After a long time searching, I’ve finally got hold of a second-hand copy of “Lennon Legend – An Illustrated Life of John Lennon“, a book by James Henke (and designer Katie LeClerq) which first came out back in 2003. This is one of those books that you can literally delve into because as well as lots of text and photos about the life and times of John Lennon it also has a broad selection of replica memorabilia scattered throughout its pages, tucked away in little holders and pockets. For example hand-written lyric sheets like this one for “In My Life” from the Rubber Soul album of 1965:
In this regard, this book is very similar to “Treasures of the Beatles” which I wrote about here, but I think its of higher quality than that book in it’s attention to detail. “Lennon Legend” traces John’s life from the early days in Liverpool and has reproductions of a little school magazine he produced (called “The Daily Howl” from 1950) and a Christmas, 1955 report card from Quarry Bank High School when Lennon was aged 15 years and 2 months old:
You may be able to make out above that in English J.W.Lennon is “….capable of good work and has done quite well”, in Geography “…he is undoubtedly trying harder in his new form. Hope he keeps it up”, but in French John’s results are disappointing: “He is so fond of obtaining a cheap laugh in class that he has little time left for serious contribution.” John’s headmaster notes (in red) “The best report he has had for a long time. I hope this means that he has turned over a new leaf.”
As the Beatles become better known the memorabilia in the book reflects their journey. There’s a little Cavern Club membership booklet from 1964, which contains this advice to patrons: “IMPORTANT Handbags, coats, shoes, hats, umbrellas etc. must NOT be left lying around the Club UNDER SEATS, in the toilets….or anywhere where you cannot look after them. Your property is your responsibility. USE THE CLOAKROOMS!“:
You get a set of miniature movie posters for “A Hard Day s Night”, and a replica of an original ticket to the film’s Royal World Premiere at the London Pavilion:
Moving on to when John and Yoko were in the thick of their peace campaign (combined with art “events”), on one page of the book in a small pocket there’s a small card tag (below). In July, 1968 one of these was attached to a helium-filled balloon (and there were 365 of them), and released into the skies over London to promote John’s first art exhibition called “You Are Here”:
In a similar vein is a replica sheet – a typed “Declaration” from 1973 (note the date of April 1st) of the establishment by John and Yoko of an imaginary country called Nutopia:
Along with the Declaration you get a miniature Nutopian national flag – which is simply an all-white piece of cloth with no colours or emblems…
“Lennon Legend” also comes with a CD containing 60 minutes of interviews and music. Here’s one of the interviews. John is on radio station WNEW on September 28, 1974. (WNEW was an AM station located in New York, but changed its call sign to WBBR in 1992). In this extract he’s talking about the Beatles:
The CD also contains a live version of “Imagine”, recorded on the long-running US daytime TV talk show hosted by Mike Douglas. John and Yoko co-hosted the show for a week in February 1972. You can see that version of “Imagine” here:
The book takes the Lennon history up to “Double Fantasy”, and of course his tragic murder.
This is just a small taste of the content inside. “Lennon Legend – An Illustrated Life of John Lennon” by James Henke comes in a hard cardboard slipcase and was published by Chronicle Books in 2003.