Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Pools Of Sorrow, Waves Of Joy.

I remember my mum waking me one night in 1977 two days before my birthday. Until that point the only things on my mind were whether or not I’d be getting a skateboard and a surprise party. The news she told me pushed these dreams out of my head. The King was dead.

Elvis, who had recently become my idol, was no longer with us. I don’t mind admitting that I cried myself back to sleep that night.

I never did get that skateboard or surprise party but I didn’t mind too much. It was the middle of a glorious August, not as hot as the one with the ladybirds, but sunshine and long summers seemed to be the fashion when I was a kid.

I got over Elvis dying. This was helped by the constant playing of his films on television.  We also had license to play his albums constantly unlike being told ‘enough was enough’ only weeks before.

I never thought I’d feel that way about a famous person’s death again. I didn’t catch the national grief when Diana died two decades later for instance, but my world would be rocked again just a few years after Elvis took his three steps to heaven.

Happiness is a warm gun.

The Comeback Kid.
Since the death of Elvis on 16th of August 1977 I had grown up. I had developed and matured in my musical tastes. I had flipped from Rock and Roll to punk and new wave. None of these resided too long in my musical heart. One musical force did however. It was a band that hailed from my home town. A band whose very streets I had walked, whose very houses I had passed and whose legacy would change the city where I lived forever.

That band were The Beatles of course. I was mad about them. I was in my own little Beatlemania world for a couple of years. I didn’t have much pocket money to buy records so I was grateful my brothers and sisters had every Beatle’s albums between them. I would sneak the records from their bedrooms and play them none stop on my hand-me-down Dansette portable turntable.

That is why I refused to believe the words my mum spoke to me once again. My new hero was dead. She showed me the newspaper with its haunting headline, ‘John Lennon Murdered’. My own life ended a little on that day too.  
                                                                "Before Elvis there was nothing."
                                                                         - John Lennon

nce again I had been looking forward to presents, Christmas ones this time. Only now I had asked for an acoustic guitar like Lennon played instead of the Americana of a skateboard that symbolised my obsession with that great American hero of Elvis Aaron Presley.

I did get what I wished for this time. Was it something to do with rock and roll lightning striking me twice? Maybe it was due to the nation all turning to their own guitars and re-learning the classic Beatles songs once again. Whatever the reason I started my journey as a musician that day. It was fated like the death of the two greatest Rock and Roll giants had been fated to such early deaths.

"Laurel and Hardy, that's John and Yoko.
And we stand a better chance under that guise
because all the serious people like Martin Luther King
and Kennedy and Gandhi got shot."

John Lennon

Candles were lit in Liverpool and New York, the two homes in Lennon’s heart. These  were not just torches to celebrate the birth of the messiah but votives to mourn the death of our own guiding light.

A working class hero.

Liverpool changed and continues to change since John Lennon’s death. We owe a lot to his music and the other three members of course. It is sad to say that without that fatal bullet from Mark Chapman’s gun we would still be a city in ruins, a ghetto of Europe rather than its capital of culture just twenty eight years after the murder of our most famous son.

John Lennon didn’t just revive the tourist industry in the city of Liverpool, nor inject countless millions of dollars and Yen into our local economy.  He revived our own spirit and sense of worth. Some people may have started to forget the Beatles or turned to newer sounds. But after his death we all remembered the potential we had in this city and the greatness that can bloom from our country if we believe in our dreams. With enough support to those that have passion in their belly and hard work on their minds we can create truly great Britons.

One could argue that John Lennon was the fire that dragged us though the dark days of Thatcher and the Marxist tendencies of local politics that threatened to tear our city apart. One could argue that his memory has been sold to pay for gleaming hotels and a glut of trendy bars and restaurants that litter the streets of Liverpool the way discarded bin bags once did.

Either way I think we can all stop and remember a great man with a great talent that we had the fortune to have with us for forty short years but whose legacy seems almost eternal.

Give Peace a Chance.
I will be lighting one more candle today on the anniversary of Lennon’s murder. It is thirty years since we lost this great son not only of Liverpool, but England and the adopted son of New York City.

John Lennon MBE, 9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980.
 ‘Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.’


  1. A beautiful and very personal homage, Anthony.

  2. Thank you Lily. This day does cut like no other for me.


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