LENNON LEGEND: an Illustrated Life of John Lennon, by James Henke (Chronicle)

LENNON LEGEND: an Illustrated Life of John Lennon, by James Henke (Chronicle).

 

As the ending to the John Lennon story proves, there is an unhealthy side to being an obsessive fan. Maybe if Mark David Chapman had this book – a fetishistic but fun scrapbook of Lennon memorabilia – he wouldnÕt have needed to give himself a role in the saga. He would already possess many pieces of Lennon, without clipping a hairlock or bidding at an auction for abandoned guitar picks – or committing a murder than still hurts millions.

 

Lennon Legend is a companion volume to Robert GordonÕs Elvis Treasure, which delved into the Graceland archives to create a treasure chest of facsimile items any fan would cherish. The Lennon artefacts come from the collection of the RockÕnÕRoll Hall of Fame (where former Rolling Stone writer Henke is now a senior curator), but it carries the imprint of Yoko Ono, with whose help it has been created. So as well as the charming Quarrymen business card, the programme for the parish fair where John met Paul, the Cavern clubmemberÕs book, and the hand-coloured magazine Lennon created as a child, there are the daffy conceptual artworks from the John & Yoko years. Unfurl your own Utopian flag (itÕs all white), read a peace note from Bag Productions, unfold a programme for the ÒYou Are HereÓ exhibition where John met Yoko, or the New York Times open letter which explained his absence in the late 70s.

 

It wonÕt bring him back, but youÕll own a piece of him – at $80 the 64 pages are more than $1 each but still good value – plus you can hear him speak from the grave with the 55-minute CD of sassy interviews (and a live version of ÔImagineÕ).

 

Imagine no possessions? Why bother when there are books like this with a high-fondle factor to take you closer to the Fabs than a scrapbook of clippings from the NZ WomanÕs Weekly or Beat Instrumental ever did. Like comfort food, it offers a return to a simpler age before life turned serious on December 8, 1980.

CHRIS BOURKE