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
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"He has too many of the wrong ambitions and his energy is too often misplaced," wrote the headmaster on John Lennon's report card in the summer of 1956, when Lennon was fifteen. We can agree with the headmaster only insofar as the young Lennon planned to devote his life to skiffle music. But once he devoted himself to rock & roll, he and the other Beatles overthrew the world.Literally hundreds of books have been written about Lennon, so why would you spend forty dollars on a sixty-four-page volume? The text, by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame curator (and former "Rolling Stone" editor) James Henke, is fluid and well-researched -- but "Legend" was produced with help from the Lennon estate, so don't expect any album to be referred to as anything less than a triumph, except by implication, when the next one is a "return to form." The book shines by including dozens of reproduced items from Lennon's life and career, stuck into pockets throughout; reading "Legend" is like flipping through a sophisticated pop-up book for Beatles fans. Some of the inventory: handwritten lyrics to "Imagine," Beatles bubblegum cards circa 1963, and a full-page 1979 ad he and Yoko Ono took out in the "New York Times" to explain why they had seemingly disappeared from public life. There's also an hour-long CD of Lennon interviews. Best of all the reproductions is the "Daily Howl", Lennon's handmade schoolboy newspaper, filled with cartoons and humor such as "Our late editor is dead, he died of death, which killed him." This volume captures some of the ephemeral whimsy and genius of Lennon's life. -Rolling Stone Magazine