Articles

Was John Lennon a military wannabe?

Thirty-five years ago today John Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman -- an avid Beatles fan -- in the entryway of the Dakota apartments located in New York City's Upper Westside.  In tribute social media is lighting up with interpretations of Lennon's message of peace that came in various forms during his artistic career, most famously in his songs "Imagine" and "War is Over (if You Want It)."


But John Lennon was born in England in 1940, the early part of World War II.  His father was a merchant seaman, always gone on convoy runs, and -- like the rest of his fellow countrymen, Lennon learned to hate the Luffewaffe and love the RAF as he watched airplanes fly overhead and heeded the wail of air raid sirens. He may have preached peace, but there's no denying he understood the value of a strong national defense. His success was a product of it. Ironically enough, The Beatles honed their musical presentation -- the one they would use to wow America on the Ed Sullivan Show a few years later -- in the clubs of Hamburg, Germany, which had been a major industrial hub of the Third Reich a mere 17 years or so earlier.

There are several pieces of evidence of Lennon's military inclinations.  When we was a teenager he was a member of the Air Training Corps (sort of a British version of the Civil Air Patrol) according to a report by NME.

In 1966 Lennon played the role of Private Gripweed in "How I Won the War," directed by Lennon's good friend Richard Lester:

The Beatles movie "Help" (also directed by Richard Lester) had a few references to warfare including an all out war scene in an open field involving British infantry and armored units.

(GIF: Battle scene from the movie 'Help!')

And don't forget the Lennon-penned Beatles' song "Revolution," that included the lyrics "when you talk about destruction, don't you know that you can count me out . . . in."

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