John and Yoko once invited members of a Beatles fan club over for a chat.
John and Yoko once invited members of a Beatles fan club over for a chat.

Newly Released John Lennon Interviews Explore Many Topics

Lennon on Lennon: Conversations with John Lennon
Edited by Jeff Burger
Chicago Review Press
, 480 pp., $28.99

Sure, there have been plenty of compendiums of Beatles and Lennon interviews over the years. But this meaty effort is packed with interviews that have either never been in actual print before (from radio and TV appearances) or have been recently discovered.

The latter includes a transcription of a lengthy conversation between acid guru Timothy Leary, his wife, Lennon and Yoko Ono, the only copy of which sat in an unmarked brown envelope for four decades. Famous Lennon appearances on TV’s Dick Cavett Show and with radio’s Howard Smith, and the Lennon/McCartney Tonight Show appearance announcing the formation of Apple, are also in here.

And there’s not nearly as much talk about music as you might think. Instead, Lennon pontificates on political, cultural, social, racial, religious, drug and immigration topics. And not always in queries from members of the actual media.

One tape transcription is from when an English college student sent a letter off in the dark to the Beatles Monthly magazine requesting an interview, and was shocked to get a letter back inviting him and his classmates over to Lennon and Yoko Ono’s house for a rap. The book is also peppered with snippets of other chats Lennon had on different topics.

Though leaning mostly to post-Beatles times, the interviews span a Beatles press conference in 1966 to Lennon’s last-ever interview, with Dave Sholin, on the day he was assassinated. There’s also one from 1969 that he and Ono gave to a flock of bemused reporters while hiding their faces completely under bags.

While clearly geared toward the Beatles/Lennon superfan, especially his ’70s life and whims, it is a worthy addition to your already groaning Beatles bookshelves.

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