JOHN WINSTON LENNON | JOHN ONO LENNON, The definitive biography. By Ray Coleman
These two volumes are beyond doubt the most comprehensive accounts of the life of John Lennon. They come as a most welcome change from the influx of kies and tell books whichhave appeared over the last few years and have more or less desierated the name of John Lennon and have appalled fans, family and friends alike.
The author, Coleman, writes with complete sincerity, respect and obvious love for his subject, an emotion which at times he over indulges in, but is nevertheless understandable and is no way a detrimental factor to the book’s content. Coleman who knew John for eighteen years was obviously not content to write a book purely on his experiences and memories, instead he collated a considerable collection of those people who knew John best, a feat which in itself is highly commendable.
I found both volumes fascinating, however, from a personal point of view I found the first volume 1940 – 1966 the most interesting. They both contained exclusive photographs anddocuments which have not been seen before including letters which John wrote to Cynthia from Hamburg. During this, which was apparently his most aggresive period, it illustrates his great love and sensitivity for Cynthia at the time. The account of the Hamburg era was particularly enlightening, especially about the relationship which existed between John and Stuart Sutcliffe.
Another aspect of John’s life which is studied closely is his involvement with drugs during the mid – sixties. Coleman strongly inferrs that this caused a considerable distancing between John and Cynthia and that the marriage was on the rocks before the emergence of Yoko into their lives.
In my view volume one is bias towards Cynthia and volume two towards Yoko as if to keep a balance between both parties who contributed to the books. This gives each volume a seperate identity but also illustrates a change of attitude by John which does seem to divide his life in two.
I remember Mark Lewisohn (who contributed a great deal of research to these books) saying why he thought ‘Shout’ was the mostdefinitive biography on the Beatles. He said that if you opened ‘Shout’ at more or less any page you would discover something you didn’t know before. I feel the same about John (Winston | Ono) Lennon, and for this reason it has to be the most definitive biography about John Lennon to date,
Gwyn Jenkins. [1985 – Issue 18].