What John Lennon Thought About Late 1960s and Early 1970s Rock Stars

John Lennon made much of his best work in the late 1960s and early 1970s — and he apparently paid significant attention to some of the acts of that era. He once opened up about his feelings on Van Morrison, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fleetwood Mac and others who found success in that time period. Interestingly, certain other musicians from the era admitted the Beatles inspired them.

John Lennon wearing yellow glasses
John Lennon | Ron Howard/Redferns

Some of the 1960s and 1970s rock icons John Lennon listened to

One of the most famous books about John is a book-length interview called Lennon Remembers. It contains a December 1970 interview John gave to Jann S. Wenner of Rolling Stone. As the book’s title implies, it includes lots of John’s reminiscences. However, he also discusses contemporary music in the interview. 

“It’s interesting to hear Van Morrison,” John said. “He seems to be doing nice stuff … he is one of them that became an American like Eric Burdon. I just never have time for a whole album.” It seems John meant Morrison and Burdon (the lead singer of War) became American in the sense that they took lots of inspiration from American music.

“Moondance” by Van Morrison

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I only heard Neil Young twice,” John continued, “you can pick him out a mile away, the whole style. He writes some nice songs.” On the subject of folk-rock, John also discussed James Taylor. He admitted he wasn’t initially very interested in Taylor’s music. However, he grew to like Taylor’s work more and more as he heard him on the radio.

After that, John praised one of the most popular bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s. “I like Creedence Clearwater [Revival]. They make beautiful Clearwater music – they make good rock ‘n’ roll music. You see it’s difficult when you ask me what I like, there’s lots of stuff I’ve heard that I think is fantastic on the radio here, but I haven’t caught who they are half the time.

“Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

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The Beatles’ influence on popular 1970s musicians

Elsewhere in the interview, John said he could tell where all the newer groups like Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac “came from.” Specifically, he said that he could listen to newer groups and tell when they had taken some inspiration from the Beatles or other musicians.

Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac are very different bands, but you could argue they both took some inspiration from the Beatles. There’s certainly some similarities between Fleetwood Mac’s discography and the Beatles’ folk songs — and similarities between Led Zeppelin’s discography and the Beatles’ heavier rock songs. Interestingly, Far Out reports the Beatles took some inspiration from Fleetwood Mac. Specifically, Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross” inspired the Fab Four’s “Sun King.”

“Albatross” by Fleetwood Mac

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The Beatles’ influence doesn’t end there. According to Loudersound several other musicians who found success in the 1970s admitted the Beatles inspired them. These musicians include Gene Simmons of Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath, and Robert Fripp of King Crimson. John had quite a lot to say about 1970s rock music — and it owed quite a lot to him.