Dark Facts About The Life Of John Lennon

John Lennon's name is heavily associated with peace, love, and togetherness. However, the man behind warmhearted classics like "Imagine" was an entirely different person behind the scenes. John Lennon's dark side often took the form of adultery, drugs, and even spousal aggression. The man who is thought of as an icon for the positive energy of the 1960s was reportedly cruel and callous to those he loved the most. 

In some ways, it's not entirely surprising. The lyrics of many of Lennon's classic songs are dark enough to leave listeners wondering, "Did John Lennon hurt his wives?" Many of the lyrics were autobiographical and those closest to Lennon have confirmed that domestic cruelty occurred. Lennon had a legendarily aggressive temper and admitted to some pretty disturbing deeds in interviews throughout his career. Learning a little about John Lennon's history will leave you rethinking your notions of the esteemed Beatle. 

  • He Almost Slayed A DJ Who Questioned His Orientation
    Photo: United Press International / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    He Almost Slayed A DJ Who Questioned His Orientation

    Before the Beatles shot into worldwide popularity, John Lennon almost slayed someone. Beatles manager Brian Epstein was openly homosexual and traveled with Lennon to Spain shortly after Lennon's son Julian was born. This led to rumors that Lennon and Epstein were romantically involved.

    At the famous Cavern Club, where the Beatles used to perform, a DJ made a snide comment insinuating Lennon and Epstein had hooked up during their trip. Lennon did not take kindly to this: He then beat the DJ, who repeatedly begged Lennon to stop. The DJ nearly perished from what Lennon had done. Lennon refused to apologize. Epstein had to forge Lennon’s signature on an apology sent via telegram. Lennon would later claim he was too high to realize what he was doing during the incident.

  • He Was Attracted To His Own Mother

    Lennon dropped a disturbing bombshell in a 1979 confession. Lennon openly admitted to harboring feelings for his own mother. He once described lying down next to her when he was an adolescent and accidentally touching her breast. He considered taking the interaction further and still regretted not having done so. On the tape, he said, “I always think I should have done it. Presumably, she would have allowed it.”

  • He Openly Admitted To Hitting Women In A Playboy Interview
    Photo: Both Sides Now Publications / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

    He Openly Admitted To Hitting Women In A Playboy Interview

    The song "Getting Better" contains the unexpectedly dark line, “I used to be cruel to my woman, I [hurt] her and kept apart from the things that she loved.” In a 1980 Playboy interview, Lennon admitted outright the line was autobiographical. He said he frequently hit women, both his wife and other lovers, throughout his youth. He also didn’t seem particularly apologetic, noting:

    I am not a [ruthless] man who has learned not to be [this way] and regrets his [aggressions]. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.

  • He Routinely Beat His Son For Having Bad Table Manners
    Photo: Deborah Anderson / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

    He Routinely Beat His Son For Having Bad Table Manners

    According to Lennon’s housekeeper, Lennon's son Julian Lennon had pretty decent table manners for a young child. But apparently, John did not agree with this assessment and did not hesitate to harshly punish his son for any indiscretions at the dinner table. If he felt Julian was misbehaving, it was not uncommon for John to strike his son.

  • He Reportedly Forced Yoko Ono To Accompany Him Everywhere
    Photo: Marcela Cataldi Cipolla / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

    He Reportedly Forced Yoko Ono To Accompany Him Everywhere

    Yoko Ono has been frequently blamed for causing strife within the Beatles. Some have even accused her of breaking up the band up altogether. However, John Lennon may have actually forced her to do lot of the actions for which Ono has been criticized. It was Lennon who reportedly insisted Ono come to music practice with him and even insisted she accompany him to the bathroom. This resulted in her getting an unfair reputation as a controlling and overbearing presence in Lennon’s life. She was even blamed for causing the band members’ friendships to fade.

  • He Cheated On Both His Wives
    Photo: Hamletphase / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    He Cheated On Both His Wives

    John Lennon was a well-known philanderer and cheated pretty frequently on both of his wives. During his first marriage, Lennon frequently slept with other women. Friends warned Lennon’s wife of his infidelity, but she did not listen. Lennon eventually drunkenly confessed to his indiscretions after six years of marriage.

    When he wed Yoko Ono, he cheated on her as well. He had an infamous affair with May Pang, assistant to the couple. However, Ono at least claimed to have tolerated the affair and reportedly saw it as a welcome break from the intensity of their relationship.