Lennon was a big-time animal lover, owning dogs and mostly cats his entire life. As a child, he had a cat named Elvis, and he'd go on to own a total of 17 during his life. In the early '70s, he had one black cat and one white, named Major and Minor, and later another black-and-white pair, which he named Salt and Pepper.
He Claims to Have Seen a UFO
In the early '70s, Lennon had an affair with May Pang, his secretary. For a period they lived in a penthouse on 53rd Street in Manhattan, where, on August 23, 1974, Lennon stepped out on the terrace, stark naked, and witnessed a UFO hovering overhead. He summoned Pang, who also claims to have seen the flying saucer. Pang phoned the police, who said they'd been receiving calls from others in the neighborhood reporting the sighting.
He Loved the Ocean
Lennon had a troublesome but strong relationship with the ocean. Raised in the port town of Liverpool, Lennon was separated from his father at a young age, when Fred Lennon left the family for the sea. John was always obsessed with the ocean, writing about it in many of his songs ("You Are Here," "Beautiful Boy" and more). Later, while living in New York City, he chartered a sailboat to Bermuda, where he recorded demos for his last studio album, 'Double Fantasy.' The sailboat ride also acted as a way for Lennon to quit smoking his beloved French Gitane cigarettes.
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He Jammed With Paul McCartney in L.A.
The period from summer 1973 to early 1975 is known as Lennon's "Lost Weekend." He and Yoko Ono separated and Lennon fled to Los Angeles with his assistant May Pang, who was now his lover. This period was his most productive; he completed three albums, produced for Ringo Starr and Harry Nilsson and recorded with David Bowie, Elton John and Mick Jagger. But, most notably, on March 28, 1974, Lennon and McCartney had their only post-Beatles recording session. That night Macca dropped by Burbank Studios, where Lennon was working on Harry Nilsson's 'Pussy Cats' album. It's was an all-star jam session: Lennon, McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Nilsson, the Rolling Stones' sax player Bobby Keys and more played rock classics including "Lucille" and "Stand By Me." "The room froze when McCartney walked in," reads a recent McCartney biography. "McCartney extended a hand, Lennon shook it, and the mood was pleasant but subdued, cordial but not especially warm, at least initially." The coke- and booze-fueled session—Lennon can be heard offering Wonder lines of cocaine, and later requesting them—was recorded and circulated among bootleggers as 'A Toot & A Snore.'
Lennon Planned to Record Again With McCartney
Before Lennon reunited with Ono, Pang, his lover during the "Lost Weekend," encouraged him to rekindle his relationship with McCartney. Lennon was even planning to travel to New Orleans to record with McCartney, who was then working on Wings' 'Venus And Mars' album. Instead he reunited with Ono, derailing the collabo.
The Location of His Ashes Is Unknown
After his murder on December 8, 1980, Yoko Ono had Lennon's remains cremated. Fans speculate that some of his ashes were spread at Strawberry Fields, an area of Central Park that Lennon often visited and was posthumously named for his famous Beatles song. However, the location of his ashes has never been disclosed by Ono.
He and McCartney Almost Reunited on 'SNL'
The last time McCartney saw Lennon was on April 24, 1976, when Macca dropped by the Dakota for an unannounced visit. The two watched 'Saturday Night Live,' during which Lorne Michaels—riffing off the then-fervent demand for a Beatles reunion—jokingly offered the Beatles $3,000 to perform live: "Divide [the money] up any way you want. If you want to give less to Ringo, that's up to you," he cracked. The two Beatles considered hopping a cab and heading straight to NBC's Studio 8H for a surprise performance. Lennon recalled the moment in an interview: "Paul and I were together watching that show. He was visiting us at our place in the Dakota. We were watching it and almost went down to the studio, just as a gag. We nearly got into a cab, but we were actually too tired [...] That was a period when Paul just kept turning up at our door with a guitar." The near-reunion on 'SNL' was explored in the film 'Two of Us.'
He and Harry Nilsson Got Very, Very Drunk
While Lennon was very productive during his "Lost Weekend," he also drank his face off with his buddy Harry Nilsson. Nilsson, who was championed by, and became close with, the Beatles in the mid-'60s, was particularly close with Lennon, a kinship over neither having had a father. Also, they both LOVED Brandy Alexanders, or what Lennon often referred to as "Milkshakes," a mix of cognac and milk. Those drinking bouts often became out of hand. Lennon and Nilsson were once thrown out of L.A.'s Troubadour for heckling a performance by the Smothers Brothers.
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He Loved the B-52s
When Lennon sailed to Bermuda he was re-emerging as a recording artist after a five-year period of inactivity to raise his son, Sean. While on the island in 1979 he wrote and recorded demos for his next album, ' Double Fantasy,' and found inspiration in the B-52s and their hit "Rock Lobster." He first heard the tune one night in a disco and immediately recognized singer Cindy Wilson’s screaming as an homage to Ono. Lennon listened to the the B-52s incessantly while recording 'Double Fantasy' and just prior to his death, he proclaimed the B-52s’ debut disc his favorite album ever.
He Was Raised By His Aunt Mimi
Lennon's father Fred Lennon, a merchant seaman, left when John was just five years old. His mother, then pregnant with John's half-sister Julia, then handed John over to her sister, Mimi. Mimi, renowned as a tough, unforgiving woman, raised John but was intolerant of his aspirations as a rocker. She famously told him, "The guitar's all right John, but you'll never make a living out of it." John kept in close contact with Mimi, calling her once a week until his death in 1980.
He Jammed With Cheap Trick
During sessions for 'Double Fantasy' at New York City's Hit Factory studio, producer Jack Douglas called in Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen and drummer Bun E. Carlos to add rock grit and power on Lennon's "I'm Losing You" and Ono's "I'm Moving On." Both were later re-recorded with studio musicians for 'Double Fantasy,' but the Cheap Trick version of "I'm Losing You" was later released in a Lennon anthology. Why were the tunes tossed from 'Double Fantasy'? Because the raw rock of "I'm Losing You" was out of sync with the rest of the LP's relaxed, slick feel. Look it up on YouTube and you'll see.
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He Was the Best Man in 'Young Frankenstein' Actor Peter Boyle's Wedding
'Young Frankenstein' actor Peter Boyle and Lennon were, surprisingly, close friends. Boyle met his wife, Loraine Alterman, a close friend of Ono's, on the set of 'Young Frankenstein' while she was on assignments as a reporter for 'Rolling Stone.' Via Ono, Lennon became close with Boyle and was his best man at the couple's 1977 wedding.
He Wanted to Write a Book of Children's Stories
Lennon was an avid writer of short stories; during his life, he published three books: 1964's collection of poems, stories and drawings 'In His Own Write'; 1965's stories and drawings 'A Spaniard in the Works'; and 'Skywriting by Word Of Mouth,' published posthumously in 1986. In numerous interviews, Lennon said he hoped to write a book of children's stories when he was old and retired from music.
His Last Performance Was With Elton John
In 1974 Elton John and Lennon made a bet: If "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night," Lennon's 'Walls and Bridges' single featuring Elton John on backup vocals and piano, hit No. 1 on the charts, then Lennon had to join John onstage at Madison Square Garden. Lennon lost the bet. In what would be his final major concert appearance, Lennon joined John for a performance of their hit single, plus the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and "I Saw Her Standing There."
He Loved Breakfast
Lennon struggled with his image and weight; in the mid-'60s, during the Beatles' 'Help!' album, he admitted to being overweight and eating and drinking "like a pig," referring to this period as his "fat Elvis" era. Later, in the '70s, some speculate that he was bulimic. Whatever his relationship with food, one thing was for sure: The guy loved to eat breakfast. May Pang has said that Lennon loved cooking and eating a full English breakfast, including black pudding (coagulated pig's blood cooked with a filler), and also relished blueberry pancakes. Lennon also had a taste for junk food; Pang has said that 'Walls and Bridges' was "made on Whoppers and pizza."
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He Was Dyslexic and Legally Blind
In his later years, Lennon discovered that he was dyslexic, and his eyesight was so poor that, without his glasses, he was legally blind. Perhaps because of this, he never learned to drive.