Wednesday, April 6, 2016

John Lennon- the Boy who Became a Legend -- Book Review

Over the years I have written and heard from many, many of John Lennon's childhood chums. Pete Shotton's book, for example, is a great book and Pete has many amazing stories to tell as being John's best friend during his school years.  I have heard the Quarry Men perform and talk at various Beatles conventions, and I always enjoy the stories they share about knowing John. When I picked up Michael Hill's book, John Lennon:  The Boy Who Became a Legend, I had no clue who Michael Hill was in relation to John.  Come to find out, most of us Lennon lovers know of Michael Hill but do not know his name.  Michael is overlooked in every Lennon biography, with the exception of Goldman's book (interesting).

Michael Hill was a classmate of John Lennon's. But unlike Shotton and the others, Hill went to school with John from the age of five up to the end of John's schooling at Quarry Bank. And they weren't just classmates; Michael was someone in John's circle of friends. They spent a lot of time over the years playing together and causing mischief.

Do you see Pete and John in the middle of the photo? Then there is someone with their head down, and next to that guy is Michael Hill. 

What I found interesting is that Michel recalls how John was during his early school years, when he was between the ages of 5 and 7. He suggested (and rightfully so) that John misbehaved so much because he was confused and angry that both of his parents had left him and that he was now living with his strict aunt. He was most likely acting out his frustrations and lack of understanding.  

Michael's big claim to fame in the life of John Lennon is that Michael was the guy that John and his buddies used to skip lunch hour and go to his house in Liverpool. They would smoke and eat fish and chips while listening to records on Michael's family record player.  Michael worked as a newspaper boy and saved up his money to buy records.  However, the record that influenced John Lennon so much was one that Michael picked up when he and Pete Shotton and other classmates went on a class trip to Holland--one that John didn't go on.  That record was Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally"  with "Slippin' and Slidin'" as the B-side.  John says in several interviews about how he used to go to a friend's house and listen to records and how when he heard "Long Tall Sally," he knew he wanted to be a rock n roll singer.  It was shortly after hearing that record that John got his first guitar and started the Quarry Men.

I really enjoyed the book. It was a quick read and was upbeat and fun.  It retold some familiar stories and also told some new ones about John's childhood and school days.  The only thing I could do without is the speculation that the author had that some Beatles song was written about something from Liverpool.  Lucy in the Sky could be about a candy shop in Liverpool?   Magical Mystery tour might have been thought of because of some mystery park in Liverpool?  A little bit of a stretch for me, but then again---who knows?

The copy I read was purchased the book through The Fest for Beatle Fans.  But it is also available on Amazon

 The link below is the affiliate link to Amazon, where you can purchase this book.  I get a small percentage of anything purchased through this link.  Money made from the Amazon Afflication is used to pay the annual fee to keep this site online.  Thank you for your support.  Sara


  1. Thanks for the fair and favourable review Sara. Thus book was my sincere personal tribute to a good friend who greatly enlivened my school days and whose memory I treasure and honour. It may be helpful for your readers to know that the book is available on line from the web site

  2. I was just going to comment that Michael is mentioned in Lewisohn's book... but what a delightful surprise to see he has been here and posted. I just bought your book, Michael. And, on behalf of Lennon fans everywhere, I wanted to say THANK YOU for being John's friend (couldn't have always been easy) and for introducing him to Little Richard. (And if you ever see Pete, send him our love as well.) Love and luck