You may say he was a dreamer

Lennon was a singer, songwriter, actor, artist, poet, peace crusader, martyr and legend and more. On his 65th birth anniversary today, a look at all the trivia

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John Lennon was more than the sum of his parts — singer, songwriter, actor, artist, poet, peace crusader, martyr and legend. On his 65th birth anniversary today,  a look at all the trivia you never knew about the working class hero

His first musical instrument

It was the harmonica, but he switched to the guitar only because it carried a macho tag. In the 1950s (and later, too) women dug men who strummed a six-string and sang. But the transition wasn't easy. He learnt the banjo from his mother, Julia and then from his aunt Mimi. In his first band (The Quarry Men named after his alma mater The Quarry Bank), he played banjo chords on the guitar, until his Beatle partner Paul McCartney taught him the right chord formations. Lennon practised the guitar for 16 hours a day till he got it right. Through his solo career, the piano became his most favoured instrument.

George, the first

Paul McCartney was the first Beatle to embark on a musical journey with John, but George Harrison was the first Beatle to make his acquaintance. Both attended the Dovetail Road Primary school in Liverpool, and John who was three years older, only knew George by sight.

Before the Beatles

Lennon's first group was a skiffle (a type of music popular in the 1950s and was a blend of jazz and folk music) outfit in high school called The Quarry Men, which later became Johnny and the Moondogs followed by The Silver Beetles (which was a tribute to the late Buddy Holly's group, The Crickets) and finally The Beatles.

Teachers and disciples

He was influenced by artists like Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Donovan, Gary "US" Bonds, The Isley Brothers, The Miracles and The Lovin' Spoonful. But none of their albums featured as his best loved. A few months before his before his death, he declared The B-52's self-titled debut to be his favourite album of all-time. Famous artists he influenced include Ozzy Osborne, Roger Waters, Syd Barett, Noel Gallagher, Steve Miller, Jeff Lynn, Cilla Black, Robbie Williams and Kurt Cobain. His song, 'In My Life' was played at Cobain's funeral service.

Nine is fine

The number nine played a very important role in his Life. He was born on October 9, and died at 11 pm on December 8, 1980 in New York, but back in his homeland England (five hours ahead), it was already December 9. Two of his compositions featured the same number, The Beatle's hit, 'Revolution 9' and his solo effort, '#9 Dream'. Son Sean was born on his 35th birthday (October 9). In the Kabala faith, the name John adds up to nine. J is one, O is seven, and H and N can be counted as five each. The year he died also adds up to the number nine.

The art of pseudonyms

He used a number of pseudonyms in his musical career. The more popular ones are Booker Table, Dwarf McDougal, Rev Fred Ghurkin, Joel Nohnn, Kaptain Kundalini, Dr Winston O'Boogie, The Honorable John St John Johnson, Dr Dream, Mel Torment, Winston Leg-Thigh, John O'Cean and Dad.

Primal Scream connection

His album John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band featuring hits like 'Mother', 'Love', 'God' and 'Working Class Hero' was inspired by his sessions with psychiatrist Arthur Janov who  in his book The Primal Scream, recommended screaming as a form of therapy. Following a drug conviction in 1968, he was denied entry into the US in 1969. Dr Janov arranged a medical visa for Lennon in 1970, saying he and Yoko had come to him for treatment. Another famous act inspired by Dr Janov's work was Tears For Fears. Their smash album, Songs From The Big Chair was a product of their fascination with the book.


On December 8, 1980, Mark Chapman, a crazed fan pumped five hollow point bullets into John Lennon's back and shoulder. After his .38 charter arms revolver was kicked away by Jose Pedromo, Chapman took of his coat, placed it at his feet and started reading JD Salinger's novel, Catcher In The Rye. Chillingly, when Lennon was asked how he expected to die sometime in 1960, his offhand answer was, "I'll probably be popped off by some loony." Talk about predicting your own death!

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