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John's story

This is John Lennon. I think I must have had a happy contented childhood, because I don't remember anything special about it. There were no waves of sorrow, or of joy. I don't recall ever feeling desperately sad or unusually happy. I suppose this is as it should be. I think I lived a life of uninterrupted calm.

Unfortunately, that calm was suddenly shattered when my Mother died before my fourteenth birthday. Only those who have experienced such a tragedy can imagine how awful it is. I don't like talking about it because it's too great a sorrow to be publicised, but I hope all of you who have two parents living, will appreciate them.

After Mum died I went to live with Aunt Mimi. She's the greatest, bless her heart. We have a little house, with frilly curtains at the windows, and an old apple tree in the front garden. When I'm away from home, I think about Aunt Mimi and her frilly curtains and her apple tree, and I realise I'm fortunate, because though Mum was taken away from me I was given something very precious in return.

Growing up in Liverpool isn't much different from growing up in any other pat of the country. Life there is a bit tougher than in the south, because jobs are sometimes hard to find. It isn't a beautiful city architecturally, but it's got great atmosphere. The huge grey buildings that merge with the River Mersey; the cobbled streets; the unsightly tracks which used to carry the old trams, the countless jazz cellars beneath the warehouses around the dockland. If you are in the heart of heart of Liverpool very late at night, you might hear a girl singing, with a group of fellows harmonising for her, as they make their way through the narrow streets between the high buildings, to the coffee stall down by The Pierhead.

The Pierhead is where the boats come from in from Birkenhead and Tyneside, and where the tramps and the teenagers, the young and the old, meet in the early hours of the morning. Some of the old people have no homes to go to, and no one to care about them; the young, having good homes and people who care perhaps a little too much, stay out in search of independence. If you stay around long enough someone will be sure to start singing, and the others will join in, and you'll wonder if they really are just an unknown group, because they sing so well. So many people in Liverpool sing, and all ages from the tramps who have given up hope, to the kids who are full of it, are pop crazy. That's Merseyside for you.

I went to school at Dovedale Primary, and Quarry Bank Grammar. Reading writing and 'rithmetic over, I went on to the Liverpool College of Art. Art was always my best subject at school. I failed miserably at maths and Science, and wasn't to hot in history. According to my school reports I could have done better if I'd tried harder, and I wish now that I had. I think go to school too young. At 14 or 15 I couldn't have cared less whether Richard II and Bolingbroke were having a burn-up, or how many square X's I'd need to solve my algebra problem. I cared about music and girls, and saving up for a packet of fags.

The State give you ten to twelve years in which to learn in comparitive luxury, with long holidays in between. Once you leave school you have to resort to evening classes after a long day at work, or postal courses which cost a lot of money.

When I was at Dovedale, I knew George Harrison but only by sight, because of our age difference of nearly three years, which is a lot when you're as young as we were.

Later George went on to Liverpool Institute and I went to Quarry Bank. It was several years later that we got really keen on music, and Paul and I started teaching ourselves the guitar. After school each night we'd rush through our tea, and then meet, and practise our act. When we felt we were good enough we went for an audition, calling ourselves The Nurk Twins.

"Very good," the agent said after our performance, "I'll book you for a show in Reading."

"Great," we yelled,going potty with joy. We sang several songs in that show and a small proportion of Reading went mad on us.

It was then we started dreaming of a future in show business. Before that we hadn't dared to think about one. Unfotunately though, the Nurk Twins didn't altogether catch on, and we felt we'd do better in a larger group rather than as a duo. So we started and finished several groups until we got one together that had the beginnings of a new sound.

By then George had joined us, and so had a pal of ours who is now dead, called Stuart Sutcliffe. We began to do well as semi-pros. Then one day our big break came with an offer to appear at The Star Club, in Hamburg. This is a kind of super-Cavern, where just about everyone who is anyone on the Liverpool scene has played at some time or another. On our first visit there George became very interested in the Frauleins, and learned to speak their language in a fantastically quick time. I think by the way Paul's eyes kept flashing, he too liked the German girls, but me, I had different ideas. My girl was at home in Liverpool. I'd met her one day, and we'd suddenly fallen in love. A little while later we were married. I love her. As I'm away such a lot, she lives with Aunt Mimi. I'd like to tell you more about her, but I've this old-fashioned idea that marriage is a private thing too precious to be publicly discussed. So forgive me and understand.

Just because I am married doesn't mean that the other three are about to pop the question. In fact any of you who are wondering about this can relax. So far there is no great opposition to you, and I'll let you know if I hear any news on the contrary.

As I was saying, we appeared at the Star Club three times. The secind time, another group was on the same bill, and we were all very taken with the style of their drummer. He had a special feel for his rhythm, and was the greatest drummer we'd ever seen perform.

We didn't get to talk to him during that show, and it wasn't until a few months after, back in Liverpool, that we actually met him. After our first visit to Hamburg we came home without Stuart Sutcliffe, because he had decided to stay in Germany permanently. It was a sad blow to us when we heard of his sudden death.

When we were in Germany we thought up the title Beatles, but the Germans couldn't pronounce it, so they called they called us Beat Boys, and it wasn't until we tied up with Ringo that we officially joined the ranks of the creepy crawlies.

Right now I'm going to crawl into bed. It's been a long hard day, full of throbbing drums, and shrill guitars, and strained vocal cords, and screaming girls, and as usual I've loved every minute of it.

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