Wednesday, 4 November 2015

An Interview with Lenn Johnston  

This time we have an interview with John Lennon's 21st 
century body double.... Lennon Tribute artist Lenn Johnston.
From writing lennon style songs, to looking like him,
he really does give it his all. And as these photos will prove he is
Pretty close to the real thing!

How long have you been a lennon tribute for and how did you get 
into it?
Since 2002 I've been paying tribute to John Lennon, first as an actor and 
author, then gradually as a musician, as I studied guitar, harmonica and 
keyboard. But first I had to make myself a sandwich, you see.  Actually, this
 goes way back to childhood and subconsciousness. I've been a fan of 
Lennon and The Beatles since I was a toddler.  My brother, who was almost 
two decades older, played Beatles records at home. I immediately took to 
them as "the real deal".  
John Lennon was the one I gravitated toward, because of his wit, his look, 
and his take-charge, smart-aleck, no-nonsense attitude. I knew he was the 
right guy.  Later, in high school, people started telling me I looked like 
him.  I got a bachelor's degree in graphic design and started up careers 
in acting and voice-over, not even realizing at the time how these paths 
would focus me right back into John Lennon's character.
You have many many Lennon inspired outfits, how many do you have and 
what are your favorites?
Look at what I have to live up to!  John Lennon was not just a rock star, film 
star, visual artist and spiritual-political leader, he was also a fashion icon!  
So I get to wear great outfits.  And shouldn't we all be excited about the style 
and colors of what we wear?  Most of these costumes, about 15 or so, have been 
a combination of custom tailoring and being lucky at thrift stores. My two 
favorite looks or outfits are for 1966 and 1967.  Those seem to be the ones I can 
carry off best. Many people tell me my "Pepper" look is best. To make it truly 
authentic, I grow a real mustache, but if I have to perform in a show where there 
are costume or period changes I don't have the luxury of a time machine 
for mustache growth...yet. For this  look I have a few outfits, including a dark 
suitcoat, striped scarf, and psychedelic pants like what John wore in the Penny 
Lane film.  It's great fun getting into costumes and walking around New York. 
People go crazy!   At first, they stare and nudge each other, then think about 
approaching and talking with me. Some just say, "Hey, John!" in passing.  
It's as if most everyone wants him back. Seeing and hearing Lenn, they feel the 
past is healed and the future for John Lennon's life has materialized!

How did you get into doing your radio show?
A professional bass-player friend who DJ's on a radio station recommended 
that I start a radio show. He thought I'd be a natural because music is one of 
my passions. He was right: I really took to it, and my being a natural s
mart-alec helps it all come to life. I do it especially because John Lennon 
had wanted to do this later in his life. It's been great fun, and I've had 
the opportunity to meet and interview amazing people.  Ivor Davis, the 
Beatles exclusive tour reporter 1964-66, was phenomenal, and I had to 
do a double show, because there was so much material.  He was so kind, warm 
and giving in his manner!  In fact, I'll be doing another interview with him 
again soon.  Tony Bramwell, the Beatles road manager/CEO of Apple 
Records, provided so much amazing interview material I needed two shows.  
He was great!  Gurudas, a close friend of George Harrison and John Lennon, 
was an incredible encounter, even a spiritual one. A beautiful person. 
All these guests and others were very funny and entertaining, too!  And every 
time I interview one of these people who knew the Beatles personally, or were 
present back in the day, I feel John's spirit more.  Now, the radio show is a lot of 
work, taking all my time during the week, writing, interviewing, editing, 
choosing the best songs, and producing, but it's a very enjoyable experience.  
John Lennon not only dreamed about doing this: he wanted also to be a TV 
talk-show host!  He appeared on WNEW radio in NYC and WFIL in 
Philadelphia, and also hosted The Mike Douglas Show for a whole week. I 
am sure he would have become a great TV talk show host and radio DJ, 
had his life not been taken. But that's why I'm working to create a TV show 
for John, too!
Whats your favorite lennon song?
Oh, there are many. It's hard to break it down into one specific song. For 
his solo years, I love IMAGINE, for his early years, I love A HARD DAY'S 
NIGHT, for the middle period, I would say NOWHERE MAN, and for 
the Pepper period, STRAWBERRY FIELDS. 

How many guitars do you own? 
I own a Rickenbacker 325, an Epiphone Ej160 flattop, an Epiphone Casino, 
a couple other acoustic guitars plus a semi-hollow Epiphone electric.  And 
of course, I have a few harmonicas and keyboards! Not enough to open a music 
store mind you, but enough to keep the neighbors awake when I blast a 
Lennonesque rendition of SILENCE IS GOLDEN at 3:00am.  
Where does John lennon end and Lenn Johnston begin in day to day life? is 
there much a difference to your tribute character to yourself? 
I think at about the hip, that's where it all began. The more I discover 
about John Lennon, the more I see the similarities in our values for social 
change, world peace, a non-toxic planet, not to mention the need for great music 
and art, and to be a smart-alec. :) I write original songs in the style of John 
Lennon/Beatles, hoping to provide the world some of what John Lennon 
would be saying now. My first CD, VILLAGE IDIOM  has a few of my 
originals plus an audio version of my book of the same title. (VILLAGE IDIOM 
can be ordered through my website, .)  The stories 
resonate with Lennon's books A Spaniard 
In The Works and In His Own Write. Funny note there: like John, I've 
always twisted and mangled language to make more of it, even since 
I was a small child, annoying the adults.
Would you ever do a regular lennon vlog? 
Actually, for years I've been wanting to do this. There are so many 
projects on the boil and I never seem to find the time to vlog. One day in the 
future, once I get past the other big things on my plate: a theatrical play, radio 
show, TV show, and so on, I hope to vlog Lennon.
What was your favorite gig you ever played? 
Anytime you can get a show that runs a long time, it's very GOOD! I performed 
a show in California that ran for 3 months and got wonderful reviews 
and huge appreciation from fans!  I would like more just like this!
Apart from singing and guitar, what are other things your enjoy in 
day to day life?
I love illustrating and doing graphic design, along with video production, 
and am working on my next book as I have time. (Samples of my illustrations 
can be found on my site as well.)  I love creating an organic, heirloom garden, 
growing things that may no longer exist unless we keep Mother Earth's 
growth cycle going. I also have pets who are my kids!  
And I like to do inline skating. But all these things take second place to 
bringing John back into the world for all to see and hear.

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