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LIFE John Lennon

LIFE John Lennon

LIFE John Lennon

LIFE John Lennon

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United States
Meredith Corporation

in this issue

4 min
harry benson remembers

“In Paris they had a beautiful suite in the George V. It had a large living room with a piano, where they’d play and compose. My room down the hall had two big beds. George slept there a few nights as the others were partying so late. John took that picture of me [above] as a Beatle.” One photographer was there at the beginning, and after the end. Harry Benson (above, between Paul and Ringo) was a native Scotsman working as a young newspaperman on London’s Fleet Street when, “on January 13, 1964, to be exact, the night desk editor called to say I was to go to Paris the next day with a new pop group. I was all packed—had gotten the necessary shots—to leave the next day for Nairobi.…

3 min
bob gruen remembers

“I didn’t know the Beatles,” says Bob Gruen simply. “I knew John.” Gruen (above, at left) got to know Lennon, along with Yoko, starting in the spring of ’72, when he shot the couple’s backup band, Elephant’s Memory. “We got along really well, and I started spending more time with them. At the time, they were living in Greenwich Village on Bank Street, right near me. “I found John to be very much as expected—open, witty, perceptive. He would tell these funny one-liners, and I always had a good time with him—a lot of fun. Yoko, too. John would never marry a humorless person, and there was a lot of laughter around them. People ask me what kind of woman Yoko is, and I answer, ‘The kind John Lennon would marry.’” At…

8 min
the fab four

July 6, 1957. The Quarry Men are signed to play a garden fete. It’s a big deal for them, and bassist Ivan Vaughan invites a friend named Paul McCartney to the show. During a break John and Paul meet. They are quite different chaps, but they have a few things in common, one being a shared passion for music. Paul impresses John with his singing. What’s more, Paul can tune a guitar, something that has thus far eluded John. Two weeks later, Paul becomes a Quarry Man. The band continues to hone its skills, occasionally even in public. Before long another boy begins hanging around. He is a bit younger, and thinks the Quarry Men are the greatest. Eventually they let him play with them, not least because he knows a…

3 min
allan tannenbaum remembers

He has covered the Intifada in the Middle East and the first Gulf War. He has made Time cover photos of the American military figure Oliver North and Israel’s Ariel Sharon. He has twice—in 1993 and on September 11, 2001—raced with his cameras from his Manhattan apartment to cover terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center. And yet Allan Tannenbaum (above) says, “Those photos of John and Yoko represent one of the most significant moments not only in my career but in my life. They’re as important to me as any pictures I’ve made.” That’s because of who Tannenbaum is—what matters to him, what informed his upbringing and philosophy—and because of events that unfolded soon after Tannenbaum’s short but intimate association with John and Yoko began. “In the ’60s I was a…

4 min
a liverpool lad

October 9, 1940. Bombs are falling on Britain as Germany is trying to blast the little nation into submission. Liverpool, an important port city in the northwest part of the country, is taking a particularly hard pounding. On this day, during a brief lull in the bombardment, a child is born at the Oxford Street Maternity Hospital. His name is John Winston Lennon. John’s father, Alfred, is away at sea, and will never have much of a part in his son’s life. The mother, Julia, is temperamental, ill-prepared for raising a son on her own, and frankly not that interested in the job. However, Julia’s sister Mary Smith, better known as Mimi, is a different matter. She adores the boy; it is she who choses his name. With Julia out and…

3 min
robert whitaker remembers

“In doing portraits, I usually put some objects in the photograph as a point of reference as to who or what the subject is. With him, I put peacock feathers around his head. He loved the idea, then went to see an exhibition I had up at the time. He asked me if I wanted to return to London and work for him.” That was the late Bob Whitaker, who died in 2011, describing a day in Melbourne when he was a young English photographer working abroad. It was 1964 and the subject of the session was not John Lennon or any of the other Beatles, who were on a tour Down Under. It was their manager, peacocky Brian Epstein. At first, Whitaker demurred. “Then Brian said, ‘Well, come see the…