John Lennon’s Falling Out With The Beatles’ Biographer Ended With an Angry Phone Call: ‘You Rotten Sod’

Only one book about The Beatles was published during their time together. However, John Lennon had some criticisms for the book. Here’s how the author behind The Beatles: The Authorised Biography reacted to his words.

The Beatles in a row
The Beatles | John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images

John Lennon said ‘The Beatles: The Authorized Biography’ censored The Beatles’ lives — here’s why

John famously gave an interview to Rolling Stone’s Jann S. Wenner which Wenner later published as a book called Lennon Remembers. John told Wenner that Hunter Davies’ The Beatles: The Authorised Biography was not truthful at all. He said it didn’t mention The Beatles’ orgies because the members of the band didn’t want to hurt their wives’ feelings. In addition, he said he would have preferred a book that was “real.”

For The Guardian, Davies wrote about John’s response to The Beatles: The Authorised Biography. “John had a go at my book on the Beatles, the only authorised biography,” he said. “When it came out, in 1968, it was seen as brutally honest. Hard to believe now, but at the time biographies of popular heroes revealed no warts. The word ‘f*ck’ was used and taking LSD admitted. Daring, huh?”

Hunter Davies near rocks
Hunter Davies | Colin McPherson/Corbis via Getty Images

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He discussed John’s concerns about the book. “I didn’t go into sexual detail about the groupies, which everyone who followed pop knew anyway, because all four were married or engaged, but I liked to think the book contained no lies,” he said. “So I was well pissed off when John, talking to Wenner, said my book was ‘bullsh*t.’ as if I had whitewashed their whole story. I rang John in New York, some months after the Wenner interview had appeared in Britain, saying ‘You rotten sod.’ He apologized: ‘You know me, Hunt. I just say anything.’ That was the last conversation I had with him.”

How Hunter Davis praised Jann S. Wenner’s interview with John Lennon

Even though Davies didn’t like what John had to say in Lennon Remembers, he still praised the book. He said Wenner did an excellent job of interviewing John. In addition, Davies said Lennon Remembers is fascinating even if it’s not completely factually accurate. He also felt Lennon Remembers was still relevant because of The Beatles’ continued popularity.

Jann S. Wenner at a podium
Jann S. Wenner | Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

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How the critics reacted to ‘The Beatles: The Authorized Biography’

John was openly critical of The Beatles: The Authorised Autobiography. However, the book still received critical acclaim. Rolling Stone ranked it the sixth best book ever written about The Beatles, one place behind Lennon Remembers. The top four, from lowest to highest ranking, were The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn, The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles by Peter Brown and Steven Gaines, Revolution in the Head by Ian MacDonald, and Love Me Do! The Beatles’ Progress by Michael Braun. John said some contradictory things about The Beatles: The Authorised Biography, but it still seemed to resonate decades after its release.

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