Ray Connolly was alleged to arrive in New York Metropolis from his native England on Dec. 9, 1980 to go to his pal John Lennon for a couple of days at his residence within the Dakota constructing.
However after all it did not occur, as a result of on the night of Dec. eight the previous Beatle was shot and killed proper outdoors his house. Connolly, at this time a veteran journalist and screenwriter, not too long ago revealed “Being John Lennon,” a ebook he hopes will demystify the artist and unveil the complicated man he was.
“He’s both painted as a saint, a martyr or a monster,” mentioned Connolly. “John was neither of these issues. He was similar to all people else,” the British author informed Fox Information.
Connolly had acquired a cellphone from Lennon’s spouse Yoko Ono earlier on that doomed day, insisting he ought to go to the couple ASAP. On the time, Lennon was engaged on a follow-up album to “Double Fantasy,” which was launched that yr.
“I booked my airline ticket and went to mattress,” Connolly recalled. “I bear in mind earlier than I went to mattress, I known as his workplace to substantiate. I used to be informed, ‘John is actually trying ahead to seeing you. Come straight to the Dakota when you land.’ So I went to mattress. After which the cellphone rang. A reporter from The Day by day Mail mentioned, ‘Sorry to wake you,’ however have you ever heard the information?’ Lennon’s been shot.’ I mentioned, ‘No, no I’m going to see him at this time.’ Then I used to be informed, ‘No, Lennon’s been shot.’ I mentioned, ‘Is he damage? Badly damage?’ I went downstairs and turned on BBC radio… I used to be simply surprised. John Lennon was useless.”
A dialog he as soon as shared with Lennon would later flash in his thoughts.
“I bear in mind a couple of years again, John joked, ‘Have you ever written my obituary but?’ In fact, I by no means have. However then I discovered myself writing his obituary. It was terrible… Yoko had simply rung up on the day he died. I used to be alleged to arrive the subsequent day, the ninth. He had gone to get his haircut and I used to be placing my issues collectively. He was on the studio recording. He by no means obtained again house from the studio.”
A rep for Ono, 85, didn’t instantly reply to Fox Information’ request for remark in regards to the new biography.
Connolly was first launched to Lennon by bandmate Paul McCartney in 1967 throughout the launch of the “Magical Thriller Tour” album. Whereas his preliminary impression of Lennon was “distant,” the 2 would encounter one another once more in 1968 by way of Ono, whom he interviewed on the time.
“He was leaving The Beatles and he hadn’t informed anybody,” mentioned Connolly. “He informed me, however mentioned, ‘Don’t put it out till I inform you to.’ So I sat on it… then Paul put the story out that that they had damaged up. John would then inform me, ‘Why didn’t you write it once I informed you? I mentioned, ‘I believed you informed me to not!’ He mentioned, ‘You’re the journalist Connolly, not me.’ From then on, I went with him on his travels, in New York and his house in England. I assume I used to be very fortunate that we obtained alongside so effectively.”
Connolly mentioned Lennon on the time was craving to be extra of an avant grade artist who freely experiments than a rock ’n’ roll star.
“He was in all probability craving that for fairly a while, however couldn’t pursue it with hundreds of thousands of individuals screaming at him on a regular basis,” Connolly defined. “He wished to be greater than a rock star. He was very stressed. At all times stressed. At all times reinventing himself. He at all times wished to be totally different. Rock ’n’ roll simply wasn’t sufficient… Nothing was ever sufficient for him.”
However Lennon was additionally haunted by recollections from his childhood. As a toddler, his father Alfred was typically away at sea throughout World Battle II and didn’t see a lot of his son. His mom Julia, whom Connolly described as “a wild baby,” was allegedly with different suitors.
“Ultimately his dad and mom did break up,” Connolly defined. “And John was handed out to different folks within the household. Lastly, he ended up along with his aunt Mimi at age 5… He would see his mom fairly frequently, however John didn’t know she lived about a few miles away. He was residing along with his aunt Mimi and his mom was round this entire time.”
Julia was reportedly residing with a brand new associate and their two younger daughters on the time when Lennon was staying with Mimi.
Regardless of the tumultuous upbringing, Lennon reconnected with Julia throughout his teenage years by way of music. Whereas his aunt Mimi was no-nonsense and most popular Lennon specializing in his research, Julia launched him to rock ’n’ roll.
“Mimi thought rock ’n’ roll was a waste of time,” defined Connolly. “She hated all of that. However… his mom would play information. With Mimi, the one factor he was allowed to listen to was the Philharmonic Orchestra. In the meantime, when he would go to his mother, she would play Chuck Berry, Elvis or Fat Domino. That was thrilling to him.”
Julia additionally taught Lennon to play banjo and purchased him his first guitar. The primary tune she would train her son to play was ‘Ain’t Disgrace’ by Domino. She additionally inspired him to play in a band.
However at age 17, Lennon was confronted with tragedy. On July 15, 1958 Julia had left Mimi’s house when she was hit by a automobile and died at age 44. The driving force was an off-duty police officer who didn’t have a full driving license. Connolly mentioned the dying was a horrible blow to Lennon who turned an offended younger man.
“He turned very violent with Cynthia, his first spouse,” claimed Connolly. “He was very, very possessive. He would hit her typically. He needed to have somebody by his facet always. And all through his life, he at all times had somebody by his facet. He by no means did issues on his personal very a lot.”
Connolly added Lennon would continuously deliver up his mom throughout conversations they shared.
“I bear in mind so many instances… he would all of the sudden begin speaking about her,” he mentioned. “And he wrote that tune ‘Mom.’ The lyrics are very unhappy. Then he wrote the tune ‘Julia.’ She was at all times there within the background. He at all times questioned what might have been. He was completely devastated of shedding her.”
One in all Connolly’s most cherished recollections is when Lennon performed him the tune “Think about” in his Berkshire house earlier than the general public had the possibility to listen to it.
“He mentioned, ‘Come into my bed room, I wish to play you one thing,’” mentioned Connolly. “If he had a secret to inform you, it could at all times be within the bed room. And so he took me with Yoko into the bed room and performed me a document known as ‘Gimme Some Reality.’ He mentioned, ‘That’s my subsequent single.’ I believed it was OK however questioned what was on the opposite facet. After which he performed me ‘Think about.’ … which was impressed by Ono’s ebook ‘Grapefruit.’ I mentioned, ‘Absolutely that’s the A facet.’ Ono mentioned, ‘I like that one too.’ I noticed later he was simply testing me.”
On the evening of Dec. eight, 1980, 40-year-old Lennon was rushed in a police automobile to Roosevelt Hospital, the place he was pronounced useless shortly after arriving. Docs mentioned he suffered seven extreme wounds in his chest, again and left arm. The killer, Mark David Chapman, murdered Lennon hours after asking him to autograph an album.
Chapman, 63, is presently serving a 20-years-to-life sentence at Wende Correctional Facility. He shall be up for parole in August 2020.
The Related Press contributed to this report.