The Ghost of John Lennon: Does His Spirit Live On?
Four Lads Who Shook the World
Born in Liverpool, slap bang in the middle of the swinging sixties, my life (like many others my age) has been steeped in the music and mythology of The Beatles. As musicians, they left an indelible mark upon the world, but nowhere more so than in the city where they were born. The Liverpool that moulded the greatest band in the world was, and still is, an exciting and vibrant place. A port that has welcomed people and cultures from all over the world, the city is a melting pot of creativity. Great artists, writers, actors, and of course musicians have all emerged from the streets of Liverpool, but few can claim to be greater than the ‘four lads who shook the world’, The Beatles.
Today, tourists travel to Liverpool from the four corners of the globe, keen to see where The Beatles began their journey to success. Tour buses weave up and down the city’s streets searching for the characters and places that influenced their songs, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, and the grave of Eleanor Rigby are photographed and ticked off the list. Everyone in this compact city can claim some connection to the Fab Four. For a while, I taught in Paul McCartney‘s old school. Despite the building he occupied being long demolished and a new modern school taking its place, tourists still stand outside and photograph the site where it once stood. Most intriguing to visitors though, must surely be the home where John Lennon lived with his beloved Aunt Mimi. An ordinary house on an ordinary road, Menlove Avenue, Mendips, as it is grandly named, is a time capsule preserved exactly as it was when the young John lived there in the forties and fifties.
The Death of John Lennon
A moment frozen in time, the news that Liverpool woke up to that fateful day was truly shocking. I can still see my mother coming down the stairs ashen-faced to utter the words, “John Lennon is dead.” My sister wept inconsolably for the rest of the day along with many others. It was a horrible December day in 1980 and shock reverberated around the city and indeed the world. Within days a memorial vigil was organised on St. George’s Plateau in Liverpool to mourn the passing of one of the city’s greatest sons. 100,000 people sang ‘Give Peace a Chance’ by candlelight. He would never be forgotten but nothing or no one could bring back John.
A Ghostly Presence
Since his death, increasing numbers of people have claimed to have seen or sensed the ghost of John Lennon. Is it possible that his soul lives on and is trying to reach us? Some of these are psychics and mystics who suggest that they have been contacted by the irrepressible spirit of the musician, others are ordinary folk. One psychic, Christine Hamlett, claims to have captured the image not only John but of George Harrison through a very unique process. Using silver origami paper Christine asks the spirits to reveal themselves to her before she takes a photograph. What John’s message is, she doesn’t reveal.
Not surprisingly, many of the ghostly sightings of John Lennon have been in and around The Dakota in New York, where he lived and died. A sprawling Gothic building built in the nineteenth century, its exterior was used in the film ’Rosemary’s Baby’ and has attracted rumours of hauntings and curses ever since. Lennon himself claimed to have witnessed the ghost of a crying lady walking towards him along its corridors before disappearing into thin air. In 1983, three years after his death, two residents of the building, Joey Harrow and Amanda Moores, saw John Lennon standing in the doorway where he had been assassinated. Bathed in an eerie light, John appeared deep in thought, perhaps contemplating the utter futility of his passing. Yoko Ono also witnessed the ghostly image of her husband in the apartment they once shared. Seated at his grand piano he turned to his wife and comforted her with the words, “Don’t be afraid I am still with you.”
The White Peacock
In 1977, John Lennon wrote and recorded the song ‘Free as a Bird’. Fifteen years after his death the surviving three Beatles, Paul, George and Ringo, gathered together to add their voices to the track. Throughout the recording, the three men felt the presence of John, even claiming to hear his name as the song faded out. It was the photoshoot afterward that brought the real suprise, though. During his lifetime, John promised to send his loved ones a white feather as a sign when he passed away. As the photographer snapped the group, a rare white peacock wandered into shot to the amusement of the three bandmates. Paul McCartney later stated,
“I said to the other guys, ‘That’s John!‘ Spooky eh? It was like John was hanging around. We felt that all the way through the recording.”
The White Feather Foundation
When John Lennon told his young son Julian that a white feather was a sign that he was watching over him, he couldn’t have realised the poignancy or the impact his words would hold in the years that followed.
Julian once stated: “One thing Dad said to me should he pass away, if there was any way of letting me know he was going to be ok, the message would come to me in the form of a white feather. Then something happened to me about ten years ago when I was on tour in Australia. I was presented with a white feather by an Aboriginal tribal elder, which definitely took my breath away. One thing for sure is that the white feather always represented peace to me.”
Convinced that as promised, the spirit of his father was sending him a message, Julian set up The White Feather Foundation which embraces humanitarian and environmental issues for the betterment of all life.
Psychics, Astrologers, and Sixth Sense
In 1966, according to his first wife Cynthia, Lennon received a letter from a psychic warning him that he would be shot whilst living in the United States. From that time onwards, he developed an interest in spiritualism and attended numerous seances. It is rumoured that during one seance, the spirit of his manager Brian Epstein warned him that he would be shot and to take care. In 1969, while holidaying in Greece, Lennon was warned that he would be killed on an island. Believing that the astrologer was referring to a Greek island, the musician returned home. Years later, his wife Yoko Ono realised that the astrologer was in fact referring to the Island of Manhattan. It seemed that John Lennon lived his whole life in the public eye, in fear of assassination. Despite the warnings of psychics, astrologers, mystics and his own sense that he would die young, he could do nothing to avoid what ultimately was his fate, a lone assassin with a gun, Mark Chapman.
Millions still mourn the death of John Lennon and are surely comforted by the thought that his spirit lives on after death. Lennon himself firmly believed in the afterlife,
“I am an optimist about eternity. I believe in life after death. I believe that death is not an end but a beginning.” – John Lennon
Today, his ghost may well haunt the Dakota where he died, the Abbey Road Studios where he recorded or even the famous Cavern Club where he first found fame. Myself, I like to think his spirit may just have found its way home to the little house where he lived with his Aunt Mimi. I often drive down the road where Mendips stands. On summer days it is obscured by tour buses and sightseers but in winter if you glance quickly from the corner of your eye and the light is just right, you can almost see the young schoolboy who shook the world still leaning on the old wooden gate and imagine.
John Lennon’s Childhood Home
John Lennon’s Childhood Home
Do you think The Beatles deserve the title of the world’s greatest band
- The Liverpool Echo
- The Daily Star
- The White Feather Foundation