John Lennon is born

John Winston Lennon was born in wartime England on October 9th 1940, at Liverpool Maternity Hospital. His parents, Julia and Alfred Lennon named him after his grandfather John Jack Lennon and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

John Lennon circa 1943. 

John Lennon circa 1943. 

The many faces of John Lennon.

The many faces of John Lennon.

John's father Alfred was a merchant seaman who was absent for most of John's life; in fact he wasn't there when John was born. While away at sea he sent Julia cheques in the mail to look after John. When Alfred went absent without leave in February of 1944, the cheques stopped coming. Alfred showed up six months later and offered to take care of the family, but Julia refused his help. 

At this time Julia was pregnant with another man's child and couldn't bare the financial burden of raising both children, so she handed over care of John to her sister Mimi Smith.

When John was six years old his father took him to Blackpool for a visit, with the intention of taking John to New Zealand with him.

When Julia got word of his plans she tracked Alfred down and a massive argument insued. Alfred forced John to choose between him or Julia. John chose his father, but as his mother walked away six year old John began to cry and ran after Julia. John wouldn't see his father for another 20 years.

Lennon spent most of his childhood years at his Aunt Mimi's house on Menlove Avenue. Julia visited John often and when he was old enough he would visit her. Julia was very fond of music and quite musical herself; she taught John how to play banjo and would play Elvis Presley records when he visited. Presley would have a massive influence on John's musical development as a teenager.

Left: John Lennon with mother Julia. Right: A young John Lennon. 

Left: John Lennon with mother Julia. Right: A young John Lennon. 

John Lennon's aunt Mimi Smith. 

John Lennon's aunt Mimi Smith. 

From 1952 to 1957 John attended Quarrybank Highschool in Liverpool and by all accounts was described as a happy-go-lucky, lively and good humoured boy, who enjoyed drawing cartoons and expressed an interest in art. His grades however were not good and John was the prototypical class clown. 

In 1956 when John was 16 years old, he formed a skiffle group he called The Quarrymen, after the name of the high school he attended. Rock and roll it seemed, was the one thing John gravitated to and the perfect outlet for his bursting energy and the emotional turmoil of his upbringing.

Julia bought John his first guitar in 1956; a Gallotone Champion acoustic guitar. She tried to nurture John's interest in music, much to the dismay of her sister Mimi who was very sceptical of young John's musical aspirations:

"The guitar's all very well, John, but you'll never make a living out of it" - Mimi Smith
George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney circa 1958.

George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney circa 1958.

John Lennon met Paul McCartney on July 6th 1957 and asked him to join his band. Paul was friends with George Harrison and later introduced George to John, who was so impressed with George's guitar playing he asked him to join too.

 "We were four guys, that, eh... I met Paul, said, d'y' wanna join me band, you know and then George joined and then Ringo joined. We were just a band who made it very, very big. That's all." - John Lennon
Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison, circa 1958. 

Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison, circa 1958.