Lennon Legend: An Illustrated Life of John Lennon
is probably the most attractive tribute to the singer yet produced. He may never have been the working-class hero that he liked to present himself as but his raw talent, anti-authoritarian tone and charismatic personality has made him (since his death) a nigh-legendary figure.
Is it a book? Is it a collection of memorabilia? Is it a CD? In fact, it's all three (and more) crammed into a highly tempting package that will be an essential purchase for most Beatles aficionados. James Henke has assembled a remarkable document, describing the life of the troubled young musician and socially committed rebel whose influence is still felt today. The coverage here is complete: from the early days of the Beatles' burgeoning success to the moment they virtually took over the world, and the acrimonious break-up of the group (right up to Lennon's assassination by a disaffected loner in New York).
But what makes this retelling of a familiar tale so unusual is the format--personal papers, song lyrics written in Lennon's own hand, sketches and much other material is reproduced unaltered, a great deal of which may be removed from pockets in the book to be examined individually.
More controversial aspects of the Beatles' legend is not examined in detail (such as the schism in the group created by Lennon's relationship with Yoko Ono--after all, her own archives provided much of the material here), but that's not the point of the book. This is no scalpel-sharp examination of a complex man, but a celebration of a highly individual talent. And as an object in itself, whether it's a book or not--Lennon Legend is irresistible. --Barry Forshaw
'Lennon Legend is the bible for all Lennon fans, and once I'd discovered why he fell for Yoko ("I am a cloud. Watch for me in the sky" she told him in a letter) I knew this was the book to get to the heart of the man. It is stuffed with memorabilia galore - letters, drawings, songs and a CD interview with John. Incredible, and should be purchased with 'so this is Christmas' tinkling through the mind.' (JACK magazine (Nov '03) illustrated review
'There are some dry books about Lennon, cataloguing every fart and tantrum from the sadly assassinated, troubled genius... This volume is more interesting: as well as a light commentary on his life and projects there's a whole load of pull-out material: copies of school reports, joke newspapers, lyric sheets, peace-campaigning literature, cartoons, and Beatle memorabilia. It's all been reproduced faithfully and placed in little pockets. A masterstroke of gimmickry.' (FRONT MAGAZINE (Dec '03) 5 'thumbs-up' review
'An opulent production including a bonus CD, this book is amazing value for diehard fans.' (THE INDEPENDENT 5/12/03
'... a treat for the truly obsessive fan. Laid out like a scrapbook, each page includes wallets and envelopes housing facsimiles of memorabilia... all so faithfully reproduced as to give the collector of Lennon trivia the sensation of being sole curator. Crucially, this is the first life to be approved and authorised by Yoko; the author is a former Rolling Stone journalist and friend of Lennon's and his text ... recounts the history simply and cleanly.' (THE OBSERVER 7/12/03
'The text provides a comprehensive picture of Lennon, from art school to Dakota building, by James Henke from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Rolling Stone. What really sets this apart though, is a plethora of individually reproduced memorabilia, from the 1957 St Peter's Garden Fete programme, featureing the Quarry Men, where John first met Paul, to handwritten lyrics of 'Day Tripper' and 'Imagine'. **** (OMM (Observer Music Monthly) December 2003
'Ever wondered what John Lennon's school report looked like? Or the piece of paper on which he composed the lyrics to 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'? Now you can find out, thanks to LENNON LEGEND. This extraordinary exercise in beatification contains a short account of his life, a CD featuring interviews with him and, neatly tucked away between the symbolic 64 pages, ersaz memorabilia you can pull out and pretend is real.' (Ludovic Hunter-Tilney FINANCIAL TIMES
'LENNON LEGEND is a unique biography of the Beatles star, which features pull-out facsimiles of posters, tickets, lyric sheets, scribbles, contracts - even a business card for the The Quarry Men.' (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY