Tag Archives: John Lennon

May 9 Music et al

May 9 Music et al

Steve Katz

May 9 Music et al

May 9, 1945: Steve Katz of Blues Project and Blood Sweat and Tears, born. (see SK for much more.)

May 9 Music et al

Alan Freed

May 9 Music et al

May 9, 1958: a Suffolk County, NY grand jury indicted Alan Freed on charges of inciting the unlawful destruction of property during a riot touched off at a performance of his rock ‘n’ roll show the previous Saturday night. [Newspapers dot com article] (see May 16)

May 9 Music et al

Billy Vaughn

May 9 – 15, 1960: Billy Vaughn and His Orchestra’s album Theme from a Summer Place was Billboard’s #1 album.


May 9 Music et al

Louis Armstrong

May 9 – 15, 1964, ending The Beatles’ streak of three number-one hits in a row over 14 consecutive weeks, “Hello Dolly” by Louis Armstrong  #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It became the most successful single of Armstrong’s career, followed by a gold-selling album of the same name.

At 62 years old, the song also made Armstrong the oldest artist ever to reach #1 on the Hot 100 since its introduction in 1958. [NPR audio story]


May 9 Music et al

Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions

May 9, 1969: John Lennon and Yoko Ono released Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions, the second of their three experimental albums of avant-garde music on Zapple, a sub label of Apple. It was a successor to 1968’s Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins, and was followed by the Wedding Album. LIfe With the Lions peaked in the US at number 174. The album, whose title is a play on words of the BBC Radio show Life with The Lyons, was recorded at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in London and live at Cambridge University, in November 1968 and March 1969.

William Rhulmann wrote in his All Music review, “If, as they suggested, their lives were their art, then this is, too. Maybe.” 

Edmund O. Ward wrote in Rolling Stone magazine that the album was “utter bullshit” and “in poor taste” (see May 24 – June 27)

I dare you!


May 9 Music et al
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John Yoko Two Virgins

John Yoko Two Virgins

Released November 11, 1968

John Yoko Two Virgins

Two Virgins

Whenever musicians release a record album, whatever the format, it is the album’s content that critics use to determine their review. Vinyl record collectors bemoan the passing of the Vinyl Age both because they feel the sound quality digital formats fall below that of vinyl and album art needs more than the 5″ x 5″ that a CD allows or no album art at all when streaming.

John Yoko Two Virgins

Not the Beatles

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Two Virgins album  was the exception. Most fans found the recording unlistenable, but had even more to say about the cover art: a black and white photo of John and Yoko standing casually naked against a plain white background.

John Yoko Two Virgins

John and Yoko had recorded the album on May 19, 1968 at Kenwood, Lennon’s former home in Weybridge. It featured the following tracks: Two Virgins No. 1; Together; Two Virgins (numbers 2-6); Two Virgins; Hushabye Hushabye; Two Virgins (numbers 7-10).

John Yoko Two Virgins

Album cover controversy

Capitol Records refused to release it not because of the avant garde sound, but the company feared negative reaction to the cover.

Tetragrammaton released Two Virgins in a brown paper sleeve on November 11, 1968.  The sleeve had a small opening through which Lennon and Ono’s faces peeked.

Quantities of the album were seized in several US jurisdictions, including 30,000 copies in New Jersey. Nonetheless, it managed to reach number 124 on the US charts.

John Yoko Two Virgins

Lennon’s views

Lennon described the picture of Ono and him as “two slightly overweight ex-junkies.” He spoke of the album’s recording in Jann S Wenner’s Rolling Stone magazine 1970 interview, Lennon Remembers:

When we got back from India, we were talking to each other on the phone. I called her [Ono] over, it was the middle of the night and Cyn  [Cynthia Lennon} was away, and I thought, ‘Well, now’s the time if I’m going to get to know her any more.’ She came to the house and I didn’t know what to do; so we went upstairs to my studio and I played her all the tapes that I’d made, all this far-out stuff, some comedy stuff, and some electronic music. There were very few people I could play those tapes to. She was suitably impressed, and then she said, ‘Well, let’s make one ourselves,’ so we made Two Virgins. It was midnight when we finished, and then we made love at dawn. It was very beautiful.

They took the self-portrait later in the year at Ringo Starr’s basement apartment in London, where Lennon and Ono were temporarily living. In the notes that came with the Anthology collection, Lennon said:

We were both a bit embarrassed when we peeled off for the picture, so I took it myself with a delayed-action shutter. The picture was to prove that we are not a couple of demented freaks, that we are not deformed in any way and that our minds are healthy. If we can make society accept these kind of things without offence, without sniggering, then we shall be achieving our purpose.

What we did purposely is not have a pretty photograph; not have it lighted so as we looked sexy or good. There were a couple of other takes from that session where we looked rather nice, hid the little bits that aren’t that beautiful; we looked good. We used the straightest, most unflattering picture just to show that we were human.

John Yoko Two Virgins

Yoko vs Beatle fans

It is a shibboleth among many Beatle fans to excoriate Yoko Ono as the cause of the Beatles demise. In my view, John was a powder keg looking for a liaght. Yoko was that spark.

If it wasn’t Yoko, it would have been someone else. Yoko brought forth even more artistic freedom than Bob Dylan had three years earlier.

Here is side one of Two Virgins. I suppose many of you are familiar with the first minute because that’s all you could get through the first (and last) time you listened.

It certainly is a long way from “Love Me Do” to “Two Virgins.” Those of us who stuck it out for at least the first side may have kept waiting for the song to start. Compared to side 1, the white album’s “Number 9” seems pop.

And perhaps that’s what it’s all about. Stretch the boundaries of familiarity so that what is unapproachable today becomes familiar tomorrow…or next year.

John Yoko Two Virgins
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Cynthia Powell Lennon

Cynthia Powell Lennon

Julian Lennon, “Beautiful”

Cynthia Powell

Cynthia Powell was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, on September 10, 1939. She met John Lennon in 1957 while both were students at the Liverpool College of Art. She was engaged. He had a girlfriend. She broke off the former and he the latter.

Much later she said, ““If I’d known as a teenager what falling for John Lennon would lead to I would have turned ’round right then and walked away.”

We never know what one meeting can do, though.

Cynthia Powell Lennon

John and Cythia marry

John and Cynthia married on August 23, 1962 shortly after she discovered her pregnancy. John insisted they marry.

Brian Epstein was the best man. George Harrison and Paul McCartney also attended, but John’s aunt Mimi, who disapproved of the marriage, did not. Powell’s half brother Tony and his wife were there.

Epstein paid for the reception afterwards at Reece’s restaurant in Clayton Square.

That night, the Beatles played at the Riverpark Ballroom in Chester, a situation that increasingly repeated itself as their popularity grew and their touring expanded.

Epstein allowed John and Cynthia to live at his flat without rent. They remained there until Julian Lennon was born on April 8, 1963 after which they  moved in with John’s disapproving aunt Mimi in Liverpool.

Cynthia Powell Lennon

Married life on the road, before

To say “they” lived there is an exaggeration, since John was in London most of the time with the band.

To add to the marriage’s difficulties, Brian Epstein, urged the Lennons to keep their marriage secret. The image Epstein wanted (as much as those many teenage girl Beatle-maniacs) was of four eligible bachelors, not three + one married with a child.

As with any relationship that has a mother primarily raising the young child because the father is away and when home usually coming home from a long night out, challenges occurred.

In a 1985 Fresh Air interview Cynthia said of John: “He used to sleep an awful lot. And he would wake up when we were ready to go to bed, if you know what I mean. With a small child, you have to be up early in the morning, and then you’re pretty exhausted at night, whereas John’s hours changed. You know, he’d be up at night and in bed during the day. So the whole fabric of our life changed because of the work that he was doing, and because of the pressures from outside.

About the Beatles rapid and phenomenal success she said, “So all of a sudden, you find yourself with a chauffeur and a housekeeper and a cook and an interior designer and all the things in life that you’ve never experienced before and you weren’t brought up to, I was left to cope with and handle, which was hard work. It was a full-time job, actually.

Cynthia Powell Lennon

Married life on the rocks

John met Yoko Ono in 1966. The artistic attraction turned into an emotional and physical one that Cynthia discovered in 1968 when she found them together after returning from a Greek holiday Lennon had encouraged her to take.

At first, Lennon sued for divorce accusing Cynthia of adultery. She counter-sued on August 22, 1968 and on November 8, 1968, was granted a divorce.

She stated, “I had to survive this for Julian. I couldn’t afford to crumble: I had to be strong, do what was best for him. I could fight the divorce, but that would get horribly messy and in the circumstances as clean a break as possible seemed best.”

Survive she did. Cynthia Lennon married three more times after the 1968 split, most last being widowed to Noel Charles who died in 2013.

When asked what led to the famed split, Cynthia said, “I think we both changed. It was natural that we both change. But I did not want to go down the road John was going … I had nothing to escape. I wasn’t looking for anything else. I wasn’t searching in my mind for new experiences on a mental state.”

Cynthia Powell Lennon

In Loving Memory

Cynthia Powell Lennon died at her home in Spain on April 1, 2015. She was 75. After her death, son Julian posted the following touching video:

Cynthia Powell Lennon, Cynthia Powell Lennon, Cynthia Powell Lennon, 

You gave your life for me
You gave your life for love
The feeling still remains
Though you’re on a different plane
Your world is full of angels
You’ve become one
With God above you’re free
You were so Beautiful
You are so Beautiful
The love you left behind will carry on
You gave your heart and soul to everyoneYou never lived a lie
You showed me how to cry The life that you embraced

Always let you down
But you’re the only one that stood your ground
No matter what they sayYou were so Beautiful
You are so Beautiful
The love you left behind will carry on
You gave your heart and soul to everyoneYou were so Beautiful
You are so Beautiful
The love you left behind will carry on
You gave your heart and soul to everyone
You were so Beautiful
You are so Beautiful
The love you left behind will carry on
You gave your heart and soul to everyoneYou gave your life for love
I know you’re safe above

Cynthia Powell Lennon
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