Tittenhurst Park

This Tittenhurst Park blog is dedicated to John Lennon's home in Sunningdale, near Ascot, Berkshire between 1969 and 1971. The aim is to gather as much material relating to the estate as possible - obviously with the emphasis on the Lennon-era, but also concerning Tittenhurst Park as it was before and after John Lennon's ownership. In addition, there will be posts about and associated with the Beatles, plus any other rubbish I feel like. The blog is purely meant for the entertainment of anyone (assuming there is actually anyone) who, like me, has an unhealthy interest in one particular Georgian mansion. Those with anything interesting to contribute in the way of links, photos, scans, stories etc. please do contact me: tittenhurstlennon@gmail.com
(Legal: this blog is strictly non-commercial. All material is the property of the photographer/artist/copyright holder concerned. Any such who wishes a picture etc to be removed should contact me and I will do so. Alternatively, if someone is happy to see their photo on here, but would like a credit/link then let me know and I'll be happy to provide one).


Tittenhurst Park: Now

Happy 70th Birthday John

If John Lennon had only been one of the four members of the Beatles, his artistic immortality would already have been assured. The so-called “smart Beatle,” he brought a penetrating intelligence and a stinging wit both to the band’s music and its self-presentation. But in such songs as “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” “Rain” and “In My Life,” he also marshaled gorgeous melodies to evoke a sophisticated, dreamlike world-weariness well beyond his years. Such work suggested not merely a profound musical and literary sensibility - a genius, in short -- but a vision of life that was simultaneously reflective, utopian and poignantly realistic.

While in the Beatles, Lennon displayed an outspokenness that immersed the band in controversy and helped redefine the rules of acceptable behavior for rock stars. He famously remarked in 1965 that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus” - a statement that was more an observation than a boast, but that resulted in the band’s records being burned and removed from radio station playlists in the U.S. He criticized America’s involvement in Vietnam, and, as the Sixties progressed, he became an increasingly important symbol of the burgeoning counterculture.

But it was only after the breakup of the Beatles in 1970 that the figure the world now recognizes as “John Lennon” truly came into being. Whether he was engaging in social activism; giving long, passionate interviews that, once again, broadened the nature of public discourse for artists; defining a new life as a self-described “househusband;” or writing and recording songs, Lennon came to view his life as a work of art in which every act shimmered with potential meaning for the world at large. It was a Messianic attitude, to be sure, but one that was tempered by an innate inclusiveness and generosity. If he saw himself as larger than life, he also yearned for a world in which his ego managed at once to absorb everyone else and dissolve all differences among people, leaving a Zen-like tranquility and calm. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,” he sang in “Imagine,” which has become his best-known song and an international anthem of peace. “I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.”

Such imagery, coupled with the tragedy of his murder in 1980, has often led to Lennon’s being sentimentalized as a gentle prince of peace gazing off into the distance at an Eden only he could see. In fact, he was a far more complex and difficult person, which, in part, accounts for the world’s endless fascination with him. Plastic Ono Band (1970), the first solo album he made after leaving the Beatles, alternates songs that are so emotionally raw that to this day they are difficult to listen to with songs of extraordinary beauty and simplicity. Gripped by his immersion in primal-scream therapy, which encouraged its practitioners to re-experience their most profound psychic injuries, Lennon sought in such songs as “Mother” and “God” to confront and strip away the traumas that had afflicted his life since childhood.

And those traumas were considerable. Lennon’s mother, Julia, drifted in and out of his life during his childhood in Liverpool - he was raised by Julia’s sister Mimi and Mimi’s husband, George - and then died in a car accident when Lennon was seventeen. His father was similarly absent, essentially walking out on the family when John was an infant. He disappeared for good when Lennon was five, only to return after his son had become famous as a member of the Beatles. Consequently, Lennon struggled with fears of abandonment his entire life. When he repeatedly cries, “Mama, don’t go/Daddy come home,” in “Mother,” it’s less a performance than a scarifying brand of therapeutic performance art. And in that regard, as well as many others, it revealed the influence of Yoko Ono, whom Lennon had married in 1969, leaving his first wife, Cynthia, and their son Julian in order to do so.

The minimalist sound of Plastic Ono Band was significant too. Lennon had come to associate the elaborate musical arrangements of much of the Beatles’ later work with Paul McCartney and George Martin, and he consciously set out to purge those elements from his own work. Co-producing with Ono and the legendary Phil Spector, he built a sonic environment that could not have been more basic - guitar, bass, drums, the occasional piano -- whatever was essential and absolutely nothing more. Lyrically, he turned away from the psychedelic flights and Joycean wordplay of such songs as “I Am the Walrus” and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” - as well as his books, In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works -- and toward a style in which unadorned, elemental speech gathered poetic force through its very directness.

On his next album, Imagine (1971), Lennon felt confident enough to reintroduce some melodic elements reminiscent of the Beatles into his songs. Working again with Ono and Spector, he retains the eloquent plainspokenness of Plastic Ono Band, but allows textural elements such as strings, to create more of a sense of beauty. The album’s title track alone ensured its historical importance; it is a call to idealism that has provided solace and inspiration at every moment of social and humanitarian crisis since it was written.

From there Lennon turned to a style that was a sort of journalistic agit-prop. Sometime In New York City (1972) is as outward-looking and blunt as Imagine was, for the most part, soft-focused and otherworldly. As its title suggests, the album reflects Lennon’s immersion in the drama and noise of the city to which he had moved with Yoko Ono. And as its cover art suggests, the album is something like a newspaper - a report from the radical frontlines on the political upheavals of the day. His activism would create enormous problems for Lennon, however. The Nixon administration, paranoid about the possibility that a former Beatle might become a potent leader and recruiting tool of the anti-war movement, attempted to have Lennon deported. Years of legal battles ensued before Lennon finally was awarded his green card in 1976.

Lennon’s political struggles unfortunately found their match in his personal life. He and Ono split up in the fall of 1973, shortly before the release of his album, Mind Games. He moved to Los Angeles and later described the eighteen months he spent separated from Ono as his “lost weekend,” a period of wild indulgence and artistic drift. Like Mind Games, the albums he made during this period, Walls and Bridges (1974) and Rock N Roll (1975), are the expressions of a major artist seeking, with mixed results, to recover his voice. None of them lack charm, and their high points include the lovely title track of Mind Games; Walls and Bridges’ “Whatever Gets You Through the Night,” a rollicking duet with Elton John that gave Lennon his first number-one single as a solo artist; and the sweet nostalgia of Rock N Roll, a covers album that was Lennon’s tribute to the musical pioneers of his youth. But none of those albums rank among his greatest work.

In 1975, Lennon reunited with Ono, and their son Sean was born later that year. For the next five years, Lennon withdrew from public life, and his family became his focus. Then, in 1980, he and Ono returned to the studio to work on Double Fantasy, a hymn to their life together with Sean. The couple was plotting a full-fledged comeback - doing major interviews to support the album’s release, recording new songs for a follow-up, planning a tour. Then, shockingly, Lennon was shot to death outside the apartment building where he and Ono lived on the night of December 8, 1980.

Lennon’s death broke hearts around the world. In the U.S., it recalled nothing so much as the assassination of John Kennedy in 1963, an event for which, ironically, the arrival of the Beatles a few months later had provided a welcome tonic. In the twenty-five years since, Lennon’s influence and symbolic importance have only grown. His music, of course, will live forever. But he has survived primarily as a restless voice of change and independent thought. He is an enemy of the status quo, a bundle of contradictions who insisted on a world in which all the various elements of his personality could find free, untrammeled expression. Innumerable times since his death Lennon has been sorely missed. And just as many times and more he has been present - evoked by all of us who find ourselves and each other in the music he made and the vision that he articulated and tried to make real.

Anthony DeCurtis



FBI cease John's fingerprints

It's John's 70th Birthday tomorrow... incidentally, that set of John's fingerprints has been seized from a shop by FBI agents.
See my post here
The signed document dates back to 1976 when the star applied for US citizenship.
FBI chiefs say the item is government property and are now investigating why it was in private hands. The card - which bears the name John Winston Ono Lennon - was set to be auctioned for at least £60,000. Peter Siegel, of the memorabilia shop in New York, said a concert promoter bought the fingerprints at a Beatles convention 20 years ago.


8 of John's solo albums digitally remastered and to be re-released on 9th October to celebrate his 70th birthday!

Eight of John Lennon’s solo albums and other recordings have been digitally remastered and will be re-released on 9th October to celebrate his 70th birthday Capitol Records/EMI announced.

The reissue project, overseen by Yoko, is called “Gimme Some Truth” and was launched on Oct. 4th in most of the world and Oct. 5th in North America with the release of eight remastered studio albums and several new titles.

The highlight will be the re-release of "Double Fantasy" in a newly remixed 2-CD set with a new "stripped-down" version remixed and produced by Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas, who co-produced the original mix with John Lennon. The release pairs the new version with Lennon’s original remastered mix.

“'Double Fantasy Stripped Down' really allows us to focus our attention on John’s amazing vocals. Technology has advanced so much that, conversely, I wanted to use new techniques to really frame these amazing songs and John's voice as simply as possible. By stripping down some of the instrumentation the power of the songs shines through with an enhanced clarity. 'Double Fantasy Stripped Down' will be complemented by the original album in the 2CD format. It was whilst working on the new version of this album that I was hit hardest emotionally, as this was the last album John released before his passing," Ono said.

Also available are: a hits compilation in two editions titled "Power To The People: The Hits"; a 4-CD set of themed discs titled "Gimme Some Truth"; and an 11-CD collectors box with the remastered albums, rarities, and non-album singles, titled "The John Lennon Signature Box." All of the remastered albums and collections will be available on CD and for download purchase from all the major digital download services.

Also being reissued are the Lennon albums "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band" (1970); "Imagine" (1971);
"Some Time in New York City" (1972); "Mind Games" (1973); "Walls and Bridges" (1974); "Rock ‘n’ Roll" (1975); "Double Fantasy Stripped Down" (2010) / "Double Fantasy" (1980) and "Milk and Honey" (1984).

The albums have been digitally remastered from Lennon’s original mixes by Yoko Ono and a team of engineers led by Allan Rouse at EMI Music’s Abbey Road Studios in London and by George Marino at Avatar Studios in New York. All of the remastered titles will be packaged in digisleeves with replicated original album art and booklets with photos and new liner notes by noted British music journalist Paul Du Noyer, according to EMI/Capitol Records.

"Power To The People: The Hits" gathers 15 of Lennon’s songs, and will be available as a 15-track single-disc and digital package, and as an Experience Edition with additional content. Both versions will be packaged in digisleeves with booklets including a new liner note essay by Du Noyer.

"Gimme Some Truth," which will be packaged in a slipcase with rare photos and a new liner notes essay by American music journalist and author Anthony DeCurtis, presents 72 of Lennon’s solo recordings on four themed CDs: "Roots" – John’s rock ‘n’ roll roots and influences, "Working Class Hero" – John’s socio-political songs, "Woman" – John’s love songs, and "Borrowed Time" – John’s songs about life.

The "John Lennon Signature Box" is a deluxe 11-CD and digital collection of the eight remastered albums, a disc of rare and previously unreleased recordings, and an EP of Lennon’s non-album singles. The CDs will be housed in digisleeves within a deluxe box including a collectible limited-edition John Lennon art print and a hardbound book featuring rare photos, artwork, collages, poetry, and new liner notes by DeCurtis.

“In this very special year, which would have seen my husband and life partner John reach the age of 70, I hope that this remastering / reissue programme will help bring his incredible music to a whole new audience. By remastering 121 tracks spanning his solo career, I hope also that those who are already familiar with John’s work will find renewed inspiration from his incredible gifts as a songwriter, musician and vocalist and from his power as a commentator on the human condition. His lyrics are as relevant today as they were when they were first written and I can think of no more apposite title for this campaign than those simple yet direct words 'Gimme Some Truth,'” Yoko Ono said in a statement.

FBI interest in John Lennon's application for U.S. residency

A John Lennon auction is of interest to the FBI. The Rock and Roll Pop Culture Auction started today and runs through until the 11th of October. Original collector's items are on the auction block, but one John Lennon item up for sale has been pulled and the FBI is investigating. John's application for U.S. residency in custody of FBI. John Lennon's application for U.S. residency is believed to be government property.

"The item has been under investigation by the FBI because it is considered government property," the auction house told reporters. The residency document has been taken off for bid. The starting bid was at $100,000. Just a few dollars.
The FBI hasn't made any comment on the item that was up for auction, but a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services official told reporters, "There is currently an investigation regarding the John Lennon documents in the auction and it's being headed by the FBI."