I Am/Was the Walrus

Beller-McKenna, Daniel

For most of his adult life, John Lennon fought to define himself against
his public identity as "Beatle-:John." That image, crafted by the Beatles'
manager Brian Epstein and the pop music industry became a burden to all
four of the Beatles during the group's seven years of international stardom.
In place of the rough leather-clad rock and roll band that played
rambling one hour sets in the Hamburg Kaiserkeller and the Liverpool
Cavern Club during 1960-61, Epstein forged a more commercially viable
group of four well (and uniformly) dressed young men whose stage act
was reduced to twenty minute carefully scripted sets. Over the course of
the next few years, all four of the Beatles assumed clean-cut, safe personae
in accordance with the necessities of marketing the group to a broad,
middle-class audience. Willing though he and the others were to take part
in the group's public transfonnation, Lennon later claimed to have felt
uncomfortable all along with selling out the Beatles' rock and roll roots:
"What we generated was fantastic when we played straight rock, and there
was nobody to touch us in Britain. But as soon as we made it, the edges
were knocked off. Brian Epstein put us in suits and all that, and we made it
very, very big. We sold out" (Wenner 2000:20).



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Columbia University
Published Here
November 15, 2014