John Lennon
John Winston Ono Lennon
, MBE (born John Winston Lennon; 9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English musician, singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a founder member of the Beatles, the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed band in the history of popular music. With Paul McCartney, he formed a songwriting partnership that is the most celebrated of the 20th century. When the group disbanded in 1970, Lennon embarked on a solo career that produced critically acclaimed albums. Lennon disengaged himself from the music business in 1975 to raise his infant son Sean, but re-emerged with Ono in 1980 with the new album "Double Fantasy". He was murdered three weeks after its release.

Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. Controversial through his political and peace activism, he moved to New York City in 1971, where his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a lengthy attempt by Richard Nixon's administration to deport him, while some of his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement.... (read more at Wikipedia)

Links to Peel

"John Lennon would come and stay with John Peel at his home at the height of his fame, when he needed a flavour of normality. Peel told me that Lennon loved to ride the tube trains in London. He’d go all the way to the end of the line, and he’d laugh to himself when people nudged each other and said,“Oh my goodness, that guy looks just like John Lennon.. but it can’t be!!" (Mary Anne Hobbs, Five Things I Learnt From John Peel)

The Beatles' "psychedelic" phase of 1966-67 was a major influence on much of the music Peel played on his Perfumed Garden show on Radio London and his early Top Gear programmes for the BBC. Of the individual Beatles, it was John Lennon who seemed to epitomise this era, in songs like "Strawberry Fields Forever", "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds", "A Day In The Life" and "I Am The Walrus" and in his increasingly "far-out" public image. Therefore, Lennon, who had become interested in the "underground" hippy culture after meeting Yoko Ono, was the only Beatle to strike up a friendship with Peel.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono appeared with Peel as studio guests on the Night Ride programme of 11 December 1968, promoting their new album, "Two Virgins" and previewing an underground event at the Royal Albert Hall, the Alchemical Wedding, which took place a week later, with the participants including Lennon and Yoko. In a conversation with Simon Armitage, when Peel was sitting in for a holidaying Mark Radcliffe, the DJ spoke about Lennon's appearance on the show and the reaction to it.. Armitage describes it, in a chapter of his book All Points North (Viking, 1998) devoted to his meeting with Peel and called 'Over The Top To Lancashire':

During the show, he had to read out a number of messages, and Lennon suggested that they all do it together, each of them reading one line of the announcement at a time. Lennon then suggested that they should punctuate the delivery with long, random pauses which they did. The next day, the BBC received a complaint from a vicar in the West Country, saying that the silences were obscene.

Lennon and Peel's friendship, according to Sheila, [1] dates from approximately a month before this, when Lennon called JP to ask him to donate blood to Yoko following her miscarriage. John was flattered to be asked, but was told his blood could not be used, since he had recently had jaundice and VD. Nevertheless, he and Lennon met up for a drink occasionally and Lennon continued to correspond with Peel even after moving to the States. JP at one point gifted him with a mutually admired record, Rosie And The Originals' Give Me Love. [1]

In 1987, Peel discussed his ties with Lennon with producer John Walters in the sixth programme of the series Peeling Back The Years:

JP: Around the time of the dissolution of the Beatles, when he was living with Yoko, I met them then, and you know, I used to see them from time to time. And one of those things, there are very few people actually in the whole of this history that I rather wished weren’t famous people, because I enjoyed their company a lot. But you realized you couldn’t go to the match with them or go around and have breakfast with them at the café, just because they were such celebrities life would be intolerable if you tried to do that. And John Lennon was one of those…
  JW: But of course Lennon was rather more than famous, because some people do become that. It was strange situation when the year before he was killed, he didn’t seem to mean anything.
  JP: No.
  JW: And then suddenly everyone in retrospect started to see him as a sort of almost like a philosopher of our time, almost like Gandhi or something. I mean, did you share in that, or how did you feel about that strange emotion and hysteria…
  JP: I thought it was complete nonsense.
  JW: …when he died?
  JP: I was phoned up at about 5 o’clock in the morning by Radio 4 and asked to go down and do a bit of a chat about John Lennon. And frankly it was only the fact that I was taken unawares and was still half asleep that I agreed to do it, because I hate that kind of professional friend of the dead routine. A lot of people seem to earn a living doing that. And I wished I hadn’t gone down there in the event. Because at that time he was writing stuff that was frankly rubbish, you know. I mean, the last LP and so forth, all that stuff was very, very substandard. And…
  JW: I mean, Lennon wasn’t much more when he died than George Harrison.
  JP: No. Which is a pity. Because I mean he had been so far removed from what was actually going on for so long. That’s why, obviously I would like to have the money that these people have, but I should hate to live the kind of unreality that they live, because it just means you miss out on so much.

If Peel was unimpressed by Lennon's comeback material, Lennon retained an affection for Peel and Sheila. According to Andy Peebles, who interviewed the singer for Radio One shortly before his death, Lennon asked after Peel and his wife, and told Peebles to give them his regards.


  • None

Other Shows Played

(The list below is compiled only from the database of this site and Lorcan's Tracklistings Archive and is far from complete. Please add further information if known.)

  • 09 December 1980: Peel comments on receiving news of death of Lennon earlier that day.


(The list below was compiled only from the Cover Versions page of this site. Please add more information if known.)

Artist | Track | First Known Play

See Also

External Links

  1. Margrave Of The Marshes, Corgi edition, pp.262-4. This also contains the anecdote where Lennon explained to JP that he read reviews of Beatles songs in order to find out what they were about.
  2. Mentioned by Peel the following evening.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.