I remember sitting at me Nan’s house in the late 1970s watching telly. She made me a cuppa and handed me a copy of the Daily Mail, pointing at the picture of a tramp-like figure, seemingly staggering down a city street somewhere.
I read the caption, it went something like: “Lost Lennon, a has-been in New York.” He was wearing a floppy hat, a long ragged trench coat, baggy trousers and a long, ‘Dr Who’ scarf.
At the time, my only images of the Beatles had been gathered from the front cover of ‘Please, Please, Me’: four young men gazing from an office-block staircase and ‘Help’ with four men dressed in blue skiing outfits making funny shapes to camera.
I’d also seen ‘Hard Days Night’, a black and white flick based on a train and hanging around a posh hotel room.
So the tramp picture didn’t really link up in my mind with The Beatles. It was just the picture of an old geezer (to a 10 year old boy) in a newspaper.
Then one day, a couple of years later, a kid from school that I didn’t know too well cycled past me while I was waiting for the bus home.
“Oi, mate. John Lennon’s been shot!” he said.
I don’t remember responding to him. He was a bit of a dick. But that photo from the paper came back to me and for some reason the fact that he was from The Beatles. It all seemed to tie up together in my mind. From that moment on I was a Beatles fanatic. It made sense.
Thinking back, it’s like John was always alive when I discovered how great The Beatles were. That they weren’t just some old group that me mum put on the record player while she was hovering on a Saturday. But he was dead and it was a long time ago. Doesn’t seem like it, but it was.
Then every morning, our local radio station would play 'Borrowed Time' from the posthumously cobbled together 'Milk and Honey' album. And so, in 1984, Lennon was kind of alive again...in a kind of sub-standard way.
At least we still had The Beatles.
Favourite Beatles song: (changes lots, but at the moment it’s a tie between ‘Flying’ from ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, ‘Good Morning’ from ‘Sgt Peppers’ and ‘Strawberry fields Forever’.
Favourite Lennon song: ‘Mind Games’ (this also regularly changes)