It’s been 30 years since John Lennon was shot and killed outside his New York apartment, but for his family, friends and fans, the loss sometimes feels as fresh as if it was yesterday.
John Borack takes a loving look back at the man behind the legend in his book, “John Lennon Life Is What Happens: Music, Memories and Memorabilia.” (Buy It Now). Borack has been a fan of Lennon’s work since the tender age of 5, when his father bought a copy of The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love”/”Baby You’re A Rich Man” 45 for this future music journalist.
1. What is your favorite piece of Lennon memorabilia featured in the book? And why?
There is plenty of cool Beatles and John Lennon memorabilia pictured throughout the book, but I would have to say my favorite piece is the Beatles pinball machine from 1966. Being a pinball lover from way back, this is one piece I would especially enjoy having as part of my personal collection.
2. How do you compare this to the other Lennon books out there? What makes this one different than the others?
I was very conscious of the overwhelming number of Beatles and Lennon books out there – particularly this year, with it being John’s 70th birthday and the 30th anniversary of his death. I think this book is a unique combination of a straightforward biography, a critical look at Lennon’s music and something of a memorabilia catalog. Toss in the rare and previously unpublished Lennon and Beatles photos, and it all adds up to something different and special, in my humble opinion.
3. How does this compare to the other books you have written?
This book came together relatively quickly in comparison to my first book (Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide), which took more than six years to complete, due to a variety of personal circumstances. With the Lennon book, we wanted to have it out in 2010 to celebrate John’s life and achievements during his milestone birthday year, so the deadline to complete it was much tighter. I can honestly say I’m very proud of it and the tight deadline kept me very focused on the job at hand.
4. How did you gather these pieces of Lennon memorabilia?
Most everything in the book was procured by the book’s editor, Mark Moran. He really did a fantastic job obtaining the rights to use such a wide variety of images and artifacts, including many that I – and other hardcore Beatles/Lennon fans – had never seen before. There are a few pieces in the book that are mine, but I’ll never tell which ones they are.
5. Did Yoko Ono help with the book?
No, Yoko was not involved, but she is aware of the book. Knowing John’s fondness for collecting old Beatles memorabilia, hopefully she’ll like it if she sees a copy.
6. Speaking of memorabilia, do you find it a little chilling and disgraceful that an auction house is auctioning off the album that Lennon signed for his killer?
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“Disgraceful” is a kind way of putting it.
7. In your life, has Lennon been the strongest influence on you?
John and Paul have always been the two Beatles closest to my heart, mainly due to the fact that they wrote most of the songs. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to greatly appreciate the fact that John was not only an amazing singer/songwriter/rhythm guitar player, but also that he was a loving husband to Yoko, a great father to Sean, and a poet, artist, peacenik and social activist. John Lennon was a true renaissance man if there ever was one, and someone whom I greatly admire.
8. What is your next book project?
My next book will be a biography of Paul McCartney, tentatively titled Yesterdays, and set for release sometime in 2011. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to delve deeper into Paul’s solo career and his life after the Beatles.