Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, Johnny

October 9, 1960

John Lennon and his band by now are becoming accustomed to playing at the Kaiserkeller, a very much nicer club than the Indra.  Like the Indra, it is situated on "Der Grosse Freiheit", but a little closer to the Reeperbahn, a street which is often crowded with people looking for an entertaining evening out.  The Beatles are sharing the stage each night with another legendary band from (where else?) Liverpool, Rory Storme and the Hurricanes, which features a great drummer named Richie Starkey, AKA Ringo Starr.

Today was John's 20th birthday.  There are no extant accounts that I can find of how he celebrated it, but most likely he was too energized/exhausted by the rock and roll lifestyle to do much of anything special.  So let's reflect on the goings on of 20 years previous (70 years ago today), the day John Lennon first saw the light.

On the day John was born, England was in the last throes of the famous WWII "Battle of Britain".  This is the name given to the attempt by Hitler's Germany to counter British resistance to Germany's territorial ambitions by bombing London in the summer of 1940.  When London didn't succumb, Hitler recognized that he was in for a longer fight and directed his bombers to widen their scope to other targets.  Among these was Liverpool, a major center of English shipping and industry.

Thus it happened that John's entry into the world was accompanied, within a day or two, by the scream of air-raid sirens.  He was born at the Oxford Street Maternity Hospital, a couple of miles from the home where he would spend much of his childhood, his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George Smith's house.  Only a few weeks before, Winston Churchill had delivered his famous speech in praise of the Royal Air Force - "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."  Hence, the new boy was given the patriotic middle name of Winston.

Happy Birthday, John.  We miss you.

 Oxford Street Maternity Hospital

Indiana University photo

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