Daytrippin' Beatles Magazine

The Latest Beatles News, Travel, Biography and Discography


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Review: The John Lennon Letters is a collector’s and historian’s dream book

The John Lennon Letters is a fascinating document to Beatles history. Not only does it provide entertainment for Beatles/Lennon fans, it also offers a rare insight into the mind of John Lennon unlike any biography has been able to offer. In addition, the book provides a historical account of actual letters in existence, which is valuable information for Beatles memorabilia collectors.

The John Lennon Letters, compiled and edited by Beatles biographer Hunter Davies, includes letters that Lennon wrote throughout his lifetime, spanning from his childhood years all the way up until the last years of his life. Some letters are surprising in their sentimentality like the 8-page love letter Lennon wrote to his then girlfriend, Cynthia Powell, while they were attending art school together. Not so surprising may be some sarcastic, biting letters like the typewritten letter to Todd Rundgren in 1974 or the “John rant” that was addressed to Paul and Linda McCartney in 1971.

All in all, the collection of almost 300 letters, notes and doodles compiled together in book form is a feat in itself. Davies, with permission from Yoko Ono, contacted all the people he knew of (friends of The Beatles and collectors) who had a letter from John Lennon in their possession. Each letter is reprinted in its physical form, with Lennon’s handwriting then reprinted in text format. Davies also offers historical context surrounding each of the letters in this almost 400-page volume.

While some may believe owning entertainment memorabilia is more for investment purposes, the importance of collecting and preserving personal items of famous musicians and actors adds a lot to learning the history of the performer. The downside is that these documents or artifacts are often kept hidden in private collections and are never seen by the general public. Surely many Beatles and Lennon biographers would have loved to have had access to all of these letters while they were writing their books.

In recent years, artifacts once owned by The Beatles have often been uncovered for the first time revealing new facts regarding Beatles history. That’s why The John Lennon Letters, and books like Ringo Starr’s 2004 book, Postcards from the Boys, are such a gift to Beatles historians and collectors. Davies said in a recent interview that his next book will be a compilation of original handwritten Beatles lyrics. No doubt that forthcoming book will also add to the scholarship of the Beatles legacy just like The John Lennon Letters does.

–Trina Yannicos

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Book Review: The Beatles in Comic Strips

Just when you thought nearly every aspect of The Beatles’ career has been covered in a book, a new book called The Beatles in Comic Strips is released. The authors, Enzo Gentile and Fabio Schiavo, are both journalists from Italy and the book was originally published by Skira, an Italian publisher. The US and Canadian editions are distributed by Rizzoli Publications.

The concept of compiling a vast array of comic strips from the last 50 years that depict The Beatles seems like a great idea for a book. Unfortunately, this 240-page book with color reproductions of comic book covers and comic strips leaves a lot to be desired.

For starters, half of the comic strips are in foreign languages, which makes about half the book inaccessible for English readers. Also about half of the comics include only a small mention of The Beatles leaving them unmemorable in this reviewer’s opinion.

As a result, only about 25% of the comics included have substantial Beatles content in English, and in many cases, the entire comic strip is not visible. This is due to the fact that a small graphic of the cover of each comic book is placed right on top of the actual comic strip. Many times, as you’re reading the comic strip, the full story of the strip is unreadable since one of the captions is covered by a picture of the cover.

Editorially, a decision was made to split the book into sections according to decade. The way the authors mark a new section in the book is to include a photograph which goes along with each decade. However, these photographs are usually not of The Beatles, and don’t really make sense to be included in the book. For example, in the 1960s section, a picture of Jane Fonda as Barbarella from 1967 is inserted. A picture of The Beatles from 1967 would make more sense to insert at this location.

Also, it took a while to figure out that the authors are only showing one sample page from each comic book. That means even if the comic strip story went on for multiple pages, you only get to read one page. As a result, the reader is left feeling incomplete by not being able to finish reading the entire comic story.

While it would be a great contribution to the Beatles publishing archive to have a compilation of Beatles comic strips, this book just doesn’t do the trick.

–Trina Yannicos

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Yoko Ono’s An Invisible Flower is first book offering from Sean Lennon’s Chimera Library

A new illustrated story by Yoko Ono called An Invisible Flower has been released. The story and drawings were created when Yoko was only 19 years old. By chance, son Sean Lennon discovered these drawings in his mother’s archives in her apartment. He explains in the introduction to the book that he thought this story would be “a good beginning for Chimera Library.”

Written in 1952, An Invisible Flower is a simple, yet powerful depiction of how imagination can save people during stressful times. Ono writes in the afterword that the story was inspired during her time as a child when she was evacuated to the Japanese countryside during World War II.

In the story, she is comforted by the fact that a flower that only she can see can also be seen by a mysterious friend named ‘Smelty John.’ Seems like this may have been a foreshadowing of Yoko meeting Sean’s Dad, John Lennon, 14 years later.

While the illustrations are quite childlike, the concept of imagination flows strongly through this piece, tying in with Yoko’s lifelong body of art which constantly asks people to “Imagine,” most famously inspiring John Lennon’s legendary song, now played every New Year’s Eve in Times Square before the ball drops.

Yoko Ono, now 79 years old, currently has an art exhibition, Yoko Ono: To The Light, on display in London at the Serpentine Gallery. She is encouraging everyone to contribute a picture of them smiling to her new project, #smilesfilm. You can upload your picture via Twitter or Instagram (http://www.smilesfilm.com).

Chimera is a record label and publishing company founded by Sean Lennon. For more information, visit http://chimeramusic.com/

–Trina Yannicos

You can enter to win a copy of An Invisible Flower in our Summer 2012 Beatles Giveaway through August 31.

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Review: New book, “Lennon’s Liverpool” by Bill Harry

Following the recent focus on John Lennon’s teenage years inspired by the film, Nowhere Boy, a new book on the specific Liverpool locations in Lennon’s life has just been published. ‘Lennon’s Liverpool‘ by Bill Harry is a comprehensive look at the places which hold a significant connection to John Lennon’s early/pre-Beatle years. And who better to tell this story than a friend and fellow student at the Liverpool College of Art which John attended.

Bill Harry was a writer attending the Liverpool College of Art in the late 1950s at the same time that John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe were students. Along with artist Rod Murray, the four classmates became friends and would hang out at a local pub called Ye Cracke. These four young men, influenced by Jack Kerouac and The Beat Generation in America, would sit around and talk about poetry and music. They vowed that they would put Liverpool on the map to show how the city could inspire creativity. Each man in their own way, left their mark on the world, especially John Lennon. Over 40 years later, a plaque was put on display at Ye Cracke remembering ‘The Dissenters’ — John Lennon’s ‘other band’ which never played a note.
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This is just one of the insider stories that Bill Harry shares in ‘Lennon’s Liverpool’ which is filled with full color photos of the famous schools and homes that played a role in John Lennon’s life. Beatle fans who have visited Liverpool most likely would not have been shown all of these locations on a typical two-hour guided tour. This book is a great resource for those who want the full Lennon experience in Liverpool.
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There are a few factual mistakes which have been noted by a reviewer on Amazon.com citing that the years were incorrectly listed for the date of John and Cynthia’s marriage (should have said ‘1962’ not ‘1963’ on page 84), and the date for an award presented to The Beatles for ‘No 1 Group On Mersyside’ (should say ‘1962’, not ‘1961’ on page 107). These seem to be typos and, knowing Bill Harry’s history with The Beatles as publisher of Mersey Beat newspaper, would not reflect a lack of knowledge, but rather an unfortunate error.
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While the book is not intended as a travel guide, it contains addresses of many of the locations. Along with many rare photos, you’ll discover locations not as well known like 93 Garmoyle Road where John’s future wife, Cynthia Powell, and Paul’s girlfriend at the time, Dot Rhone, shared a house or 3 Gambier Terrace where John Lennon and his roommates shared a flat.
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This 8.25-inch square paperback at just over 100 pages would be something to take with you on your next trip to Liverpool, but you’ll still need a map to guide you around the city. ‘Lennon’s Liverpool’ gives you a lot more in-depth history and details than a travel guidebook while still being portable enough to take on the road.
— Trina Yannicos
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‘Lennon’s Liverpool’ by Bill Harry is available through Amazon.com.
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Note: ‘Lennon’s Liverpool’ is published by Trinity Mirror Media, who have also published a similar book on Paul McCartney’s young life in Liverpool called ‘The McCartney’s: In the Town Where They Were Born.’
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Psychic claims John Lennon and George Harrison play music in the afterlife

When George Harrison passed away in 2001 from cancer, many Beatles fans fantasized that Harrison would join former bandmate John Lennon in the afterlife to play music again.
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According to psychic Sylvia Browne, that fantasy is not too far from reality – at least the spiritual reality that she describes in her new book, “Afterlives of the Rich and Famous.” The best-selling author whose books include “Life on the Other Side” and “Visits from the Afterlife” has now taken on the controversial subject of the afterlives of some of the most high-profile celebrities of our time.
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Browne explores the afterlives of over 40 celebrities including famous actors and musicians such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy Jr., Michael Jackson, Princess Diana, Heath Ledger and more. After presenting a brief biography of each celebrity’s life, she then channels their spirit to see how their experience was crossing over after death, as well as how and who they are spending their time with in eternity.
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Regarding ex-Beatles Harrison and Lennon, Browne says that although John and George do not play music together, they do spend a great amount of time together meditating and taking long walks with each other.
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While John still composes and performs music in the afterlife, he collaborates with another famous singer and friend, Harry Nilsson. George, on the other hand, plays music and writes songs, but not for the public. George only shares his music with other Hindus at the temple where he worships.
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Also, Lennon, remembered for his pursuit of peace, continues this in the afterlife with a lecture series and an “ongoing peace congress of former world leaders.”
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Other interesting tidbits in Browne’s book include Marilyn Monroe’s revelation that she did not commit suicide and Elvis Presley’s plan to be reincarnated as a singer in France.
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Even though Browne is a best-selling author of spiritual and psychic books, she also has a lot of critics. That said, whatever your beliefs, “Afterlives of the Rich and Famous” is an entertaining read and helps to provide some comfort to the millions of fans of those celebrities that are no longer with us.
–Trina Yannicos
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Related article:
by Shelley Germeaux


Book Review: John Lennon: In His Life, new photo-biography

John Lennon: In His Life from White Star Publishers is a new coffee-table style book featuring a pictorial look at John Lennon’s life. The biographical text is written by Beatles author, John Blaney, and there is a preface written by Yoko Ono Lennon.

The book starts off with a gorgeous array of photos from John Lennon’s childhood and teenage years. The large size of the book offers quality reproductions of Lennon’s birth certificate as well as color images of his boyhood writing and drawings from the “Daily Howl”. The quality and scale of the early photographs are reminiscent of the hardcover book from 1988 called Imagine: John Lennon, a companion to the John Lennon documentary of the same name.

The photos of The Beatles years in Hamburg are stunning and printed in high quality and a highlight of the book. The early years of Lennon’s career with The Beatles are given a thorough exploration in John Lennon: In His Life.
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However, as the years progress in Lennon’s life, the variety of pictures starts to decrease. The focus of the book is on Lennon’s Beatles years. Yoko doesn’t even enter the book’s timeline until page 182 out of 270 pages. That means the later years of Lennon’s life are not given the same amount of attention.
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The 1970s are only given 25 pages in the book, and shockingly, 1980 is represented with one page spread. With that last spread, the book ends abruptly with virtually no pictures of the last year of Lennon’s life.
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As a result, this book cannot be described as a complete look at John Lennon’s life. But if you are more interested in Lennon’s early years and his time with The Beatles, than you will enjoy this book.
–Trina Yannicos
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Beatles Hamburg photos featured in new book, ‘Astrid Kirchherr: A Retrospective’


The companion book to the photography exhibit “Astrid Kirchherr: A Retrospective” which is currently on display at the Victoria Gallery & Museum in Liverpool was officially released today. What a treat for those of us who can’t make it to Liverpool before the exhibit closes on January 29, 2011!

With or without the exhibit, “Astrid Kirchherr: A Retrospective” is an important historical document in Beatles history. Compared to her limited edition coffee table books from Genesis costing several hundred dollars, this is one of the few times Astrid Kirchherr has compiled a collection of her legendary photos of The Beatles in an affordable edition.

Not only was Astrid a photographer who took the first professional shots of The Beatles back in Hamburg in late 1960, but she also became their friend. Aside from her love affair with The Beatles’ former bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, Astrid formed the closest bond with George Harrison.
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In an interview with Astrid featured in the book, she says: “George was always my favorite, his kindness and wit. He was just a wonderful person and whenever I was in trouble, like with money and things, he was always looking after me and he invited me a couple of times to London and later on to Henley. I just miss him terribly because he was like a little guardian angel for me. I feel like I am in a way lost without him.”
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Astrid, her ex-boyfriend, Klaus Voormann, and friend Jurgen Vollmer had a huge impact on The Beatles during their time in Hamburg. The Beatles traded in their matching sports jackets for leather attire due to the fashion influence of their new Hamburg friends, and eventually combed their hair forward in the “moptop” style due to Astrid and Jurgen’s influence.
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The first black and white photos that Astrid took of The Beatles at the funfair at a munincipal park in Hamburg are regarded as some of the best photos of The Beatles ever taken. These photos as well as many never before seen photos are featured in the book including pictures of Astrid with Paul, George and Ringo on a holiday vacation in Tenerife in 1963.
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At 208 pages, “Astrid Kirchherr: A Retrospective” offers not only famous photos of The Beatles, but also uncropped and alternate shots. Featuring in-depth interviews with Astrid, Klaus Voormann, Ulf Kruger and Gibson Kemp, we learn much more about this young female photographer who, at the time, had no idea that her friends and photography subjects would become the biggest band in the world.
— Trina Yannicos
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“Astrid Kirchherr: A Retrospective” is available for order on Amazon.com
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Editor’s Note: Read about Astrid Kirchherr’s first US appearance in Chicago in 1997 in the first issue of Daytrippin’ (available in PDF or hard copy format)