The John Lennon Examiner has interviewed Irish playwright Stephen Kennedy today, September 24, 2015, about his production, “John Lennon’s Last Day.” It will be presented as a dramatic monologue on BBC Radio 2, Thursday October 8, 2015 to honor John Lennon’s 75th birthday, which would have been October 9. The show is being narrated by actor Ian Hart, and will be accompanied by recordings of John Lennon’s voice and his music. Originally a stage play presented numerous times in Dublin, the broadcast is generating great interest among fans. (Please read our previous article about the show, listed under suggested reading.)
Lennon Examiner: I think fans would like to hear more about the background of the play. Much has been written about John’s last day. What sources did you consult for the facts surrounding John Lennon’s activities that day of December 8, 1980?
Stephen Kennedy: I used many sources when I was researching this play. Actually, the research took me over a year. I read various books, newspapers and magazines; I listened to old radio interviews; I watched hours of documentaries and relevant footage online; and I asked for your help too. (You were kind enough to check some facts for me with some of your contacts. Thank you.) I would highly recommend people check out the following…
Andy Peebles interview with John Lennon on December 6th, 1980; Dave Sholin’s interview with John Lennon on December 8th, 1980; Lennon’s interview with Rolling Stone – published in January 1981; “John Lennon: The Life” by Philip Norman. I could go on and on – but I’ll stop there. It’s enough to start with.
LE: What inspired you to do this play specifically about John’s last day? I know you wrote it around 2012, right?
SK: – I wrote the play in 2011 and 2012. As I mentioned in a recent BBC blog, I wrote the play for two main reasons. Firstly, I wanted to put together an accurate account of the events that happened to John Lennon on the day of his murder. I’ve been a massive fan of The Beatles all my life – and I’ve read countless books about John, Paul, George and Ringo – but I could never find a complete account of the things that John Lennon did on his last day. I wanted to write a play to rectify that – and I think I’ve succeeded. At least I hope I have. And the other main reason I wrote this play is because I wanted to highlight the senseless tragedy of John Lennon’s murder. And I hope I’ve succeeded on that front too.
LE: Is John Lennon your “favorite Beatle”? What is it that draws you to him?
SK: – Shelley, I can’t answer that first question – mainly because I’ve a stage play called “Lennon v McCartney“, and it’s about two friends in a pub arguing about who is better – John Lennon or Paul McCartney. I don’t want to give away any secrets from that play. But I can certainly attempt to answer the second question. I think I am interested in John Lennon because of all the great songs he wrote and because of the huge impact he had on the world in general. I like the fact that (most of the time) he wasn’t afraid to say what he really thought. I think that honesty is definitely one of the things that attract people to John Lennon.
LE: The press release says there is recorded audio and John’s music as well. Can you say what songs fans will hear? Are they parts of songs or the whole song?
SK: The play on BBC Radio 2 will have both, that is, full songs and excerpts from songs. It is a mix of Beatle tracks and Lennon solo songs – and some of the choices will definitely surprise the listeners. The BBC producer James Robinson worked very closely with me on the choice of songs – and I have to say that he came up with some really great ideas. Actually, James has put an amazing amount of work into getting this whole thing together. I owe him at least a kidney and a lung… and probably a few pints of Guinness too.
“John Lennon’s Last Day” will be broadcast on BBC Radio 2 at 10pm BST (2pm PST, 5pm ET) on October 8th. Also, Stephen Kennedy’s new play, “Pete Best of The Beatles” will premiere in Ireland in February. Stephen is also Director of the Dublin Beatles Festival. It takes place from November 6th-8th.