When I was five years old, my father brought home a present for me! It was a 45 rpm record of The Beatles, “A Hard Day’s Night”. I played that over and over on my little record player along with the “B” side, “I Should Have Known Better”. I really had no idea who The Beatles were and how their music would come to influence me as a teen and over the years as an adult. As a kid, I had no preference for a particular Beatle but as time went by, I was drawn to John Lennon, his activism, his artwork, and his lyrics. Today, I listen to Lennon regularly and am continually amazed by his songwriting skills.
John Lennon Remembered
This year celebrates what would be John’s 80th birthday on Friday, October 9th! It’s hard to believe that John left us “all those years ago,” as George wrote back in 1981. John’s influence on music is as prevalent as ever. “Imagine” has become a worldwide anthem honoring the human spirit. His life is celebrated in many ways; in many countries, His art has been shown in retrospectives worldwide. Locally, St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota hosted Lennon’s artwork show in 2009! Statues are dedicated to him in Cuba, Spain, Peru, Liverpool, and the Hard Rock in Washington, D.C. For fans on the Suncoast, there is a statue of Lennon in downtown Tampa at the Barrymore Hotel on the Riverwalk!
Strawberry Fields in New York City’s Central Park, where visitors from around the globe make the pilgrimage to the famous “Imagine” sculpture to honor the musician. There are usually a few artists strumming guitars and singing Lennon and Beatles songs with the crowd joining in. Right across the street is John and Yoko’s residence at “The Dakota.” John loved New York City, and that shines through in his video for 1973’s “Mind Games” or famed rock photographer Bob Gruen’s iconic photos of Lennon in that NYC t-shirt Gruen bought for five dollars on the street for John to wear for the photoshoot.
The Many Tributes
There are many virtual tributes around the Internet to celebrate John’s 80th! Starting with the 40th Annual Tribute Concert streaming for free at the Lennon Tribute website. Starting on October 9 at 7:00 pm EST and running through October 12th. Artists Patti Smith, Jackson Browne, Marc Cohn, Joan Osborne, and more will be performing Beatles and Lennon tunes. Producer Jack Douglas and Bob Gruen will reflect on their experiences in the Lennon camp. There will be never before seen footage from past tributes! SiriusXM Radio will have a week’s worth of exclusive specials on the Beatles Channel (Ch 18), which will replay on John’s birthday on Friday! Sean Ono Lennon will be the guest DJ in one segment. There will be a live call-in show for fans on Friday at 9 pm EST!
Morrison Hotel Gallery, located in NYC, L.A., and Maui, will have a virtual exhibition, “In His Life,” of amazing photographs from the 40 years of his life. Photographers work such as Bob Gruen and Jim Marshall, who has captured Lennon throughout his life, will be on display. Yoko has also donated four of John’s original handwritten sheet music of songs, including “Watching the Wheels.” You can check this out on the website HERE.
On BBC Radio 2, Sean Ono Lennon will do a two-part tribute interviewing his brother Julian, his godfather Elton John and Lennon’s songwriting partner and fellow Beatle Paul McCartney. This will be the first time Julian and Sean have publicly talked about their father together! This will be available for replay for 30 days following the original broadcast at HERE.
Released on October 9th, is “Gimme Some Truth. The Ultimate Mixes” A new 36-song collection totally remixed from scratch. Sean produced it, and the final remix was done at Abbey Road Studios in London. The collection is available in all formats – CD, vinyl, streaming, box set & digital and comes with a 124-page book that tells the stories of the songs along with hundreds of photos. A must-have for any Lennon fan or Beatles collector!
40 years may have gone by since John left us but his spirit lives on. Let us celebrate one of the greatest songwriters of our lifetime and pass the music on to the next generations! Happy 80th John Lennon!
Photos by Vicky Sullivan