Amanda Harding
April 01, 2018

The enduring image of John Lennon depicts the ultimate peace-loving hippie — a man who could only “imagine” a perfect future without possessions, greed, hunger, and war. The world remembers him as a musical genius who loved deeply, expressed himself fully, and was eventually martyred for his ideas.

But as with most things, the truth about Beatles frontman John Lennon is much more complicated than it first appears. The story of the real Lennon — a deeply troubled, complicated, and even depressed musician who took out his aggression on his loved ones — came to light when a letter from his longtime housekeeper was discovered and published. The letter shows a very different man than the righteous victim who’s remembered with reverence.

Studies show that as many as 22% of men cheat on their partners — still, that’s no excuse for the pain John Lennon inflicted on the women in his

He frequently cheated on his first wife, Cynthia Powell, with scores of different partners. Powell gave birth to Lennon’s only son after he impregnated her while she was renting out his childhood bedroom in Liverpool.

Lennon’s most famous affair was with Japanese artist Yoko Ono. He got her pregnant, too, though she later miscarried. He divorced Powell to wed Ono but did not quell his philandering ways.

Julian was a sensitive child, but that didn’t stop his father from criticizing or even physically abusing him. The housekeeper’s letter reveals that in rare times when the singer was around, he’d often lash out against Julian for small offenses such as poor table manners.

Like so many musicians, John Lennon frequently indulged in illegal substances. The housekeeper confirms that even though there was a small child present, Lennon would leave drugs and paraphernalia “lying around the house.” In an interview, Lennon admitted that at one point he was, “smoking marijuana for breakfast.”

That famous photo of their “Bed-in for Peace” portrays John and Yoko as a deeply loving and committed couple. But in real life, he was an obsessive, jealous partner. The public blamed Ono for “destroying” the Beatles by distracting the singer from his bandmates and eventually causing them to break up, but sources say he was the instigator behind the co-dependent relationship.

Lennon would often force Ono to accompany him everywhere, including to band practice and even to the bathroom. She later said his eventual affair with the couple’s assistant May Pang was a relief because it toned down his constant surveillance.

A 1980 Playboy interview was published 2 days after Lennon’s death. In it, he talked about how 1965 was his “fat Elvis period.” He even said the song “Help!” was a literal cry for help during a period that he felt “fat and depressed.” Lennon talks about going through times of “deep depressions where [he] would like to jump out the window.”

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