Beatles revealed: Why John Lennon’s ‘mother’ nearly didn’t buy his first guitar

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The Beatles were one of the most popular bands to have emerged from Great Britain in the last century. During their time in rock and roll, they crafted more than 130 songs in a short ten years period. Today they remain the-best selling music act of all time with more than 600 million sales worldwide. The Liverpool lads could never have imagined their success at the beginning of their career, while performing at the Cavern Club nor the ‘Beatlemania’ that would ensue. One decade after Paul McCartney formally filed to dissolve the band in 1970, John Lennon was gunned down by Mark Chapman outside his New York apartment. Still to this day many remember the loss, which is also commemorated in nearby Strawberry Fields in Central Park. But unearthed accounts from the singer-songwriter’s life reveal how he very nearly was denied fame and fortune by his family.

The revelations about John Lennon emerged less than a year after the singer’s death in December 1980.

Mary Elizabeth Smith, known affectionately as ‘Aunt Mimi’ to the star, gave her only ever interview about her ‘son’ to Southern Television.

She acted like a mother to the future Beatles’ legend, raising him after his parents split-up when he was just a baby. 

In later life, Mimi recalled him regularly visiting the home he bought for her in Sandbanks, Dorset.

There he was able to find a rare slice of solace and escape the pressures of fame – where he would perform cartwheels alone on the beach. 

John described her as the “the one person who alway understood” him and despite regular clashes with the strong matriarch, he always heeded her advice. 

But in an interesting admission, Mimi described how she nearly refused to buy him his first guitar – the instrument that would propel him to international superstardom. 

She had “battled against” the idea of buying one for him for “quite a long time” fearing about his studies, before she eventually caved. 

Mimi said: “I didn’t want him wasting his college time, missing lecturers by wasting his time playing his guitar, whereas his training would last.

“These things come and go, they are playing the guitar one week, when everybody’s clamouring for them and then they disappear, nobody ever hears from them again.

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“What was I going to do if I had a boy of 21 thrown back on my hands, qualified for nothing!”

She recalled her reluctance to purchase the instrument even when they were inside a guitar shop in Liverpool.

Mimi added: “He picked me up and kissed me on the cheek, and said ‘Mimi, can I have a guitar?’

“He hadn’t any money to get a guitar, there was only me who could buy him one, I remember we went into Liverpool and we went into a guitar shop where they were all over the place. 

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“I didn’t know anything about them so he chose one and it was 17 pounds.”

The guitar was a ‘Club 4 Hofner’ and would have cost the equivalent of £400 in today’s money. 

Later Mimi admitted that she could have never foresaw the success The Beatles would go on to have – and stated that they didn’t either.

She said: “I knew that they had something but nobody expected this, it was a shock to them too.”

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