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Happy Birthday, John Lennon!

You don’t have to live in the Village to celebrate the birthday of John Lennon, who was born on October 9th, 1940.

John Lennon — born October 9th, 1940.

But Villagers, and those who love the Village, have a special reason to celebrate the birth of one of the greatest and most transcendent popular musicians of the late 20th century.

Bank Street; #105 is the white house at right.

Lennon is famously associated with the Dakota Apartments on the Upper West Side, where he lived for many years and outside of which he was killed on December 8th, 1980.  Though less well known, he also lived at 105 Bank Street, an 1846 rowhouse, from 1971 to 1972 with Yoko Ono, which they rented from Joe Butler of the Lovin’ Spoonful.    Ironically and sadly, Lennon and Ono moved from their Bank Street  apartment, which had no security and had been broken into and robbed, to the Dakota because they did not feel their safety could be guaranteed at their home in the Village.

(l.) Lennon and Ono in bed at their apartment at 105 Bank Street; (m.) Lennon with Norman Mailer at Barney Rosset’s house; (r.) Electric Lady Studios.

Those early years on Bank Street were not the only time Lennon spent in the Village.  He was known to attend lavish parties with the likes of Norman Mailer at the house of  Grove Press founder Barney Rosset at 196 West Houston Street.  He recorded at Electric Lady Studios, including his highly-popular collaboration with David Bowie, “Fame,” and is said to have done some recording at a former stable at 271 West 10th Street.  The famous pictures of Lennon wearing his “New York” t-shirt and flashing a peace sign in front of the Statue of Liberty were shot by Westbeth artist Bob Gruen (in fact, Lennon got lost in the mammoth and labyrinthine Westbeth complex looking for Gruen one afternoon in June of 1975).  And after his murder in 1980, a massive candlelight vigil was held in Washington Square Park marking his death.

Just some of the images of Lennon taken by Bob Gruen.

But perhaps Lennon’s deepest connection to Greenwich Village  was revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone’s Jann Wenner, in which he said:

“You know, I should have been born in New York, man. I should have been born in the Village! That’s where I belong! Why wasn’t I born there? Like Paris was in the eighteenth century or whatever it was, London I don’t think has ever been it. It might have been literary-wise when Wilde and Shaw and all them were there. New York was it! I regret profoundly not being American and not being born in Greenwich Village. That’s where I should have been. But it never works that way. Everybody heads towards the centre, that’s why I’m here now. I’m here just to breathe it. It might be dying, or there might be a lot of dirt in the air, but this is where it’s happening.”
No doubt many have shared similar thoughts, though few probably expressed them quite so well.

3 responses to “Happy Birthday, John Lennon!

  1. The guy is definitely a legend. No doubt about that. I wish he was American, too. I don’t want to imagine what it must feel like to have killed this man. I could never imagine killing this man, especially, even though I never want to imagine killing anyone. But, him, NO CHANCE. I almost was shot in the head by a man trying to break into my car while I was sleeping in it. He held the gun right up to my forehead. I told him to read his Bible! I meant it, too. You shouldn’t do that to people. Lol. Inside city limits.

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