JERALYN MERRITT REMEMBERS JOHN LENNON: Lots of people wonder what he’d be doing now. I’m skeptical that he’d be a Republican today if he had lived, but who knows? He went through a lot of changes in a short period.

Back in the 1980s, researching a novel that nobody has read, I watched some old British TV of the Beatles (Ready, Steady, Go! and so forth) and what struck me was how burly and tough the early (1965-66) John Lennon looked, compared to the one I remembered. I had heard stories of him breaking people’s ribs, and they didn’t seem very credible in light of my memories of the fragile and emaciated Yoko-era John. But looking at the earlier Lennon, well, yeah.

So who knows? But I think it’s a mistake to make Lennon into anything today — even a poster boy for handgun control — instead of remembering him as he was. He never got the chance to develop into whatever he would have been, and that’s the tragedy of his death, of course.

UPDATE: Some memories from Gerard van der Leun: “We’d finished filming John and Yoko for the video a day or so before. It was their last video, but of course we didn’t know it at the time.”