Paul's been passionate about rock music since the age of 13 and played guitar in a band for many years.UK born, he now lives in Florida.
There can be no doubt that John Lennon was a very complex man.
As musician, singer, and songwriter, he is deservedly seen as one of the greatest creative figures of the 20th century. His work with the legendary band the Beatles, his solo career, and his promotion of peace through creative media events, all combined to make him an historical icon.
Over the years, though, Lennon's life has been romanticized to such an extent that it can be difficult to know the man from the myth. What is undoubtedly true is that he was certainly no saint.
As a human being, Lennon was, at best, damaged and flawed. At worst, he could be cold-hearted, cruel, and even monstrous.
While Lennon's reputation as a creative artist and cultural giant is justifiably huge, this article examines five reasons why John Lennon was not a good person.
5 Reasons Why John Lennon Was an Awful Human Being
Here are five things that made the Beatles band member and peace activist a bad person:
- He was violent towards women
- Lennon was a serial philanderer
- He was a neglectful and abusive father
- Lennon viciously attacked a friend for joking about him being gay
- He was a hypocrite
I will examine each of these five negatives in more detail below.
1. He Was Violent Towards Women
John Lennon's early behavior towards the ladies in his life was brutal and savage. His first wife Cynthia perhaps got the worst of his uncontrolled temper, but there were other cases, too.
While it's understandable that Lennon might have some buried resentments resulting from his terrible and tragic childhood, it certainly doesn't excuse the domestic abuse.
As the myth of John Lennon has expanded, his nastiness has been glossed over, but it was real enough and he acknowledged it himself towards the end of his life.
In an interview with Playboy, published just a couple of days before he died, Lennon confessed, "I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically... any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself, and I hit."
2. Lennon Was a Serial Philanderer, Jealous and Possessive
Lennon was cruel towards women in other ways, too. He cheated on his first wife Cynthia scores of times and would continue cheating throughout his life.
His most famous affair was with Yoko Ono, which began when he was still married to Cynthia. While the relationship was presented to the public as deeply loving, the reality was dysfunctional.
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Lennon was so obsessive and insecure that he wouldn't allow Ono out of his sight, even making her accompany him to band practices and the bathroom.
Unfortunately for Ono, the public blamed her for distracting Lennon's attention from the Beatles and ultimately the band's breakup, so she was the one who took the blame for being controlling and overbearing.
3. He Was a Neglectful and Abusive Father
It wasn't just his first wife Cynthia that Lennon was cruel with. Their son together was called Julian and Lennon behaved abysmally towards the child.
Dorothy Jarlett, Lennon's housekeeper during his first marriage, described Lennon's behavior towards Julian as aggressive and violent. Lennon appeared to resent his son and would often berate him. One time, he even allegedly snapped at the boy for giggling: “I hate the way you fucking laugh.”
Paul McCartney, who felt great empathy for Julian, wrote the song "Hey Jude" for him, the original title being "Hey Jules." Years later, Julian said that McCartney had been more of a father to him than his real dad.
4. Lennon Viciously Attacked a Friend For Joking About Him Being Gay
Lennon had a particularly close relationship with the Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Epstein was homosexual and rumors spread about the nature of the two's friendship when they took a trip to Spain together.
"Well, it was almost a love affair, but not quite," Lennon would later say about his time with Epstein. "It was never consummated. But it was a pretty intense relationship."
Soon after their return from Spain, at Paul McCartney's twenty-first birthday party, Lennon's heavy drinking and explosive temper led him to attack a friend of the band called Bob Wooler.
Wooler had made a joke about Lennon's vacation with Epstein, implying a possible sexual relationship by quipping: "How was your honeymoon, John?"
Lennon would later explain: "He called me a queer so I battered his bloody ribs in."
5. He Was a Hypocrite
There are multiple inconsistencies between Lennon the myth and Lennon the man. As an artist and political activist, he could often come across as an idealist, but as a person, he typically fell way short of perfection.
Here are some examples:
- Lennon was a violent man who preached peace.
- Although he was a philanderer himself, he was obsessively jealous and possessive towards the women he became involved with.
- Lennon was an extremely wealthy man who lived a rich lifestyle, but said that we should "imagine" a world with no possessions or greed.
- He was an often callous and cruel person who told us that all you need is love.
In Defense of John Lennon
Those who are sympathetic to John Lennon point out two things in mitigation for his bad behavior:
Lennon had a terrible and traumatic childhood
His father was never around and his mother was an unreliable parent. He ended up being raised by his Aunt Mimi, who was stable but very strict.
Lennon's father, mother and uncle would all go on to die while Lennon was still relatively young. Paul McCartney described Lennon's entire life as "a cry for help."
Lennon did express regret for his abusive behavior later in life
He made amends with his son Julian over the previous cruelty that he had shown towards his son. Lennon also owned up to his terrible treatment of women in the past.
© 2021 Paul Goodman