Remembering Lennon and his Indian connection

October 9th, 2010 - 9:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Paul McCartney New Delhi, Oct 9 (IANS) He was one rock ‘n’ roll star who made spirituality a statement, infused the ‘rock music bug’ in India and was responsible for showcasing Indian culture abroad. One of the world’s greatest visionary musicians, John Lennon was born 70 years ago on this day in 1940.

Lennon was born to Julia and Alfred Lennon at the Liverpool Maternity Hospital in England. he was named John Winston Lennon.

He was one of the few pop stars, who became a household name in urban and spiritual India, thanks to his tenure at the retreat of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh where he spent nearly six months with his band, Beatles, composing some of the ensemble’s cult tracks.

Deeply influenced by the philosophy of the Indian seer, Lennon virtually became the face of the Maharishi, the master of transcendental meditation, to the world of western contemporary music.

Several musicians trooped to India following in the Beatles footsteps and chased spiritual salvation at the retreat nestled in the lower Himalayas towards the end of the swinging 1960s - in the aftermath of the Vietnam war when an anti-war wave swept through the West.

The Beatles were inspired by the Indian philosophy in the 1950s. But they flew to India only in 1968 and met Mahesh Yogi, who had by then shot to fame for his book “The Science of Being and the Art of Living”.

The band had attended one of the Yogi’s transcendental meditation seminars a year ago in 1967 in Wales.

The group composed bulk of its “White Album” during this period. And Lennon even quit drugs and alcohol for a brief period during his stay at the ashram.

Lennon was linked to music by destiny.

He fared poorly in school. He was a happy-go-lucky pupil who spent his time doodling and mimicking teachers. His school report branded him “hopeless”. ‘He is wasting others time here’ - they said.

At 17, he formed his first band “The Quarrymen” after his mother bought him his first guitar in 1957. It was a cheap Gallotone Champion acoustic “guaranteed not to split”. It was delivered to the house. But she hoped that Lennon would grow bored with it someday.

“The guitar is all very well John, but you will never make a living out of it,” his mother commented when young Lennon strummed his first chords.

A year later on July 15, 1958, his mother was struck by a car and died.

The guitar changed his life forever.

He met Paul McCartney during a concert at Woolton July 2. He started writing songs with McCartney and their first song “Hello, Little Girl” climbed to the UK Top 10. Five years later, George Harrison joined the band along with Stuart Sutcliff, the bassist. The quartet became the Beatles.

“We all looked up to John. He was older… the quickest wit and the smartest,” they said.

Lennon, who married friend Cynthia early in life, later married artist, musician Yoko Ono of Japanese descent.

Of all his songs, Lennon is best remembered for his anthem “Imagine” - in which he described his ideal world.

Lennon was assassinated in 1980.

Even search engine Google paid a tribute to the Beatles cult by replacing its logo with a 30 second clip of Lennon. Thousands of fans worldwide poured in messages on Twitter and Facebook and wished the legend a very happy birthday Saturday.

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