John Lennon ‘was a rebel’ – ‘snuck into gigs without paying’

Ringo Starr opens up in 2011 about the death of John Lennon

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Before The Beatles were world-famous they were playing every venue they could ​throughout the midlands and the north of England. During this time the likes of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr became fast friends with legendary Northern Echo and Sunday Times photographer Ian Wright. During their years as friends, Wright learned a lot about Lennon’s defiant early years.

Wright spoke exclusively to about the newly-refurbished Stockton Globe, where unpublished photos of The Beatles are now being displayed permanently.

He recalled: “We all had the same upbringing… but Lennon, of course, with his parents – his father being away and his mother who died.

“It was pretty difficult for him. He was a rebel, there’s no doubt about it.”

His father, Alfred Lennon, was absent for most of Lennon’s life.

Lennon’s mother, Julia Lennon, was fatally hit by a car on July 15, 1958. ​He was just 18-years-old​ at the time. ​

Julia’s death affected John greatly. After she died, he allegedly spent a lot of time drinking over the next few years.

However, this tragic event brought him ever-closer to McCartney, who also had lost his mother at a very young age.

Wright recalled a time when he decided to ask Lennon about his upbringing and his generally aggressive demeanour, as well as ​his clothing choice and coiffed hair he sported ​on tour.

He said: “Where did you get all this anger? And all the leather stuff you had in Hamburg?”

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Lennon replied: “Oh, my hero is Gene Vincent. He came to the London Empire once for a week and I snuck in every night for nowt [free]. I got his autograph!”

Vincent was an American rock and roll singer who ushered in the Rockabilly style of music alongside Elvis Presley.

It’s easy to see the comparisons between Vincent and Lennon as a youth, with the same style of hair and leather jackets.

Ever the joker, Lennon couldn’t help but tell Wright exactly what he did not like about Vincent after he met him​, however. ​

He said: “You know, he looked like a rocker, he dressed like a rocker, and he smelled like a f*****g rocker.”

Wright continued to photograph The Beatles when they attended a venue on his beat, including the Stockton Globe on the night JFK was assassinated.

The star was reportedly told about the news just moments before he went on stage on November 22, 1963, prompting him to ask: “Should the show still go ahead?”

Once Lennon had finally taken his position in front of the microphone he told the thousands of screaming fans: “Have you heard John Kennedy’s been shot?”

11 months later The Beatles returned to the Stockton Globe to perform alongside the legendary Motown star Mary Wells.

Shortly thereafter, the Fab Four made their way to the USA, where their fame skyrocketed into Beatlemania.

Get your tickets to the Stockton Globe here.

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