TODAY

TODAY   |  October 08, 2010

Looking back at John Lennon

On the eve of what would have been pop icon John Lennon’s 70th birthday, veteran journalist Larry Kane reflects on one of music’s most complex figures.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> tomorrow marks what would have been the 70th birthday of john lennon . the book is lennon revealed, and he's also got a e-book, ticket to ride . you've been in the news business for 45 years and you were assigned to cover john lennon back then when he was on his north american tour in 1964 . you weren't really too sure about going into that assignment?

>> i didn't want to go. i thought this is much too light for a serious news man to cover and all of a sudden i wound up with a story of a lifetime that changed my life. i ask them questions about the news and they liked that. they were very bright. all four of them were extremely intellectual and they were into the news of the world, especially john who basically, natalee was the kind of person who said in public what he thought in private. think about that a bit. said in public what he thought in private and he was unafraid, even as a teenager and then later in life.

>> and john lennon did not let a lot of people get too close to him. yet you managed to really forge what was a 20-year friendship with him.

>> it was a good friendship, he came to philadelphia in 1975 for a charity function. he did the weather on my television news broadcast. we had very honest conversations. we screamed at each other once on a plane and this is what i respected about him. nothing ever stopped him from feeling the way he wanted to feel in public. he wanted me to leave the military, sneak over to england and go to work for them. i said this is not a problem for me, this is something i have to do. he said we'll get you out of the united states , we'll put you to work for them, which was the beatles company. and he was an extraordinary people , he cared about the people he loved.

>> so much has been said about his relationship with the other beatles and i think a lot of people wonder what really was going on behind the scenes , him and paul mccartney for example.

>> when you go back to the beginning at the coffee club where they cleaned toilets and painted toilets to stay working, when they played music for a stripper to keep going when they were 16, 17 years old. mccarthy was more of a person who wanted to be loved and care about, love and affection. john was a person who wanted to be heard. they both had viewpoints, but john was a person who wanted to lay it all out. truth for all of us is sometimes difficult. it was never definitely for him.

>> paul was more the showman, right? and you say that john lennon was actually pretty stage shy.

>> he did not like going on stage. we were backstage at the ed sullivan theater in 1965 the night before shea's stadium.

>> was he nervous?

>> very nervous and he was pacing back and forth. and mccartney was ready to go. mccartney always made love to the audience with his eyes. but john was a much more serious person in those days and really felt that he had to use this platform that he had to talk about the world. the song "imagine" is a perfect example. this is going to shock you, because you're probably too young to remember this. i know you are. but when "imagine" came out, it was banned in schools, in colleges across the country.

>> that's unbelievable.

>> "he said imagine no religion, imagine no borders."

>> and his relationship with yoke k yoko, the book was actually sympathetic to her.

>> yoko has kept the torch alive for 30 years since he died in a very dignified and respectful way. and in prague, the czech republic , they had a wall and they used to paint over it. now that they're free there they had the lennon wall and the world comes in castro's cuba. and they write letters to john and letters about his life and he influenced the world. more than any other entertainer probably of the last 40 or 50 years.

>> and a lot of people would be wondering what if he was still here today. thanks for coming by.