The first wife of the late John Lennon has written a candid and gripping memoir of their life together while the Beatles were formed and achieved worldwide fame in the 1960's.
The new book by Cynthia Lennon, simply titled John, may anger some John Lennon fans who believe their idol was only a kind and gentle musician who promoted world peace.
Cynthia portrays John as both loving and cruel, prone to violent outbursts and drug taking binges, but also tender and romantic. As she puts it, "John was part angel and part devil."
The book is coming out just months before the 25th anniversary of Lennon's assassination on December 8, 1980, outside his apartment building in New York City.
Cynthia Lennon says she is not trying to cash in on the anniversary, but felt a need to explain her life with John for the benefit of their son, Julian. She spoke about it with journalists at London's Foreign Press Association.
"I really wanted Julian to feel more about his father, because he has been very, very scarred in life because of his neglect," she explained. "I hope and pray that when he reads this book, and when I am not here anymore, it is in writing how his father felt about him and how much he was loved."
Among the never-before-told anecdotes in her book, Cynthia recalls how John went into a jealous rage after she danced with one of his friends when they were still dating.
"He just appeared out of nowhere, and smacked me in the face, which banged my head against the pipes and dazed me, and then (he) walked away," she recalled. "So I walked away. I said: 'I can handle verbal abuse. I can handle jealousy. But I would not cope or put up with any kind of physical abuse. So I finished with him at that point, only to last three months."
She blames much of John's violent behavior on his upbringing, when he was abandoned by his father, taken away from his mother and put in the custody of an aunt she describes as cold and manipulating.
The books delves into the early days of her marriage in 1962 after she became pregnant. The Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, kept her hidden, thinking fans would not accept the idea of John being married and a father.
Cynthia also describes how she came home from a short vacation abroad in 1968 to discover John with the woman who would later become his second wife, Japanese artist Yoko Ono.
"I have got this woman sitting next to my husband, and both in toweling robes. It is obvious she has been there for the night," she recalled. "I said: 'Oh, hi John. How about coming out for dinner?' I did not know what to say. And he just looked at me. They both looked at me. And he just said: 'No thanks.' I just did not know what to do. I had to walk away from the situation."
John and Cynthia divorced on November 8, 1968. In the settlement, the multi-millionaire pop star gave her only $240,000 for Julian's education.
Cynthia went on to marry three other men, saying the legacy of Lennon has put a strain on all of her subsequent relationships.
And on the last page of her book, Cynthia admits that she regrets ever getting involved with John. As she put it, "If I had known as a teenager what falling for John Lennon would lead to, I would have turned around right then and walked away."