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Plenty of artists have toxic fans but few call them out in their own music. John Lennon was one of the few. In a single song, he attacked Christianity, the Hare Krishna movement, and the delusional fans who came to his door.

John Lennon in front of floral wallpaper
John Lennon | Harry Benson/Express/Getty Images

When John Lennon equated the Beatlemania with religion

During his solo career, John dealt with a lot of his frustrations through song. Sometimes he discussed his dissatisfaction with the world in an accessible way, like in “Imagine.” Other times he went for the jugular.

In “I Found Out,” John attacks religion, telling people they shouldn’t look to Jesus Christ or Hare Krishna gurus to solve their problems for them. In addition, he says he’s “seen religion from Jesus to Paul.” The line itself is ambiguous, as the Paul in question could be Paul the Apostle or Paul McCartney. However, the Beatles Bible reports the lyric is about the latter, so John appears to be equating the Beatles fandom to a religion in that line. Fans often interpret “I Found Out” as a condemnation of people looking to religious figures or celebrities for salvation rather than themselves.

How John Lennon felt while creating ‘I Found Out’

“I Found Out” by John Lennon

The tone of the song isn’t happy but reports conflict as to whether John was upset when he recorded the song. According to reference guide John Lennon: Listen to This Book, record producer Klaus Voormann recalled John breaking down during the recording of the song. However,in some of the outtakes of the “I Found Out” record John is in a jovial mood. Regardless, John’s vocals on “I Found Out” sound bitter and rather aggressive.

The aggressive fans discussed in ‘I Found Out’

John Lennon holding a steering wheel
John Lennon | Keystone/Getty Images

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In another lyric from the song, John calls out “the freaks on the phone [who] won’t leave me alone.” In an interview with Rolling Stone, Jann S. Wenner asked John about that lyric. John said he wrote that line “Because I’m sick of all these aggressive hippies or whatever they are, the ‘Now Generation,’ being very uptight with me. Either on the street or anywhere, or on the phone, demanding my attention, as if I owed them something. I’m not their f*cking parents, that’s what it is.”

Although plenty of celebrities have disagreeable fans, John had fans who actually felt entitled to enter his home. “They come to the door with a f*cking peace symbol and expect to just sort of march around the house or something, like an old [Beatles] fan. They’re under a delusion of awareness by having long hair, and that’s what I’m sick of. They frighten me, a lot of up-tight maniacs going around, wearing f*ckin’ peace symbols.”

John had other negative fan experiences he didn’t mention to Wenner. For example, he told Life fans used to throw candy at him and other members of the Fab Four. John’s fans certainly caused problems for him, but the fact that they saw him as a parental figure is a testament to how much his music resonated.