The NEW book about John Lennon

John Lennon and Michael Hill

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John Lennon the boy who became a legend John Lennon the boy who became a legend

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John Lennon - The Boy

From when we were infants in our first year at school and as we grew up together, my friend John Lennon had kept me amused and diverted in the classroom and playground with his witty and clever use of English, his drawings and his hilarious and often outrageous antics.

     In our teenage years, as I in my turn entertained him at my family home by playing records from my growing collection of top twenty hits, country music and jazz, little did I realise that I was profoundly influencing the future direction of his life. I didn’t foresee the impact my records, and one record in particular, would have on him. By his own admission, hearing this record for the first time proved to be a turning point of his life. It awoke in him a latent musical and creative talent that led to his forming the most successful pop music group ever, The Beatles, and a highly creative song writing partnership–two ventures that would fundamentally influence the course of popular music throughout the world.

     How this came to pass and the events that shaped the character of the young John Lennon is a fascinating story that began during the Second World War in August 1940 in the port city of Liverpool in the northwest of England. The city at the time was under siege by Hitler’s air force.

      In between night-time bombing raids, two baby boys were born, only ten days and a couple of miles apart. Those two boys, born so close to each other in both time and space, under the same star sign of Libra, were destined to grow up together, to attend the same schools and to become good friends.

     The first born, Mike Hill (as I was known at school), would grow up to become a well-known figure in the international business of marine insurance. The second born, John Lennon, who I knew so well through the long years of schooling we shared, was lazy and lethargic. Apart from playing a mouth organ occasionally, he had no interest or ability in music before he was fifteen years old, yet he would become world famous, beyond his or anyone else’s imagination, as a rock music star, songwriter and peace activist. Not bad for someone who, after twelve years of education, left school without a single qualification, and was regarded by his school - and by many of his peers - as one of the boys least likely to succeed. How wrong can you be!

     Numerous books have been written about John Lennon since his meteoric rise to world prominence as the founder and leader of The Beatles, mostly after his senseless murder in New York City in 1980. Regrettably, much of what is written about him in these books, as well as much of the information on the Internet, is wrong or incomplete. This is especially so as regards his early life and the crucial events that led him to become a musician. Yet books continue to be published, and films to be produced, that perpetuate the myths of the John Lennon story.

     Of course, there were quite a few people who went to school with John Lennon, but I am one of only a very few who did so for almost the entire period of his schooling. We were in the same academic year throughout and in the same class most of the time. Always we were in the same group of friends.

     Thanks to our long and intimate friendship, I was able to observe John Lennon closely throughout his formative years, from the age of five when we met, to seventeen when we began to go our separate ways. Since then, I have had a lifetime to reflect on how his childhood experiences, some of them traumatic, profoundly shaped his adult attitudes and character. The ancient Chinese proverb, ‘In the boy the man’, seems particularly apt in the case of John Lennon. By writing this book I hope to set the record straight and to provide unique and revealing insights into the boy I knew who grew up to become the man the world knew.

     If I were able to ask him, perhaps John Lennon wouldn’t feel that our schooldays were the happiest days of our lives. Still, we did have a lot of laughs and a lot of fun along the way - from the innocence of our pre-pubescent boyhood to the stresses of developing manhood, and from life as infants in war-torn Liverpool to the thrill of experiencing together in our mid-teens the new cultural phenomenon of American rock ‘n’ roll. And I hope, as you read this book, you too find some fun and some interest in my recollections and observations on the making of John Lennon, the boy who became a legend.

 Michael Hill

 John Lennon at Dovedale School

Michael at John Lennon's statue in A Coruña, Spain, 2012