The Truth About John Lennon's Troubled Life

The English writer D.H. Lawrence — plays, novels, short stories, literary criticism — is remembered for lots of things, not least of which is advice quoted long after his death in 1930: "Trust the tale, not the teller." It's an interesting question when it comes to art, or even history: look at the person doing the creating, or only the creation? Are they separate? Or does the artist's life provide context that's necessary to understand the art? Does Frank Sinatra's violence take away from his voice? Alfred Hitchcock's treatment of his actors detract from his cinematic legacy? John Lennon beating his wives erase some diamonds from Lucy's sky?

Lennon was born to strife, arriving in this world during a German air raid in 1940, says Biography. He was raised by his aunt and saw little of his father, though he was visited regularly by his mother, who taught him to play the banjo and piano. He was devastated when she was struck by a car and killed in 1958. Four years later he married Cynthia Powell, with whom he had a son, Julian, named after Lennon's mother. The marriage lasted about six years before they divorced and he married Yoko Ono.

He reportedly abused both Cynthia and Yoko

If professional success and family are two keystones of personal happiness, Lennon was the exception. In 1980, according to The Mirror, he told Playboy magazine, ""All that 'I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved' was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically — any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women." According to Listverse, the abuse moved with him to his marriage to Ono as well. As Vice quotes from the same interview: "That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace."

Perhaps more tragically, he took his rage out on his son with Cynthia, claiming that he was trapped into the marriage because of a pregnancy. In the same Playboy interview, says The Mirror, he said that Julian's conception was "born out of a bottle of whiskey on a Saturday night." For his part, Julian shared some honesty of his own: "Mum was more about love than Dad. He sang about it, he spoke about, but he never really gave it, at least not to me as his son."

"Give peace a chance," Lennon sang with Ono in 1969. Pity he didn't follow his own advice.