No.165 (6/11/10)

Ain't That A Shame: The John Lennon Museum Closing

By Robert Finleyn
Chief Writer

He's considered one of the most influential musicians ever, and even though his life was cut terribly short in 1980, his legacy is still strongly felt today. One avenue honoring his legacy, however, is moving on and will no longer be accessible to the public. Hurry while you can, because the only offi cial John Lennon museum in the world, located in Saitama, Saitama Prefecture, is scheduled to close September 30.

Let us look back for a moment on the incredible life of the man honored by this museum. Born October 9. 1940 in Liverpool, England, John suffered through a rocky childhood that saw his mother killed in a traffi c accident when he was 17 and his father seemingly uninterested in taking part in his upbringing. Like many, he sought refuge in music, and eventually learned how to play the guitar, particularly his favorite hits from a blossoming genre -- rock and roll. Soon, John got the idea in his head to start a band, and formed The Quarrymen, named after Lennonfs school Quarry Bank High School.

Lennon and his bandmates would retain the name The Quarrymen until around 1960, when they chose the name The Beatles. The lineup shifted quite a bit at fi rst, and fi nally settled on the quartet of Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Richard gRingo Starrh Starkey. They grew to prominence in the Liverpool music scene, playing at popular clubs like The Cavern, where they were first seen by their future manager Brian Epstein.

Most people are familiar with the Beatlemania sensation and their legendary appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. For about a decade, The Beatles maintained an intense following and produced some of the most interesting, varied, and popular music in modern times. The seemingly impossible combination of not one, not two, not three, but four immensely talented musicians resonated all across the globe, but it was not fated to last forever. In 1970, after years and years of unparalleled success, the Fab Four broke up and launched very successful solo careers.

While the other three went off without any hard feelings, Lennon seemingly hit a crisis in his life. His marriage to Cynthia Lennon, which produced his fi rstborn son Julian, ended after years of turmoil. He had already begun seeing a young Japanese artist named Yoko Ono, whom he seemed to have an instant connection with. He made his living in America, and as a result of this and other factors, his relationship with his son was as strained as his was with his own father.

Around 1975 or so, Lennon decided to temporarily retire from music in order to focus on being a good father to his second son Sean, who was his fi rst and only with Yoko. While he became a househusband, his other three former bandmates carried on with successful solo careers. Lennon did not remain silent, however, as he had been active in the anti-war movement of the 70s and was a prominent advocate for peace.

The beginning of a new decade seemingly sparked something within Lennon, as he began to craft his fi rst full-on solo album in years. gDouble Fantasyh was released in the fall of 1980, and was still very popular when on December 8, 1980, a crazed fan shot Lennon several times as he returned to his New York apartment with Yoko. The world was stunned and saddened at the loss, but his legacy has continued to inspire new generations of musicians and culture. In honor of his 60th birthday, Ono opened The John Lennon Museum at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Saitama Prefecture. It's home to a unique collection of Lennon's writings, personal items, guitars, clothing, and other memorabilia associated with his incredible life and career. Some of Ono's avant-garde artwork is on display there as well, including a unique piece that is simply an old style telephone that Ono is said to occasionally call, involving the museum visitor in the piece itself.

In early spring of this year, Ono posted a brief letter to the fans who have made the journey to the museum to share in the celebration of his life. gJohn Lennonfs destiny spanned the whole world. His spirit came alive through movement, and without movement, it dies. If the Museum which houses his spirit never moved, it would be a grave, not a Museum. John does not have a grave. When he passed on, I publicly announced that I would not be holding a funeral for him. I did so because I knew his spirit would live forever. gAfter ten years here, John's spirit is now moving on ? looking onward to the next journey. Thanks to your love for the Museum, what we'd thought would be fi ve years became ten. gI'm so grateful to those of you whofve loved the John Lennon Museum. Johnfs spirit lives on in each of you, and I know your spirits will be the power of love that brings peace to the world. Thank you, everyone! With love, Yoko Ono.h

If you find yourself in the Tokyo area, it would be worthwhile to see this wonderful museum before it is gone forever.

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