Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Lennon: The Definitive Biography” as Want to Read:
Lennon: The Definitive Biography
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Lennon: The Definitive Biography

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,491 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
The best and most complete biography about the influential Beatle.
Paperback, 784 pages
Published January 5th 1993 by Harper Perennial (first published April 15th 1986)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Lennon, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Lennon

No One Here Gets Out Alive by Danny SugermanThe Dirt by Tommy LeeThe Heroin Diaries by Nikki SixxScar Tissue by Anthony KiedisThe Long Hard Road Out of Hell by Marilyn Manson
Best Books on Rock and Roll
87th out of 550 books — 938 voters
Please Kill Me by Legs McNeilChronicles, Vol. 1 by Bob DylanLove Is a Mix Tape by Rob SheffieldOur Band Could Be Your Life by Michael AzerradJust Kids by Patti Smith
Best Non Fiction About Music
91st out of 901 books — 811 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,494)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dawn Lennon
Sep 28, 2015 Dawn Lennon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
A great biography fills in the gaps about a life, not every gap but enough of them, to give us a clearer picture of who someone is versus who we think they are from our personal experiences and/or observations. Great biographies are well-written, easy to follow even when that life isn't linear, insightful about relationships, revealing about motivations that contribute to decision-making, fair in balancing the strengths and weaknesses of that life, and rich in insider knowledge about what has ma ...more
Connor
Jun 12, 2012 Connor rated it it was amazing
Lennon by Ray Coleman was the most gripping book I have ever read. The story of his life is full of grief, sadness, anger, happiness and death. Ray Coleman demonstrates what John Lennon's life was like besides the fame and glory. I recommend this book to anyone that is a Beatles or a Lennon fan or anyone who is generally interested in this topic.

The book starts off in Liverpool, 8th of October 1940, It is the height of the London Blitz, most of Liverpool has been blown to bits but Julia and Alfr
...more
E
Jan 24, 2009 E rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
What I appreciate most about this book is that the author has genuine admiration for his subject and demonstrates this through sincere attempts to understand everything Lennon endured and did. This is a welcome respite from the usual biographer who is almost always out to unleash the most sordid, tabloidesque details for the sake of sales, or at least has a vendetta against Yoko Ono.

Coleman does not apologize for Lennon's infamous behavior and he shouldn't. The man beat his girlfriends after his
...more
Jenny Downing
Oct 18, 2011 Jenny Downing rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this! Picked up at a charity shop for 1 (rrp on the book just 3.95 in the day, I wasn't seeking it so was doubly delighted to enjoy it so much.

I learned so much about the Beatles and John Lennon's life. Fascinating. Ray Coleman was close to the Beatles and John in his capacity of music reporter so the book is not based on library research alone. I am a born again Beatles/Lennon fan, listening to the music and referring to the book for the biographical background to some of the lyrics.
...more
Misti Rainwater-Lites
Nov 20, 2012 Misti Rainwater-Lites rated it it was amazing
Received this book in my xmas stocking when I was a kid. It's my all-time favorite biography. I was so obsessed with John Lennon for so many years that I married my first husband partly because his birthday is the day before John Lennon's and my birthday is the day before Yoko Ono's. I thought we might be soul mates on the basis of our birthdays and a few other things. I was wrong about the marriage but I am not wrong about this book. It rocks.
Larry
Jul 12, 2010 Larry rated it it was amazing
this is a great book about the great John Lennon. The only thing is that the missing years of 1975-1980 are still missing. Nothing must be known about them. The book takes you through his turbulent childhood, through the turbulence of the Beatles, his marriages, his kids, and what troubled him most during his life. The book ends with the very tragic shooting that took his life in 1980. I highly recommend it.
gazoo
Dec 20, 2011 gazoo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fab book about a pretty interesting guy. Author does a nice job of taking us on lennons personal journey and his struggle and strength of mind to not be pigeon holed by fans and continue searching and experimenting and expressing within and without to be John Lennon the musician, artist and humanitarian. Listening to Double Fantasy especially this time of year brings on some extremely positive vibes.
Brandy Potter
May 15, 2014 Brandy Potter rated it did not like it
Thais book is so full of lies and unsubstanciated crap! I read and purchased this book before I knew better, before I knew about anything Beatles related. First and foremost, the people he interviewed were either minor hangers on that knew nothing or completly misquoted. As usual Cynthia and Julian and most of JOhn's family were relegated to minor irritations. The loving relationships that he had with them completly erased. Even his relationship with Yoko seemed sterile and immoral (which in som ...more
Robyn
Jan 16, 2016 Robyn rated it liked it
This is one of the best biographies I have ever encountered! It reads very easily and feels more like a novel of Lennon's life, yet it provides tons of detail and insight. There is very little bias, it shows both the good and the bad side of John Lennon. Although it's a very long read it was worth the time.
Apolla
Aug 02, 2011 Apolla rated it really liked it
the first book about John Lennon I ever read, and probably still one of the best I've seen. It's honest without being cruel and paints a picture not of St John but of a human being who happened to be spectacular.

I've read it so many times that I've totally broken the spine.
Arnold
Jan 06, 2008 Arnold rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-beatles
The only book you need to read on John Lennon. Authoritative and Ray was one of the few writers who could genuinely claim to be a close friend of the superstar
Firos Journo
May 03, 2013 Firos Journo rated it it was amazing
The definitive biography about one of the greatest humanists and musicians the modern world has ever seen. Must-read for any Lennon lover.
Anna
Mar 05, 2016 Anna rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Loved. A descriptive and insider view of the life of one of my personal favorite musicians.
Joe Rodeck
Mar 20, 2014 Joe Rodeck rated it liked it
One of the reasons this book is so voluminous (691pp) is that because it is not well-outlined it gets redundant. Halfway thru the book, he's talking about "Please Please Me" again on the same page as "Double Fantasy." Its jumping back and forth makes it tiring.

I'd recommend a solid Beatles bio instead; the house husband era is a bore.

Further, if you're a box scores kind of fan; you'll be disappointed that there's no discography.

On the plus side, there's unsensationalized "everything you ever
...more
Rob Hermanowski
Oct 20, 2009 Rob Hermanowski rated it really liked it
Probably the best Lennon bio out there.
Maggie
Apr 30, 2016 Maggie rated it really liked it
"Maggie, what were you like in middle school? Quiet? Funny? A tr00 emo?

No one has actually ever asked me that, but any one of you could be wondering it. It is hard for me to say what I was like in middle school, as I have successfully blacked most of it out. Fortunately, I have a fact to tell you so you can head in the right direction about what I was like in middle school. We had an assignment in the 7th or 8th grade to read a biography of some kind about a famous person. We had to write an out
...more
Isabel H.
By: Ray Coleman
Biography
106 pages

John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940 in Liverpool, England. When he was four years old, his parents separated and he ended up living with his Aunt Mimi. As a boy and young adult, John enjoyed drawing grotesque figures and cripples. He made it to art school, and was not allow to play Rock and Roll. In college, he met a woman named Cynthia Powell, who became his first wife. His mother died before his 18th birthday. John did not like to talk about the death of hi
...more
Leigh Roberts
Jan 05, 2013 Leigh Roberts rated it really liked it
Enjoyed
Ronn
Mar 05, 2016 Ronn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've read many Beatles and Lennon biographies over the years; I cant honestly say which is the most accurate. I would say the this one would make a pretty good claim, having been written by someone genuinely close to Lennon, but I really dont know. There have been so many conflicting claims made over the years, all by people claiming equal authority. I can say that this book would have benefited from better editing as chronology is not followed, and this can make for considerable confusion. Ther ...more
Brodiesmom
Jul 13, 2014 Brodiesmom rated it it was amazing
Everything. This book makes you feel like you know everything, everything there is to know about John Lennon and makes you realize what a sad, sad world we live in without more of his amazing talent.
Sean Beckett
Apr 03, 2015 Sean Beckett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb. It's another big read. The introductions almost put you off due to their size, but persevere. Having not read another biography of Lennon it's hard to gauge how accurate the depiction is, but it feels true. Probably a little kind given Coleman's closeness to Lennon and Ono. On the whole well worth the time and effort to read with some interesting insights to Lennon's activities in mid/late 70s. Appreciating that he wasn't everyone's cup of tea, you can't help but wonder what he would hav ...more
Jeff Reding
Jun 07, 2014 Jeff Reding rated it it was amazing
Shelves: john-lennon
I've read Coleman's book at least three times and it it's my go-to book for post-Beatles information, mostly for release dates.
Tom Madej
Oct 19, 2012 Tom Madej rated it really liked it
I can't quite give the book 5 stars but it certainly rated 4. As a side note for you Beatle factoid nuts ( of who I am one )Coleman lays the sacking of Pete Best squarely at the feet of producer George Martin. I knew that Martin had had a session dummer sit in for Pete on an occasion or two. However, in this book Coleman says that Martin was the one who said Pete must go. Pete doesn't mention this in his book, "Beatle! The Pete Best Story". Pete's tales of the bands days in Hamburg, Germany, in ...more
Meg
Jul 11, 2008 Meg rated it really liked it
Truly the definitive biography for the late great John Lennon

I remember reading my big fat red library edition of this book before my psych class started in high school. After discovering I was reading about Lennon, my psych teacher went in to a long discussion about where he was the night he heard Lennon was shot. Kind of set the mood for the rest of the day in that class... bummer.
AJ Griffin
Jul 03, 2007 AJ Griffin rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who hold candles and sing "imagine" on every Nov. 8th
When it comes to John Lennon, there are pretty much two kinds of biographies: the kind ones, and the nasty ones. This book falls into the former, but regardless of any favoritism it's probably the most comprehensive of the bunch. Part of my feels kind of pathetic for being qualified to make that statement.
Danimal
May 14, 2010 Danimal rated it it was ok
If this is the definitive Lennon bio, we're in trouble. Seems like he was too close to the subject, and Yoko who he apologizes for a lot (altho perhaps she merits it?), to be critical at all. Altho he does hate the last album.

Some good stories, but not enough of them.
Doug Campbell
like with most books about john, this has many stories that are re-hashed over and over again. there are a fair amount of different takes on his life in this book, but many of them you (if you have been a fan of him or the beatles for any lenght of time.
Lupe
Nov 21, 2008 Lupe rated it liked it
Extremely detailed biography of John Lennon. It describes the larger than life Beatle in a very real way without any over zealous tones. It tends to be a little too detailed perhaps even for the biggest Lennon fans.
Vallin
Jul 19, 2010 Vallin rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
jb tomkinson
Jan 11, 2013 jb tomkinson rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A very comprehensive biography of John Lennon. After I read the book, my perspective on John Lennon changed...also with Cynthia and Yoko
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 83 84 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Lennon Remembers: The Full Rolling Stone Interviews from 1970
  • The Beatles
  • A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles
  • Many Years from Now
  • The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970
  • The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of the Beatles
  • All You Need Is Ears: The inside personal story of the genius who created The Beatles
  • The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics
  • A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song
  • Shout! The Beatles in Their Generation
  • Postcards from the Boys
  • Memories of John Lennon
  • The Longest Cocktail Party
  • Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America
  • The Beatles: Unseen Archives
  • In His Own Write
  • Magical Mystery Tours: My Life with the Beatles
  • Imagine: John Lennon

Share This Book