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Review: Lennon, 'Revealed' and remembered

By L.D. Meagher
CNN

cover.lennon.jpg

'Lennon Revealed'

  • By Larry Kane
  • Running Press
  • Biography
  • 296 pages
  • 'Memories of John Lennon'

  • Edited and introduced by Yoko Ono
  • HarperEntertainment
  • Non-fiction
  • 320 pages
  • RELATED

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    Review
    John Lennon

    (CNN) -- In 1964, a 21-year-old radio reporter bluffed his way into the official entourage of the first U.S. concert tour by the Beatles. Forty years later, he's still talking about it.

    But that's not all Larry Kane is talking about. The veteran TV anchorman developed relationships with all four members of the band during their tours. But he found himself repeatedly drawn to John Lennon.

    Kane chronicled life on the road with the Beatles in "Ticket to Ride" (2003). Now, he focuses on the man who mocked him, challenged him, insulted him and delighted him for the next decade and a half.

    Kane goes beyond sharing anecdotes of Lennon. He fleshes them out with stories from dozens of people who knew Lennon at every stage of his life -- in Liverpool, at the height of Beatlemania, during the "lost weekend" and in his final, quieter years. Many of those stories are told here for the first time.

    There is also an examination of what Kane calls the real "loves" of Lennon's life -- Yoko Ono and Cynthia Lennon, naturally, but also his school chum and erstwhile bandmate Stu Sutcliffe and (believe it or not) May Pang, the assistant Yoko thrust at her husband as a companion in the middle 1970's. The result is an open-eyed appreciation of the man and his music -- warts and all.

    The book is packaged with a companion DVD that contains, among other things, a glimpse of Lennon as (no kidding) a TV weatherman. Kane packs his narrative with gems of trivia that will delight fans, while providing insights that may help non-fans (if any exist) to understand what all the fuss was -- and is -- about.

    'Memories of John Lennon,' edited and introduced by Yoko Ono

    One would think the widow of John Lennon would be brimming over with stories to tell about her celebrated partner in life. One would be wrong.

    "Memories of John Lennon," a compilation edited by Yoko Ono, contains precious few of her own recollections. In her introduction, she writes that she is not yet ready to tell those stories, and may never be.

    Instead, she has collected reflections from a diverse collection of people -- musicians, photographers, journalists, activists and celebrities, many of whom never met John. There are a few representatives of the "old days" -- Astrid Kirchherr and Klaus Voormann from Hamburg, singer Billy J. Kramer, Mick Jagger. There's even a reminiscence from John's cousin Mike Cadwallader, who also grew up in Liverpool.

    "There was always just 'something' about John," he recalls. "We lived in a pretty conventional, postwar, 1950s family, and he had a sort of aura, a feeling."

    In the main, though, the memories Yoko collects are those of "her" John Lennon, the ex-Beatle who clashed with governments, defied convention, spoke out for peace and baked bread for his younger son. Her own, very short contribution (credited, curiously, to Yoko Ono Lennon) relates a rather painful experience from early in their relationship.

    Mostly, the tributes are glowing and undoubtedly sincere. Still, one wonders if Pete Townshend would have asserted, "Yoko facilitated John's true genius," had someone else been editing his words.

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