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IMAGE: John Lennon and Yoko Ono
AP file
Did Beatle John Lennon (here with wife Yoko Ono during their 'bed-in' for peace in 1969) go from mop-top to radical ... to conservative?
TODAY staff and wire
updated 7/11/2011 9:34:33 AM ET 2011-07-11T13:34:33

Had John Lennon lived, would he be a right-wing pundit by now?

Lennon's final personal assistant Fred Seaman, who worked with the former Beatle from 1979 until his death in December, 1980, says in a new documentary that the musician had outgrown his radical views and was turning conservative.

Seaman is quoted in songwriter-turned-filmmaker Seth Swirsky’s new documentary, “Beatles Stories," according to WENN.com. He says Lennon had become a fan of Ronald Reagan, who was elected U.S. President in 1980.

He says, “John made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Reagan’s democratic predecessor) Jimmy Carter.”

“He’d met Reagan back, I think, in the ‘70s at some sporting event…. Reagan was the guy who had ordered the National Guard, I believe, to go after the young (peace) demonstrators in Berkeley, so I think that John maybe forgot about that… . He did express support for Reagan, which shocked me," adds Seaman in the film.

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Lennon was always the provocateur in the Beatles, infamously joking that they were “more popular than Jesus.” After he left the band, Lennon moved to New York and embarked on a solo career that dovetailed with his growing anti-war activism. He and wife Yoko Ono engaged in “bed-ins” and other publicity stunts to draw attention to peace efforts, recording songs like “Give Peace a Chance,” “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” and “Imagine.” Though Lennon spent much of the late 1970s caring for his son Sean, he returned in 1980 with "Double Fantasy," an album that was not critically well-received.

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According to Seaman, “He was a very different person in 1979 and ’80 than he’d been when he wrote ‘Imagine.’ By 1979 he looked back on that guy and was embarrassed by that guy’s naïveté.”

Lennon also allegedly took to poking fun at the liberal scene he had left behind, and at those who still believed in those ideals.

“I also saw John embark in some really brutal arguments with my uncle, who’s an old-time communist,” says Seaman in the documentary. “He enjoyed really provoking my uncle. Maybe he was being provocative … but it was pretty obvious to me that he had moved away from his earlier radicalism.”

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Seaman’s credibility may be a factor: He was convicted of stealing Lennon’s personal effects and diaries after the assassination, and was sentenced to five years of probation.

But Lennon’s former publicist and friend Elliot Mintz says on TMZ.com that it’s all hogwash:

“From the time I met John in 1971 until the end, all of those things he expressed in ‘Imagine’ were part of his belief system until the last breath of his life,” says Mintz. “If you listen to the last recorded interviews that were done with John, you’ll hear him express in his own words …  his own beliefs … which are virtually identical to the beliefs he held in ’71.’

Swirsky’s “Stories” is traveling the film festival circuit, and does not have a distributor at this time.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive

Video: What is John Lennon's lasting legacy?

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