The John Lennon Series Synopsis
In September 2012, New Musical Express voted John Lennon “The Greatest Icon of All Time.” A composer with over 210 songs to his credit, a talented musician and singer, a Foyles Literary Award-winning author, a critically acclaimed artist, a political activist, and wit, John Lennon was, arguably, the most influential man of the Twentieth Century. Honored by the United Nations for his endeavors toward world peace and memorialized by the eternal Peace Tower in Iceland, Lennon continues to influence modern music and thought.
In The John Lennon Series, a 9-volume work covering John Lennon’s life, Jude Southerland Kessler presents each of Lennon’s talents in a chronological and thoroughly-documented historical narrative. To date, Kessler has given 33 years to the over-awing project.
In Volume I, Shoulda Been There, the reader is introduced to Lennon as a talented little boy, “a genius, if there is such a thing” to paraphrase Lennon. Then, after the death of his mother, Julia, John develops into an angry, lonely, resentful teen finding his heart’s expression in rock’n’roll. When John forms a skiffle band, The Quarrymen, and dreams of becoming “bigger’n Elvis,” the seed is planted for the formation of The Beatles.
Each volume in The John Lennon Series reveals another stage in Lennon’s life and peels back yet another layer in the “glass onion” of John’s vast abilities. In Volume 2, Shivering Inside, the young man emerges as a tremendously talented guitarist, and singer/songwriter – proving that he indeed has “music in his bones” as his mother always insisted. His band, The Beatles, skyrocket to Number One in the United Kingdom and stand poised to conquer the world.
In Volume 3, She Loves You, the band releases With The Beatles, top “Sunday Night at the London Palladium,” impress Britain’s royals at the Royal Command Performance, complete an extensive tour of Britain, perform in Paris, and then…hit America! Their three Beatlemania-filled weeks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Miami bring John and his band to the “toppermost of the poppermost!” At last, they seemed to have brought their dreams to life.
But, Should Have Known Better, Vol. 4 in The John Lennon Series, chronicles the most hectic and difficult days of John’s career, March 1964-December 1964. As John releases his first book, In His Own Write, accepts the Foyles Literary Award, stars in the film, A Hard Day’s Night, and writes most of the songs for the film as well, he struggles to cope with unending work. With Paul, George, and Ringo, he tours Sweden, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand and then returns to London and Liverpool for the gala premieres of A Hard Day’s Night. All this takes place before setting out on the grueling North American tour that shuttles The Beatles from San Francisco to New York to Montreal, New Orleans, Key West, and all points in between! The Beatles hang on and endure as Beatlemania rages and the LP, Beatles for Sale, is scribbled in catch-as-catch-can moments.
In Vol. 5, She Said, She Said, the events of 1965-66 in which John and The Beatles evolve from “the greatest bar band in the world” into a complex “studio group,” are detailed. Lennon matures and becomes a harried musician/author caught in a failing marriage. Forces begin to divide the family that was once The Beatles, and the summer of 1966 brings tumult in its wake – tumult that leads to the end of touring.
With each of the last four volumes in The John Lennon Series, John’s myriad abilities will emerge, and John is constantly presented to the reader not as a musician, artist, or Beatle, but as a complex soul with “a sadness too deep for words,” as he once told Stu Sutcliffe. An emotional childhood, the untimely loss of his beloved Uncle George, the tragic death of his mother, and the scarring loss of Stu (his soulmate), seared John with an intense despair and longing that success could never quench. Constantly searching for “the next big thing” to make him whole, John lived his life desperate to discover fulfillment. British poet, William Wordsworth, once wrote: “The child is father of the man,” and truly, John Lennon, “The Greatest Icon of All Time,” was always just a little boy, longing for love in an unfeeling world.