John Lennon: Penny Lane is a suburban district where I lived with my mother and father (although my father was a sailor, always at sea), and my grandfather. I lived on a street called Newcastle Road.
That's the first place I remember. It's a good way to start - red brick; front room never used, always curtains drawn, picture of a horse and carriage on the wall. There were only three bedrooms upstairs, one on the front of the street, one in the back, and one teeny little room in the middle.
There's also this one which seems to fit the same time-frame.
John: There were five women that were my family. Five strong, intelligent, beautiful women; five sisters. One happened to be my mother. My mother just couldn't deal with life. She was the youngest and she couldn't cope with me and I ended up living with her elder sister.
Those women were fantastic. One day I might do a kind of Forsyte Saga about them, because they dominated the situation in the family.
The men were invisible. I was always with the women. I always heard them talk about men and talk about life, and they always knew what was going on. The men never ever knew. That was my first feminist education.
John: I was always a homebody, I think that a lot of musicians are - you write and you play in the house. When I was wanting to be a painter when I was younger, or write poetry, it was always in the house. I spent a lot of time reading. Hanging around the home never bothered me. I enjoy it. I love it. I thought it was because I was an only child. Although I had half-sisters, I lived alone. I always tripped out on my own or in books.
Aunt Anne 'Nanny' and cousin Michael from 'over the water' visit 'Mendips'. John pulls Michael's toy car along Menlove Avenue while Nanny watches from the gate. Note: The new John and Yoko/Plastic Ono Band book dates these photos as 1948 and says this is cousin David.
Thankyou for the book that you sent to me for Christmas and for the towel with my name on it, And I think it is the best towel I have ever seen.
The book that you sent to me is a very interesting one. I am at the bottom of page 18 at the moment. The story is famous Ships it’s all about a man called Captain Kidd the pirate.
I am on the second chapter, the first chapter is called the Victory and the second chapter is called the Mary Celeste.
Thankyou for the red jumper that you sent to me.
I hope you have a happy new year. Love from
I was aggressive because I wanted to be popular. I wanted to be the leader. It seemed more attractive than just being one of the toffees. I wanted everybody to do what I told them to do, to laugh at my jokes and let me be the boss. I suppose I did try to do a bit of school work at first, as I often did at Dovedale. I'd been honest at Dovedale, if nothing else, always owning up. But I began to realise that was foolish; they just got you. So I started lying about everything.
I was obviously musical from very early, and I wonder why nobody ever did anything about it - maybe because they couldn't afford it. [When I was young] I was traveling to Edinburgh on my own to see my auntie, and I played the mouth organ all the way up on the bus. The driver liked it and told me to meet him at a place in Edinburgh the next morning and he'd give me a fantastic one. It really got me going. I also had a little accordion which I used to play - only the right hand - and I played the same things on this that I played on mouth organ, things like 'Swedish Rhapsody', 'Moulin Rouge' and 'Greensleeves'.
After Stan reunited John with his mother he would make frequent visits to see her and his two half-sisters at their house in Blomfield Road, Springwood, especially after he started at Quarry Bank school. As he got older he began staying over at weekends and during holidays.
Paul: His mum lived right near where I lived. I had lost my mum, that's one thing, but for your mum to actually be living somewhere else and for you to be a teenage boy and not living with her is very sad. It's horrible. I remember him not liking it at all. John and I would go and visit her and she'd be very nice but when we left there was always a tinge of sadness about John. On the way back I could always tell that he loved the visit and he loved her but was very sad that he didn't live with her. Being John, he didn't admit to it much unless it was a very quiet or drunken moment when he felt he could let his guard down. He loved his Aunt Mimi, I know he did, but she was always the surrogate.
I used to embarrass authority by chanting out a weird version of 'The Happy Wanderer' at inappropriate moments. I was suspended for a spell. I think it was for eating chocolate in prayers or ducking a swimming instructor; something daft like that.
One maths master wrote, 'He's on the road to failure if he carries on this way.' Most of them disliked me, but there was always one teacher in each school, usually an art teacher or English language or literature. If it was anything to do with art or writing, I was OK, but if it was anything to do with science or maths, I couldn't get it in.
John: I was fairly tough at school, but I could organise it so is seemed like I was tough. It used to get me into trouble. I used to dress tough like a Teddy boy, but if I went into the tough districts and came across other Teddy boys, I was in danger. At school it was easier because I could control it with my head so they thought I was tougher than I was. It was a game. I mean, we used to shoplift and all those things, but nothing really heavy. Liverpool's quite a tough city. A lot of the real Teddy boys were actually in their early twenties. They were dockers. We were only fifteen, we were only kids - they had hatchets, belts, bicycle chains and real weapons. We never really got into that, and if somebody came in front of us we ran, me and my gang.
The sort of gang I led went in for things like shoplifting and pulling girls' knickers down. When the bomb fell and everyone got caught, I was always the one they missed. I was scared at the time, but Mimi was the only parent who never found out. Most of the masters hated me like sh*t. As I got older, we'd go on from just stuffing rubbish like sweets in our pockets from shops, and progressed to getting enough to sell to others, like ciggies
I used to borrow a guitar at first. I couldn't play, but my mother bought me one from one of those mail-order firms. It was a bit crummy, but I played it all the time and got a lot of practice. I played the guitar like a banjo, with the sixth string hanging loose. My first guitar cost £10. All I ever wanted to do was to vamp; I only learnt to play to back myself.
When I got the guitar I'd play it for a bit then give it up, then take it up again. It took me about two years, on and off, to be able to strum tunes without thinking. I think I had one lesson, but it was so much like school I gave up. I learnt mostly by picking up bits here and there. One of the first things I learnt was 'Ain't That A Shame' and it has a lot of memories for me. Then I learnt 'That'll Be The Day'. I learned the solos on 'Johnny B. Goode' and 'Carol', but I couldn't play the one on 'Blue Suede Shoes'. In those days I was very much influenced by Chuck Berry, Scotty Moore and Carl Perkins.
The best quote Mimi ever said was: 'The guitar's all right for a hobby, John, but you'll never make a living at it.'
John: This fella I knew called Don Beattie showed me the name Elvis Presley in the New Musical Express and said he was great. It was 'Heartbreak Hotel'. I thought it sounded a bit phoney: 'Heart-break Hotel'.
The music papers were saying that Presley was fantastic, and at first I expected someone like Perry Como or Sinatra. 'Heartbreak Hotel' seemed a corny title and his name seemed strange in those days. But then, when I heard it, it was the end for me. I first heard it on Radio Luxembourg. He turned out to be fantastic. I remember rushing home with the record and saying, 'He sounds like Frankie Laine and Johnnie Ray and Tennessee Ernie Ford!'
John: Little Richard was one of the all-time greats. The first time I heard him a friend of mine [Michael Hill] had been to Holland and brought back a 78 with 'Long Tall Sally' on one side, and 'Slippin' And Slidin'' on the other. It blew our heads - we'd never heard anybody sing like that in our lives, and all those saxes playing like crazy.
John: Anyway, we always failed the exams and never did any work and Pete was always worried about his future. I would say, 'Don't worry, it'll work out,' to him and the gang that was around me then. I always had a group of three or four or five guys around with me who would play various roles in my life, supportive and subservient. In general, me being the bully boy. The Beatles became my new gang.
I always believed that something would turn up. I didn't make plans for the future. I didn't study for the exam. I didn't put a little bit on the side, I wasn't capable. Therefore I was the one that all the other boys' parents would say, 'Keep away from him.' Because they knew what I was. The parents instinctively recognized I was a troublemaker, meaning I did not conform and I would influence their children, which I did. I did my best to disrupt every friend's home. Partly out of envy that I didn't have this so-called home. (But I did. I had an auntie and an uncle and a nice suburban home. This image of me being the orphan is garbage because I was well protected by my auntie and my uncle, and they looked after me very well.)
I think I went a bit wild. I was just drifting. I wouldn't study at school, and when I was put in for nine GCEs I was a hopeless failure. Even in the mock I got English and art, but in the real one I didn't even get art.
I was disappointed at not getting art at GCE, but I'd given up. All they were interested in was neatness. I was never heat. I used to mix all the colours together. We had one question which said do a picture of 'travel'. I drew a picture of a hunchback with warts all over him. They obviously didn't dig that.
We knew that the GCE wasn't the opening to anything. We could have ground through all that and gone further, but not me. I believed something was going to happen which I'd have to get through - and I knew it wasn't GCE.
The headmaster [of Quarry Bank], Pobjoy, recommended me to go to art school. He said, 'If he doesn't go there he may as well just pack up life.' So he arranged for me to go. I developed a great sense of humour and met some great people and had a laugh and played Rock 'n' Roll. (Of course, I was playing Rock 'n' Roll during all this time at grammar school, developing the basic form of the music.)
I wasn't really keen. I thought it would be a crowd of old men, but I should make the effort to try and make something of myself. I stayed for five years doing commercial art.
I went because there didn't seem to be any hope for me in any other field and it was about the only thing I could do, possibly. But I didn't do very well there either, because I'm lazy.