast, a sometime peace activist and finally an eccentric millionaire. He was also a Beatle - his plain-speaking and impudent rejection of authority catching, and eloquently articulating, the group's moment in history.
Chronicling a troubled life, from that of the cast-aside child of a broken wartime marriage to his murder by a deranged fan, Being John Lennon analyses the contradictions in the singer-songwriter's creative and destructive personality. A leader who could be easily led, he was often generous and often funny, but sometimes scathingly cruel.
As a journalist, author Ray Connolly had a close working relationship with Lennon, and the entire Beatles coterie. In this biography he unsparingly reassesses the chameleon nature of the perpetually dissatisfied star who just couldn't stop reinventing himself.
Drawing on many interviews and conversations with Lennon, his first wife Cynthia and second Yoko Ono, as well as his girlfriend May Pang and song-writing partner Paul McCartney, this complex portrait is a revealing insight into a restless man whose emotional turbulence governed his life and talent.
RAY CONNOLLY is a journalist, novelist and award-winning screenwriter who has also written television series, films and documentaries as well as several radio plays and short stories. The author of Being Elvis: A Lonely Life, he contributes regularly to the Daily Mail, having also written for the London Evening Standard, the Sunday Times, The Times, the Observer and the Daily Telegraph. He is married, has three children and lives in London.
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- Publication date:
04 Oct 2018
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Connolly, the author of Being Elvis, takes a sensible route down the path dividing the saint and the monster in
this careful, thoughtful biography. It's a well-told story, but Connolly has a substantial advantage: as a journalist for the Evening Standard and the Sunday Times, he came to know Lennon well enough to be invited repeatedly to his Berkshire house, Tittenhurst Park ... Yet Connolly wears his acquaintance lightly, never forcing himself into the narrative or sinking into the hideous mateyness that can blight rock biographies ... For Connolly, it is Lennon's insecurities that are ultimately most revealing, rooted in an unsettled childhood in Liverpool's postwar suburbs ... Connolly does all this with quiet expertise, an understated writer who collates all the details into a vivid whole ... [N]either hatchet job nor hagiography, Being John Lennon swerves dead-hero worship. What survives is the complicated, enduringly fascinating man
— Victoria Segal, Sunday Times
Connolly perfectly captures the shabby conformism and deference of post-war Britain that the Beatles would help to overturn. He handles their much-told tale with welcome concision ... He deals with the difficult subject of Yoko deftly ... there was never a Saint John - the man in Ray Connolly's account is much more human, and much more lovable — Observer
'[John Lennon] would probably enjoy this very fair biography... Connolly's book presents him as neither saint nor sinner but captures with honesty a complex and fascinating character. Lennon's is an oft-told story but Connolly still unearths nuggets about the insecurities that shaped his life, and the collaboration and rivalry with Macca that created magic — The Sun
An intimate biography that finds much to say that is new about the head Beatle — Choice Magazine
Connolly draws on his archive conversations with the Beatles to give a superb portrait of a dissatisfied star who couldn't stop reinventing himself — Daily Telegraph
Excellent — Helen Brown, Daily Telegraph Music Books of the Year