John Lennon conjures up images of long haired hippies and all things love, right? Not if you watch the video above in which Lennon repeatedly mocks disabled people. And what do you think of when you remember his music? Love, understanding and peace — right? Right, but there’s a disconnect between what Lennon communicated in his songs and the way he conducted himself in real life.
For one thing, Lennon was cruel to first wife Cynthia, the woman he later admitted to hitting. And let us not forget his son, Julian, from that first marriage. Julian got nothing more than neglect from his father.
“Mum was more about love than Dad,” Julian remembers. “He sang about it, he spoke about, but he never really gave it, at least not to me as his son.”
You can’t even call our criticism of John Lennon as allegations because in 1980 Lennon did an interview with Playboy magazine, in which he admitted his trespasses:
“I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically — any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn’t express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything’s the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am not a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.”
The truth is that he didn’t necessarily get all that much better as he got older. If you’ve had the chance to see the famous interview-footage with Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone, you will have heard him brow-beating Yoko during the many hours he spent with his interviewer. In those reels, he’s completely disrespectful to Yoko.
As for his first wife, Cynthia, she wrote about Lennon’s cruel streak in an autobiography simply called John. All the same allegations reappeared in the critically acclaimed book John Lennon: The Life, by Beatles biographer Philip Norman.
Lennon’s first wife Cynthia is not the only person to experience violence at the hands of the iconic musician. Lennon once brutally attacked Bob Wooler, the man who was responsible for introducing The Beatles to their manager Brian Epstein. Wooler had been jokingly suggesting that John and Brian had gotten sexual together, but Lennon was not laughing. Wooler left John’s side that day with several broken ribs and was admitted to hospital. John later admitted that he’d stopped beating him only when he realized he was “actually going to kill him.”