John Lennon was the chippy, clever, quick-witted Beatle, a snarl of contradictions: both vicious brute and snivelling baby. He was hardly halfway through his natural life when it was extinguished.
More than any other artist, he has come to be regarded as the symbol and the conscience of his age. But who, or what, was the real John Lennon – and when did the ‘real’ John Lennon die?
Was his happy-go-lucky boyhood demeanour extinguished by the death of his mother?
Having fashioned himself as a leather-clad rocker, what made him relinquish that edition of himself so readily, allowing the gritty band he had founded to be restyled as a mop-shaking cop-out? And why did he allow himself to be subsumed by a bubblegum popstar?
At the height of the Beatles’ fame, John jacked it in and reinvented himself as a musical activist and peacenik. But his philanthropy was perhaps no more than a cynical smokescreen for how little he really cared for mankind – imagining no possessions while owning cattle herds, fur-coat fridges and multi-million-dollar homes.