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Over 30 years after their acrimonious split, it is undeniable that The Beatles were much more than a regular pop group; they represented a cultural phenomenon of the 20th-century. For the Fab Four themselves, the immediate aftermath of the band became a time for soul searching and reasserting the individuality once submerged within "The Beatles". Lennon Remembers, an extended transcript of the legendary 1970 interview between Rolling Stone magazine's Jann Wenner and John Lennon reveals this process at its most painful, angry and bitter.
Now re-edited to incorporate previously deleted passages (many of which consist of less-than-vital comments from Lennon's then-permanent companion Yoko Ono), Lennon Remembers sees the 30-year-old ex-Beatle determinedly shattering what he saw as the "myth" of his former group. From their clean-cut image ("[our tours] were like Fellini's Satyricon"), to the reasons for their split ("We were fed up of being sidemen for Paul"), and revelations of his drug abuse ("We were full of junk"), Lennon's anger burns from every page.
While undeniably entertaining, the force of Lennon's claims can also make uncomfortable reading. As Yoko Ono herself notes in her introduction, Wenner's interview sees an insecure Lennon, hitting back "and doing a bad job of it". Indeed, his bitterness and anger often leads to personal attacks on such former friends as Brian Epstein, George Harrison and, most hurtfully, Paul McCartney, that are almost unforgivably cruel. However, throughout there remain hints of an abiding respect for his former musical and personal partners. Indeed hints of the old-gang mentality are revealed as he comments at one stage, "I can knock The Beatles"--his implication that others should have more respect suggesting a pride in the group's achievements that is elsewhere buried beneath the weight of bitter reminiscence.
Thankfully, however, despite his tirade, Lennon's humour and humanity is never far from the surface, and it is this that makes Wenner's interview such an ultimately rewarding read. Lennon Remembers is recommended to all, not least as a revealing accompaniment to the more sanitised version of events given in the group's own "autobiography", The Beatles Anthology. --Steve Price [via]