John Lennon’s Favourite Songs Dig Into His Bedrock

It's a fiery collection of raunchy R&B, rock 'n' roll, and more...

John Lennon’s favourite songs are a glimpse into the private passions of an icon.

John Lennon died 42 years ago today (December 8th). Taken far too young, he left behind a legacy almost beyond words, one that has only grown deeper with each generation.

The Beatles’ icon helped to change pop culture forever, forging the 20th century’s most successful songwriting partnership. When Lennon & McCartney finally uncoupled, his solo years were dominated by grand statements – including the decision to step back from fame, and focus his energies on his young son, Sean.

John Lennon’s Favourite Songs Dig Into His Bedrock

Throughout his life, though, music was a central strand. From those early skiffle shows with the Quarrymen through to fully embracing rock ‘n’ roll, music was a magnetic portion of his life, something he gave his soul up utterly to.

As the Beatles criss-crossed the globe, John Lennon built an admirable record collection. Taking his then state-of-the-art KB Discomatic along for the ride, he filled it with his favourite discs.

The portable jukebox could only hold 40 songs, and this meant his formidable tastes had to become more defined, and centred. A constant companion in his life, the jukebox was later sold at auction in the late 80s – bought for £2500 by Bristol-based music promoter John Midwinter.

An absolute steal at the time, John Midwinter went about locating John Lennon’s favourite discs, and packing the jukebox with sounds that the Beatles icon adored. The South Bank Show documented his progress in a fascinating 2004 documentary, tracking down many of the artists featured in the list of John Lennon’s favourite songs.

John Lennon’s Favourite Songs Dig Into His Bedrock

The full 40 discs make for fascinating reading in their own right. You can find pivotal influences – Dylan, for example – alongside a plethora of rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly, and raunchy R&B numbers. John Lennon’s favourite songs go from Larry Williams, for example, through to peers such as the Animals, via Gary US Bonds, Gene Vincent, and Motown’s breakout smash ‘Shop Around’ by The Miracles.

He wasn’t churlish, either – the list includes fellow Merseybeat trailblazers the Big Three, Donovan (who sang backing vocals on The Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’) and ‘Daydream’ by the Lovin Spoonful.

Find the full list below, or spin the Clash playlist based on John Lennon’s favourite songs after the jump.

  • ‘In the Midnight Hour’ – Wilson Pickett
  • ‘Rescue Me’ – Fontella Bass
  • ‘The Tracks of My Tears’ – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
  • ‘My Girl’ – Otis Redding
  • ‘1-2-3’ – Len Barry
  • ‘Hi-Heel Sneakers’ – Tommy Tucker
  • ‘The Walk’ – Jimmy McCracklin
  • ‘Gonna Send You Back to Georgia’ – Timmy Shaw
  • ‘First I Look at the Purse’ – The Contours
  • ‘New Orleans’ – Gary U.S. Bonds
  • ‘Watch Your Step’ – Bobby Parker
  • ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’ – Derek Martin
  • ‘Short Fat Fannie’ – Larry Williams
  • ‘Long Tall Sally’ – Little Richard
  • ‘Money’ – Barrett Strong
  • ‘Hey! Baby’ – Bruce Channel
  • ‘Positively 4th Street’ – Bob Dylan
  • ‘Daydream’ – The Lovin’ Spoonful
  • ‘Turquoise’ – Donovan
  • ‘Slippin’ and Slidin” – Buddy Holly
  • ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’ – Gene Vincent
  • ‘No Particular Place to Go’ – Chuck Berry
  • ‘Steppin’ Out’ – Paul Revere & the Raiders
  • ‘Do You Believe in Magic’ – The Lovin’ Spoonful
  • ‘Some Other Guy’ – The Big Three
  • ‘Twist and Shout’ – The Isley Brothers
  • ‘She Said, Yeah’ – Larry Williams
  • ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’ – Buddy Holly
  • ‘Slippin’ and Slidin” – Little Richard
  • ‘Quarter to Three’ – Gary U.S. Bonds
  • ‘Ooh! My Soul’ – Little Richard
  • ‘Woman Love’ – Gene Vincent
  • ‘Shop Around’ – The Miracles
  • ‘Bring It on Home to Me’ – The Animals
  • ‘If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody’ – James Ray with the Hutch Davie Orchestra
  • ‘What’s So Good About Goodbye’ – The Miracles
  • ‘Bad Boy’ – Larry Williams
  • ‘Agent Double-O Soul’ – Edwin Starr
  • ‘I’ve Been Good to You’ – The Miracles
  • ‘Who’s Lovin’ You’ – The Miracles
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