Scottish Highlands remembering Lennon.

I love these little stories.  It has been said before that we as uber-Beatles’ fans have heard every story again and again.  These small asides are the types of stories that I relish as a fan.  It helps to paint a complete picture of those guys that we love.  I never knew, or should I say, I knew little of Lennon’s visits to the Scottish Highlands before reading this.

It reminds me of the Lennon sailing stories that we posted a few weeks ago.  fascinating stuff.  I know most Beatle books are dense, and we can’t always include each and every detail so it’s nice to see these small stories get highlighted.

Here’s what we’ve read.

John Lennon, Yoko Ono and their children Julian and Kyoko in Durness in 1969John Lennon’s links with the Highlands are being promoted in an effort to attract tourists to the area.

The late Beatle spent long summer holidays in Durness, Sutherland, between the ages of nine and 14.

The area helped inspire his song In My Life, and he returned with Yoko Ono, son Julian and Ono’s daughter Kyoko.

It is hoped the launch of a new website, North Highlands Scotland, will encourage visitors to see why Lennon was so taken with the remote area.

The tourism initiative by North Highland Tourism Operators Ltd (NHT) is being headed by Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay, who spends much of the summer at the Castle of Mey in Caithness.

Lennon and his first cousin Stanley Parkes used to stay at the family croft at 56 Sangomore at Sango Bay.

Mr Parkes was working as a tourist information officer in Durness when he received a telephone call soon after 8 December, 1980, telling him Lennon had been killed in New York.

“John never forgot those times at Durness,” he said.

“They were among his happiest memories. He loved the wilderness.

“The croft belonged to my stepfather, Robert Sutherland, and John just loved the wildness and the openness of the place.”

He said the pair used to go fishing and hunting and that Lennon loved to go up into the hills to draw or write poetry.

“John really loved hillwalking, shooting and fishing,” he said.

“He used to catch salmon. He would have been quite a laird.

“In the last letter to me before he was killed, he quoted a famous Scottish saying that says ‘It’s a braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht since I last had a word’.”

Car crash

Lennon returned to Durness with his wife and their children in 1969 but the holiday was marked by a bad car accident near Loch Eriboll.

Lennon, who had notoriously poor eyesight and rarely drove himself, crashed on one of the narrow northern roads.

He received 17 stitches for facial injuries while Ono received 14 stitches in her forehead.

Following a five-day stay at the Lawson Memorial Hospital in Golspie, Sutherland, Lennon told reporters: “If you’re going to have a car crash, try to arrange for it to happen in the Highlands. The hospital there was just great.”

Mr Parkes added: “Yoko had the car, a white British Leyland Maxi, shipped to their home in Ascot, England, and mounted in the garden on a concrete plinth as she considered it ‘a happening’.”

A memorial commemorating Lennon’s links with Durness was unveiled in 2002 by Mr Parkes.

“I am delighted that John’s life and times in Durness are being highlighted,” Mr Parkes said.

‘Untapped potential’

Officially launching NHT, Prince Charles said: “I have always been struck by the riches of the area in terms of, not just its natural beauty, but of the human tradition, of music and culture which are so precious and which I can only hope will become more and more recognised as people begin to discover this extraordinary part of the world for themselves.”

Former MSP Mike Russell has written a book, The Next Big Thing, about Lennon’s links with Durness and a film about his time in the Highlands is also in the pipeline.

“Durness had a major impact on John Lennon. It really was where he was often happiest in an at times unhappy childhood,” Mr Russell said.

“During my research it was quite clear John connected hugely with the area and it holds an untapped potential to attract tourists to see the place that helped shaped John Lennon.”

Source: BBC News


3 Responses

  1. I’ve always been fascinated about John’s trips to Scotland during his childhood… I first read about it in the Anthology book. There were some snippets that said he got his first harmonica on a trip there… and I’m sure everyone knows that John was aching to go back to England in the years leading up to his death – as well as Scotland. I’d love to visit one day if possible 🙂

  2. […] Highlands to host Lennon festival. I really don’t know about all this.  There was a story back in January talking about how the Scottish Tourism board was going to promote Lennon’s […]

  3. […] that the Scottish Highlands were using John Lennon, and his love for the highlands as a tool to promote tourism.  It looks like that PR campaign is coming to fruition in the form of a John Lennon festival this […]

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