Before John Lennon became New York City's Best Damn Househusband, he was once a member of the popular British singing group, the Beatles. As the leader of the band, he was in charge of all the major functions from hiring and firing the help to making sure the other members didn't step out of line and begin sleeping with each other's girlfriends. He also wrote many of the songs, played and sang on the records, and had his picture taken a lot. From the group's first single, "Love Me Do," in 1962 through their final released album, 1970's Let It Be (Abbey Road was actually recorded last but let's not get too picky here), John Lennon was a lightning rod for controversy and while posing naked with his soon to be second wife Yoko Ono isn't the way I wish to remember him, it seemed to fit him just fine.
My other lists remembering the man celebrate his best and worst songs. (I like to think of this as the "multi-faceted" look.) Here, I'd like to remember a few--five, in fact, moments...
"Would the people in the cheap seats clap your hands and the rest of you just rattle your jewelry" or something like that says John Lennon at the Beatles' 1963 Royal Command performance. For some reason in England, if you get too popular they make you play for the Royal Family. Which I'm sure is a royal pain in the ass.
In His Own Write: Ok, Lennon's no Jewel. But he did manage to write his first book and then a second while the band was really busy putting out five albums a year and writing a hit single every other week. And it's not bad when compared to say The Collected Works of Jim Morrison or Ozzy Osbourne: I Forgot to Remember to Forget and Other Tales.
"More Popular Than Jesus": Nothing gets people madder faster than religious based comparisons. Forever the astute businessman, though, Lennon must've figured that record burning parties would only foster new record sales in the end, since most of the people burning their records would wake up the next day and realize they no longer owned any Beatle records. At some point, they'd feel "burner's remorse" and buy back the catalog at inflationary prices. So sure he tells the press the Beatles are more popular than Jesus now and the streets are alive with smells of burning vinyl.
"Revolution #9": Lennon decides he's beyond music and realizes that he's so popular (by his own estimation, than Jesus!) that he can do whatever he wants, so he and his soon to be second wife Yoko Ono raid the sound library at Abbey Road studios and start making sound collages that no one wants to listen to twice. But it sure is fun looping all the tape and saying stupid things into the microphone, all the while knowing that it's going to take up three times the space of that "Honey Pie" crap McCartney's working on in the other studio!
Wheeling Yoko's Bed Into The Recording Studio: Some people wish they had been there when the Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper's. Not me. I'd rather have been there the day they walk in and Yoko Ono is resting in the bed that's suddenly in the recording studio. Talk about the elephant in the room! "So, how's the weather out there, George? Cup of tea? Don't mind if I do? Uh, John, are you serious?"