Today (October 9th) marks what would have been John Lennon's 73rd birthday. By nightfall tonight, hundreds of fans will have made the pilgrimage to Central Park's Strawberry Fields in New York City for a day of remembrance, sing-alongs, and celebrations dedicated to the memory of Lennon. Strawberry Fields, a triangular patch of land dedicated to Lennon by the city of New York and named after the Beatles' 1967 hit, sits directly across the street from the Dakota, Lennon's Manhattan apartment building, where he was gunned down on December 8th, 1980 at the age 40. Today is also Lennon and Yoko Ono's son Sean Lennon's 38th birthday.
Fans were shocked earlier this week when Lennon's star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame was defaced by vandals. Volunteer fan crews have been working overtime to get the star ready for today's celebrations. The star, which is adjacent to the Beatle's record label headquarters in Los Angeles, is the primary spot for fans to gather both on Lennon's birthday and the day of his death.
Last month we reported that Lennon's only full-rehearsed concert from 1972 is getting a drastic overhaul. Producer Jack Douglas, best known for his work with Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, and Lennon's final 1980 songs on Double Fantasy and Milk And Honey, revealed to us in an exclusive interview that plans are in the early stages to restore the show for an upcoming release. On August 30th, 1972, Lennon and Yoko Ono were backed by Elephants Memory for two full concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden. The performances, known as the One To One concerts, included an afternoon matinee and an evening performance, benefited the Willowbrook House, with the proceeds from the shows going to help establish new accommodations for the mentally handicapped inhabitants of the former Willowbrook institution in Long Island, New York.
Douglas, who was behind the boards for the 2010 Double Fantasy Stripped Down collection, says that unlike the 1986 LP and VHS versions of the '72 show -- called, Live In New York City -- he plans to include material from both the afternoon and evening charity concerts. No release date has been set.
JOHN LENNON FAST FACTS
Lennon's full birth name was John Winston Lennon. In April 1969, he legally changed his middle name to "Ono."
Although Lennon is often said to be an only child, he in fact has five half-siblings. Julia and Jacqui Dykins are on his mother Julia's side, as well as another sister, Victoria, who was adopted at birth.
In the mid '70s, Lennon's father Freddie fathered two sons, named David and Robin Lennon.
Lennon's mother Julia taught John his first song on the guitar, Fats Domino's "Ain't That A Shame."
Lennon and Paul McCartney made a handshake deal in late 1957, agreeing that all compositions written by either one of them -- solo or in collaboration with each other -- would be credited to "Lennon-McCartney."
The Beatles performed Lennon's first original composition, titled "Hello Little Girl," at their unsuccessful Decca Records audition on January 1st, 1962.
After the Beatles' breakup, both Lennon and McCartney gave separate interviews detailing who wrote what within the duo's partnership. They two agreed on everything except two songs -- Lennon claimed that he wrote the majority of the lyrics to McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby" and McCartney claimed that he wrote the melody to Lennon's "In My Life."
Although uncredited, Lennon helped write the lyrics to George Harrison's song "Taxman" from the Beatles' Revolver album and "Piggies" from "The White Album."
Lennon's lucky number was nine. The number popped up in several of his songs, including "One After 909," "Revolution #9," and "#9 Dream."
Although primarily a rhythm guitarist, Lennon played bass on several McCartney-written Beatles classics, including "Back In The U.S.S.R.," "Helter Skelter," "Let It Be," and "The Long And Winding Road."
Lennon played keyboards on "I'm Down," "Tell Me What You See," "The Night Before," "We Can Work It Out," "Penny Lane," "The Being For the Benefit Of Mr. Kite," "All You Need Is Love," "Hello Goodbye," "I Am The Walrus," "Hey Bulldog," "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Because," and others.
Lennon also played lead guitar on a number of Beatles tracks too, including "Get Back," "You Can't Do That," "Honey Pie," "Yer Blues," "For You Blue," "The Ballad Of John And Yoko," and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)."
Lennon published two books of short stories and prose during the height of Beatlemania -- 1964's In His Own Write and 1965's A Spaniard In The Works. In 1986 a novel written in the late-'70s, titled Skywriting By Word Of Mouth, was published posthumously.
Prior to returning to Yoko after their infamous 14-month separation in the early 1970s, Lennon was planning to travel to New Orleans to record with McCartney, who was then working on Wings' Venus And Mars album.
Lennon and McCartney last saw each other on April 24th, 1976, when they watched Saturday Night Live as producer Lorne Michaels offered the Beatles a whopping $3,000 to reunite on the show. They briefly considered heading to Rockefeller Center where the show was being performed, as a gag. The two last spoke on the phone in early 1980.
Before deciding to take a five-year sabbatical from recording, Lennon was composing material for a 1976 album, tentatively titled Between The Lines.
In the years prior to his death in New York, Lennon usually woke up around dawn each day, and by mid-morning would walk over to the since-closed upscale neighborhood coffee house Cafe LaFortuna and read The New York Times, The London Times, and several other international newspapers to get a global view of daily current events.
Lennon was also known to occasionally go out for drinks at his local watering hole, Malachy's Donegal Inn, only a block away from the Dakota.
At the time of his death, John and Yoko were rumored to be planning a world tour, to tentatively start in the spring of 1981 with a free show in New York's Central Park, and eventually culminating with a concert in the Beatles' hometown of Liverpool.
In the weeks prior to his death, Lennon was working on two new songs, called "You Saved My Soul (With Your True Love)" and "Dear John." An edited version of "Dear John" appears on the 1998 John Lennon Anthology.