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After a raucous night, the Los Angeles police arrived at John Lennon’s home to respond to a noise complaint. Lennon had had bad experiences with the police in the past and was nervous about having them search his home. When they left, Lennon flew into a rage. Strangely, his fury wasn’t toward the police, but Roman Polanski, who hadn’t been present that night. 

A black and white picture of John Lennon sitting near a window.
John Lennon | Michael Putland/Getty Images

Police searched John Lennon’s home after a chaotic night

After a night out, Lennon, his girlfriend May Pang, and several others went back to Lennon’s home, where they continued drinking. At some point, Lennon thought it would be funny to smash a bottle of Coke over his friend Jesse Ed Davis’ head. He knocked him out, and Davis’ girlfriend began screaming. Davis recovered, but the noise was likely alarming to neighbors. Shortly after, the police arrived at the home, which terrified Lennon.

“He had an automatic fear of the police,” Pang wrote in the book Loving John. “The sight of them always took him back to the time he and Yoko had been busted for possession of drugs in 1968. He bolted up the stairs and hid in the bedroom.” 

Pang let the police into the house, and they conducted a search. They found nothing, so they left after warning the small party not to make any more noise. 

John Lennon began to destroy his home while yelling about Roman Polanski

Davis and his girlfriend quickly left. After Pang walked them to their car, she heard Lennon yelling from the house.

“John was upstairs,” Pang wrote. “Shaking with rage, he had attacked the four-poster bed and was doing his best to break loose one of the posts. ‘It’s Roman Polanski’s fault!’ he screamed. ‘Roman Polanski is to blame for everything.’” 

Pang was surprised by his outrage toward Polanski. While they had met the director, Lennon had never expressed any anger toward him.

“I watched as he systematically began to demolish the room,” she wrote. “His fury was terrifying as he set about trying to destroy every object he could get his hands on. He picked up the television and hurled it against the wall. He used a lamp to smash the mirror and then hammered the lamp against a chair.” 

Eventually, Lennon stopped, but not before he had destroyed nearly everything in the room.

The former Beatle had a notorious temper

The incident, while frightening, was not necessarily surprising to Pang. Lennon was notorious for his temper and could often be destructive. On more than one occasion, he was thrown out of clubs for heckling performers. While heckling The Smothers Brothers during their act, Lennon also attempted to punch their manager. At Paul McCartney’s birthday party, Lennon flew into a rage and began violently attacking one of his friends. 

John Lennon wears sunglasses and stands near a car.
John Lennon | Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Paul McCartney Still Thinks About Something John Lennon Told Him During a Fight

He spoke about the disconnect between his public promotion of peace and his tendency for violence.

“I fought men and I hit women,” he told Playboy in 1980. “That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace.”

How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text START to 88788.