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Lennon: The Definitive Biography

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,813 ratings  ·  48 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)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  1,813 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Alex Johnston
Nov 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
Ray Coleman had advantages that other biographers dream about. He was writing soon enough after Lennon's death that he had access to many of Lennon's family members, in particular Mimi Smith, Lennon's aunt who'd raised him for most of his life. He had at least some of Lennon's correspondence. He was personally committed to the subject; well, all biographers more or less are, but he wasn't just doing it because he was a professional writer. He really wanted to write Lennon's biography.

Jun 12, 2012 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
Dawn Lennon
May 06, 2015 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
Oct 06, 2007 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
Jenny Downing
Oct 05, 2011 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.
Nov 27, 2011 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.
Misti Rainwater-Lites
Nov 20, 2012 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. ...more
AJ Griffin
Jul 02, 2007 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. ...more
May 31, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, adult
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. ...more
Apr 17, 2010 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.
Aug 02, 2011 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.
Jan 05, 2008 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
Rob Hermanowski
Oct 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Probably the best Lennon bio out there.
Firos BF
May 03, 2013 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.
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Loved. A descriptive and insider view of the life of one of my personal favorite musicians.
Frank Consalvo
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Good bio of John Lennon. May not be objective enough but a reader will be able to discern the facts and come to their own conclusions. I enjoyed it.
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can't tell you how many times I've read this!! Excellent book beginning to end!! ...more
May 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this and had an impulse to write to Yokohama about my experience. I never expected a reply and was astonished when I received one.
Gustav Gerät
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
very good book, I like it
Aug 09, 2019 rated it liked it
The book is really awesome.
Sara Jordahl
I'm actually giving this a 3 star. It wasn't a bad book by any means. I just knew a lot of this information already. Ray Coleman does a great job at informing us of John Lennon's life. I feel like some of it was left out or too much added in. I enjoyed the book either way and I'm glad I read it. ...more
Isabel H.
By: Ray Coleman
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
Nov 17, 2008 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
Brandy Potter
May 15, 2014 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
Jan 30, 2016 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
Sean Beckett
Apr 03, 2015 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
Joe Santa Maria
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If Ray Coleman could have, he would have married John Lennon. His love is apparent in every chapter. I mean he REALLY loved John Lennon.

So, when reading this book keep a few things in mind. Ray Coleman is the Yin to Albert Goldman’s satanic Yang. If you accidentally read the Lives of John Lennon by Goldman (mostly a work of fiction from a proven mental case), I recommend reading this book by Coleman. It’s like a book version of a nice hot shower.

Also, its hard to be objective when you are a five
Tom Madej
Oct 19, 2012 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
Joe Rodeck
Mar 20, 2014 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
Jul 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
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