Synopses & Reviews
For more than a quarter century, Philip Norman's internationally bestselling Shout has been unchallenged as the definitive biography of the Beatles. Now, at last, Norman turns his formidable talent to the Beatle for whom belonging to the world's most beloved pop group was never enough. Drawing on previously untapped sources, and with unprecedented access to all the major characters, here is the comprehensive and most revealing portrait of John Lennon that is ever likely to be published.
This masterly biography takes a fresh and penetrating look at every aspect of Lennon's much-chronicled life, including the songs that have turned him, posthumously, into a near-secular saint. In three years of research, Norman has turned up an extraordinary amount of new information about even the best-known episodes of Lennon folklore his upbringing by his strict Aunt Mimi; his allegedly wasted school and student days; the evolution of his peerless creative partnership with Paul McCartney; his Beatle-busting love affair with a Japanese performance artist; his forays into painting and literature; his experiments with Transcendental Meditation, primal scream therapy, and drugs. The book's numerous key informants and interviewees include Sir Paul McCartney, Sir George Martin, Sean Lennon whose moving reminiscence reveals his father as never before and Yoko Ono, who speaks with sometimes shocking candor about the inner workings of her marriage to John.
Honest and unflinching, as John himself would wish, Norman gives us the whole man in all his endless contradictions tough and cynical, hilariously funny but also naive, vulnerable and insecure and reveals how the mother who gave him away as a toddler haunted his mind and his music for the rest of his days.
Norman (Shout!: The Beatles in Their Generation) offers a grand, comprehensive, yet sprightly biography of the late Beatle. His sympathetic but sharp treatment captures Lennon's charm and charisma, but also his cruelty to loved ones, his rebel posturings, his resentment of Paul McCartney's matchless songwriting powers and growing dominance of the band, his debaucheries, his drunk and disorderlies, his shoplifting and his Oedipal yearnings. Norman is a smart analyst of pop music and its cultural setting and a scintillating miniaturist of Beatlemania. (He likens the band's trademark shriek-inducing hair-shakings to 'manic feather-dusters.') He manages the difficult trick of loving Lennon's music without swooning over it, pronouncing 'Strawberry Fields' both a great song and 'crafted druggy gibberish.' Lennon emerges as a bright, troubled, insecure man who grasped at profundity and occasionally touched it; from Norman's portrait, we see why so many consider him a soul mate. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"It sharpens what we know about Lennon at just about every turn...[Norman] pushes beyond the cliches in exploring how the books and poems Lennon loved as a child re-emerged in both his songs and his prose. And he cracks the mystery of the affair Lennon admitted writing about in 'Norwegian Wood'... devotees will relish the new information, while casual readers will find a familiar story told more truly than ever before." Rolling Stone
"More moving and less plausible than most fiction, Lennon's life is one of the great 20th century fables, and it's told here definitively by a major Beatles scholar. Even as Lennon went from young tough to global pop star to hippie prophet, he never ceased to be a shattered, motherless little boy. When have so many ever followed anyone so lost? A." Time
"[Norman's] definitive biography draws impressively on exclusive and extensive interviews with Yoko Ono and for the first time on the record, their son Sean." USA Today
"[I]n the end, neither Ms. Ono nor Mr. McCartney seemed pleased with Mr. Norman's book. The reader should have no such problems." Dallas Morning News
"Exclusive new commentary from Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney, and sundry confidants and family members provides fresh insight to this accessible albeit lengthy work of popular biography....[H]ighly recommended." Library Journal
Phillip Norman, whose 1981 classic Shout! is considered the definitive biography of The Beatles, returns with John Lennon: The Life. This New York Times bestseller is an intimate look at the troubled genius who—along with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr—changed the shape and sound of popular music forever. From his early Liverpool days and heartbreaking childhood tragedies through the heady roller-coaster ride that was The Beatles and far beyond—his prolific post-“Fab Four” career, his turbulent marriage to Yoko Ono, his peace crusade, and his shocking death on the New York City streets—John Lennon: The Life is a remarkably fair and honest, utterly enthralling study of an achingly human rock legend.
About the Author
Philip Norman is the author of Shout! The Beatles in Their Generation, and biographies of the Rolling Stones, Elton John, and Buddy Holly. He has also published four novels, two collections of short stories, and a memoir of his seaside childhood, Babycham Night.