3. Getting attention was the most important thing to Lennon. His nonconformity was a bid for it.
Lennon struck a pose throughout his short life as a nonconformist. But actually, he went with every major cultural fad that come along. In the late 1950s when he first started playing in bands, it was the Teddy Boy look — leather jacket, jeans, pompadour — sort of a cross between Brando and James Dean — that was the rage in England, so he went with it.
Next came a suit and tie — the look that Brian Epstein insisted for all the groups he was managing, including the Beatles. After the Summer of Love in 1967, Lennon appeared in granny glasses and an off-the-rack look from Sonny and Cher’s closet.
When the anti-Vietnam war movement reached a peak, he appeared onstage and on television in an Army shirt that he thought was used in Vietnam (actually, it was part of the uniform wore by US soldiers in Korea). His relentless media-grabbing events with Yoko Ono in the early ‘70s now seem to be such an obvious plea for attention that even at the time it was hard to miss the message, “Look at me.”
Nor was he unaware of how badly he wanted to be noticed, either.
I always was a rebel… but on the other hand, I wanted to be loved and accepted by all facets of society and not be this loud-mouthed lunatic, poet, musician. But I cannot be what I’m not.