John Lennon: I’d move to Ireland if the British Army called me up
A young John Lennon had planned to move to Ireland in a bid to avoid National Service with the British Army, according to a new book.
The book is called ‘The Beatles and Me’ and is written by Ivor Davis who toured with the Beatles in their early days. He was there when the band made their American debut and witnessed the ‘Beatlemania’ phenomenon from the beginning.
He had been sent on tour with the band to ghost write George Harrison’s column for British newspaper the Daily Express.
Davis was one of the only journalists to stay with the band for the entire duration of their first North American tour. He travelled with them on their chartered jet and attended every concert.
When speaking to RTÉ about his new book he revealed that Lennon had planned to avoid National Service if he was called up. National Service in Britain was declining by the early 1960s, but had been compulsory in the past during conflicts. Healthy young men aged 17-21 were expected to serve 18 months in the army, and remain on the reserves list for a further four years.
However, Lennon, who had Irish ancestry, told him that he would move to Ireland in order to avoid the call up.
Davis said: “I’d been in the British Army on National Service and John told me `if I ever get called up to serve in the British Army, I’m going to emigrate to Ireland. Seriously’
“I thought he was joking but he was probably not joking because if John, as many young men in Britain were, was called up then their careers as Beatles would have been over.”
In the later years, Lennon became an anti-war activist and famously had two week long bed-ins for peace (in Amsterdam and Montreal) during the Vietnam War with wife Yoko Ono in a bid to promote peace. Many of his songs contained strong anti-war messages such as Imagine and Give Peace a Chance.
Davis also explained that he had to omit many of the band’s activities from his publications, or else they would have not allowed him to continue following them round.
He said that he enjoyed his time with the Liverpool band, and that John was his favourite member. He revealed that he used to play Monopoly with Lennon at three in the morning, and that the Beatles frontman would “always cheat”. Although Davis said that he did get his own back on Lennon after winning money from him in a game of poker.
Take a look at Davis’ interview with RTÉ in the video below.