Jimmy Reid born in Govan
Jimmy Reid is born on 9 July 1932 in Govan to parents Leo and Isabella Reid. Jimmy was the youngest of seven children. Three of his sisters died in infancy leading to his scathing accusation that their cause of death should be "killed by capitalism". It was a formative family heartbreak which had propelled Reid to life as a political activist i...
Yoko Ono born
Yoko Ono was born in Tokyo, Japan, on 18 February 1933 to Isoko and Eisuke Ono. Her father, Eisuke – a former classical pianist – was a wealthy banker. Both parents came from wealthy Japanese families. Read the full blog: The Beatle, The Bankie & The Bouquet . The full story behind John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s d...
Tariq Ali born in Lahore
Tariq Ali was born and raised in Lahore, Punjab in British India (now part of Pakistan). He is the son of journalist Mazhar Ali Khan and activist mother Tahira Mazhar Ali Khan. Ali's mother was the daughter of Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan, who led the Unionist Muslim League and was later Prime Minister of the Punjab from 1937 to 1942. Ali's ...
John Lennon born in Liverpool
John Winston Lennon was born in Liverpool on the 9 October 1940. Lennon was born at Liverpool Maternity Hospital to Julia (née Stanley) (1914–1958) and Alfred Lennon (1912–1976). Alfred was a merchant seaman of Irish descent who was away at the time of his son's birth. His parents named him John Winston Lennon after his pate...
Reid joins Communist Party
Jimmy Reid joins the Communist Party aged 15. Biographers said it was the library rather than the classroom that shaped Govan-born Jimmy and his political activism. Read the full blog: The Beatle, The Bankie & The Bouquet . The full story behind John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s donation to Clyde shipbuilders of the UCS in 1971 a...
Reid moves to London as young communist leader
Jimmy Reid becomes National Chair of Young Communist League (YCL) and moves to London to take up the full-time party post. On the 9 August 1958 – while still living in London – Jimmy marries Joan Swankie at Old Kilpatrick Register Office selling golf clubs to pay for the bar tab…which still ran out, causing an argument between the...
John rattles royal conventions with jewellery joke
On November 4, 1963 the Beatles perform at the Royal Variety Performance in London attended by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. Prior to ripping into a rousing rendition of their closing number, Lennon said, “For our last number I’d like to ask your help. Poking fun at the royal guests in the Prince of Wales ...
Jimmy Reid settles in Faifley
In 1964 Jimmy Reid, who had been working in London decides to move back to Scotland and, despite being born and hailing from Govan, settles in the Faifley district of Clydebank with his wife Joan and young family. His father Leo had died in 1962. By 1965, following his return to Clydebank, Jimmy is elected to the full time post of Scott...
Beatles reject racial segregation
The Beatles were booked to play at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida in 1964. But when they found out the crowd would be racially segregated the band threatened to cancel the gig. The promoters backed down. The policy was in defiance of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson t...
Tariq Ali elected President of the Oxford Union
Tariq Ali is elected President of the Oxford Union in 1965. Ali's tenure at the Union included a meeting with Malcolm X in December 1964 during which Malcolm X expressed deep consternation about his own risk of assassination. In 1967 Ali was one of 64 prominent figures, including the Beatles, who signed a petition calling for the legali...
Establishment recognition with MBE
Due to their phenomenal international success in June 1965 it is announced that the Beatles would be each be made an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). In a break from tradition, it was the first time that such an award was bestowed upon mere "pop stars" and working class ones at that. Previously the only ...
Vietnam Solidarity Campaign established
The English philosopher, Bertrand Russell was an early campaigner on Vietnam, tearing up his Labour Party membership card in disgust at the failure of Labour to take an independent stand on Vietnam. Russell, a prominent aristocrat and polymath, had spent time in jail during the First World War for his pacifism. An anti-imperialist and n...
John’s ‘Jesus’ grenade explodes
A casual comment in a newspaper interview was to cause a huge controversy for John and his bandmates, when he claimed the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. It was so typical of Lennon to be analysing the status of the band in philosophical terms of wider culture. But his remark in an interview with journalist Maureen Cleave for the London...
Lennon first ponders life beyond the Beatles
John admits he first contemplated life beyond The Beatles while on set without his bandmates in 1966 on film location. "Of course, I was a Beatle, but things had begun to change. In 1966, just before we met, I went to Almeria, Spain, to make the movie 'How I Won the War.' "It did me a lot of good to get away. I was there six weeks. I w...
John meets Yoko
John Lennon meets Yoko Ono at an exhibition in London. Unfinished Paintings and Objects was hosted by the Indica gallery and bookshop in Mayfair in November 1966. The Japanese avant-garde artist was a seminal influence on John and fired his interest and adoption of radical politics. As the romance grew, the couple became inseparable. h...
Lennon calling Planet Earth live! Are you receiving?
Planet Earth, this is John Lennon, can you hear me? This is the next Beatles single and my first international anthem. "I'm a revolutionary artist. My art is dedicated to change." John Lennon June 1967 For the first time in human history people all over the planet Earth are watching the same television programme; aptly entertained wi...
Black Dwarf first published
Black Drawf established and edited by Tariq Ali. Black Dwarf took its name from the 19th-century radical paper of that name which was first published in 1817. John Hoyland and the musician John Lennon had an exchange of letters in the newspaper regarding Lennon's supposed bourgeois values. Hoyland in "An Open Letter to John Lennon...
Queen visits Clydebank for ship launch
The Queen visited Clydebank to launch the latest new ship at John Brown’s Yard. It was a huge event for the town. As a kid we had watched this monster of a vessel grow and dominate the skyline. I recall watching it from the rooftop of a the high flats in Radnor Park where I lived. [caption id="attachment_4025" align="aligncenter" width="1...
Beatles manager Brian Epstein dies
Epstein’s sudden death from a drug overdose aged just 32 was one of the major events leading to the breakup of the band without his guiding influence. Though they were to continue to make ground-breaking music and increase their influence, left to their own personal devices, the band drifted apart. In parallel with Yoko’s growing rad...
1968 sees mass movements and protests
As the decade comes to a close, the peace and love of the Swinging Sixties gives way to a year of violent and bloody protest across the globe. Mass protest, civil disobedience raged throughout 1968 as a year of huge social unrest. A huge backlash against state repression began with the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia. The US suffered ...
Tet offensive turns public opinion
At 3:00 a.m., January 31, 1968, 70,000 North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong guerrillas launched surprise attacks throughout Vietnam. On this holiday morning known as Tet, more than 100 cities and outposts were attacked. In Saigon, a suicide squad penetrated and briefly held U.S. embassy grounds. Fighting was fierce. Throughout Vietnam, se...
UCS established in shipbuilding shake up
With many shipyards on the Clyde going to the wall, nearly 30 in 1950 to under 10 in 1968 and a huge loss in market share from intense international competition, Minister of Technology, Tony Benn, implements a proposal to reorganise yards. The amalgamation of five shipyards leads to the formation of a new company – Upper Clyde Shipbuil...
Tariq Ali leads Vietnam War protests
Mounted police clash with anti-Vietnam war demonstrators outside the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London on 17 March 1968. The Vietnam Solidarity Campaign (VSC) organised a major demonstration in London which drew more than 100,000 ant-war participants. Serious police violence was captured by press and television cameras d...
Beatles record Revolution
Beatles record John Lennon composition, Revolution. Recorded between 9–13 July 1968 and released 26 August 1968. The song, its lyrics and political message was to become the focus of the left's conversation with John's credibility and direction as he shed his teeny-bop image. Read the full blog: The Beatle, The Bankie...
John's costly drug bust
John Lennon and Yoko Ono leave Marylebone Magistrates’ Court after their hearing on drug possession charges, 19 October 1968. The case was to dog Lennon for a number of years, preventing him from gaining residency in the USA and partly ending his political activism. Senior police involved in the costly drugs were later jailed f...
John and Yoko tie the knot
John and Yoko are married at the registry office in Gibraltar and spent their honeymoon in Amsterdam, campaigning with a week-long Bed-In for Peace.
John buys Georgian mansion at Tittenhurst
John and Yoko buy the Tittenhurst estate in Berkshire. The couple paid £145,000 for the Georgian mansion and 72-acre grounds which had belonged to test pilot and business tycoon Peter Cadbury. Though the couple only stay there for two years, much of our story takes place at Tittenhurst and it features large in Beatles folklore. [capti...
Anti-War Movement adopts Lennon hit
Give Peace a Chance was released and became an anthem of the anti-war movement reaching the top 14 in US and 2 in UK. The Master (Take 4) of Give Peace A Chance was recorded in Room 1742, The Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Montreal, Quebec, in the very early hours of 1 June 1969. Read the full blog: The Beatle, The Bankie & The Bouqu...
Tittenhurst hosts last Beatles photoshoot
John's recent new home at Tittenhurst is the setting to host the last images of the Beatles together as a band. Any pictures of the band after this were strictly business related and didn't feature all four members. The photoshoot was held on 22 August 1969 – two days after their recording session together for the Hey Jude album. The...
Lennon returns his MBE
John makes the anti-establishment war formal by returning his MBE. He returns to his Aunt Mimi's house in Bournemouth to collect the 1965 award. In typical Lennon-infused grandstanding he combines the political with the humorous. His main aim is to undermine the combined political and royal establishment by opposing British actions in the Nig...
Red Mole publication established
In March 1970, The Black Dwarf's editorial board split over differences of Leninism. A second newspaper was established, Red Mole, which Tariq Ali edited alongside an editorial board with an IMG (International Marxist Group) majority. Red Mole was a "revolutionary internationalist" paper that carried a broad range of left-wing opinion. J...
McCartney publicly breaks up the Beatles
Ahead of his debut solo album McCartney, Paul decided not to promote the album with media interviews as was the norm. Instead, he asked Apple’s Peter Brown to compile questions which he supplied the answers. They included his relationship with John, who had privately left the band in September 1969. (Lennon requested a "divorce" from the Be...
Beatles' final album, Let it be, released
Let It Be released, The Beatles' final album, is released on 8 May 1970 The Beatles’ last album to be released, Let It Be was mostly recorded in early 1969, prior to Abbey Road. The music was produced by George Martin, and was then prepared for release in 1970 by Phil Spector. Following the often fractious sessions for the White Albu...
Reid stands in election as Tories return to power
Already a Clydebank local councillor covering Faifley, Jimmy Reid stands as a Communist candidate for East Dunbartonshire constituency in the General Election held on 18 June 1970. The election was won by the Conservatives and Edward Heath became Prime Minister. The Conservative election victory was to mean major changes in industrial p...
Lennon's first solo album starkly personal and political
Such was the reputation, appeal and longevity of The Beatles; it took a long time for people to appreciate that the band had actually split up. That intensified the focus on John’s debut solo album, entitled John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Recording began on 29 September 1970 at Abbey Road studios. [caption id="attachment_4252" ali...
John reveals new solo direction in Rolling Stone interview
Following the release of Plastic Ono Band, John and Yoko conducted a mega interview which was featured in Rolling Stone magazine on 8 December 1970. This is the famous interview in which Lennon utters the famous words "I can make a guitar speak," makes fun of Mick Jagger for "wiggling his ass," calls Paul's music "rubbish," and declares...
Lennon interviewed by Red Mole
On 21 January 1971, John invites Red Mole editors, Tariq Ali and Robin Blackburn, for a lengthy interview at Tittenhurst Park. It was through Red Mole that Lennon was to become acquainted with the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in. The newspaper had regular coverage and analysis on the work-in. In his day-long interview for the newspaper John e...
John pens a 'marching song for the movement'
Exhilarated and inspired by the nature of the discussion and interview the previous day with Red Mole, John goes into his studio at home in Ascot and writes his latest political hit, Power to the People on Friday 22 January. According to John, “I wrote ‘Power to the People' the same way I wrote ‘Give Peace a Chance,’ as something for th...
UCS is forced to enter liquidation
On the evening of Friday June 11 the axe falls on Clydeside. The board of UCS told the government that the firm was technically insolvent. Without an extra £6m the company will fold. Heath’s government and the Industry Department was unresponsive causing a crisis among an estimated 2000 creditors. UCS is forced to enter liquidation ...
200 shop steward agree to propose work-in
The day after the devastating news that liquidation was the only option for UCS, on Saturday 12 June 1971, senior shop stewards met to discuss the workers' response. 200 senior shop stewards, including Jimmy Reid and Jimmy Airlie (pictured, left to right at front), endorsed the proposal of a work-in, taking control and continuing production wit...
Hundreds lobby for the 'right to work'
On Monday 14 June a mass meeting of all workers takes place in Clydebank Town Hall while leading stewards fly to London to attend a Commons debate on the crisis. Meanwhile in London, Industry Secretary, John Davies appoints a provisional liquidator and sets up an expert committee with a remit to report by the end of July. The following day, Tu...
John begins recording Imagine
On Wednesday 23 June John begins recording tracks for his new album Imagine. On the first morning he plays his new song to the other musicians which will turn out to be the title track of the album. Then, using an eight-track machine which the Lennon's affectionately call ASS (Ascot Sound Studios), the recording sessions produce the following s...
Red Mole cover catches John's attention as he completes Imagine
On the first of the month, the July edition of Red Mole is published with a cover dedicated to the developing Upper Clyde Shipbuilders dispute which had become a national news headlines in the UK. It was this edition which was to capture the attention of John Lennon. Writing in his memoirs Tariq Ali – at this point regularly speaking...
Lennon donation fuels international support
John and Yoko's donation to the UCS fighting fund on 9 August 1971 helps propel the Clydeside struggle to a sympathetic international audience. Money and solidarity pours in to the UCS to sustain the occupation and pay wages to the courageous workforce. (Top image of Dedication Card: ©Glasgow Caledonian University Archives: Papers of Jimmy Clo...
Prime Minister Heath in choppy waters
Far away from the still, murky waters of the Clyde, Prime Minister, Ted Heath, is in choppy waters of a different kind leading Britain’s Admiral Cup team to victory aboard his 42-foot yacht, Morning Cloud. Heath is at the helm in the punishing 600-mile, five-day race from Cowes on the Isle of Wight to Fastnet Rock off southern Ireland returni...
UCS captivates Lennon despite hectic schedule
Despite chaotic professional and family life, the UCS occupation mesmerises Lennon. While working intently to complete Imagine, four transatlantic trips in a month, the torturous and never-ending search for Yoko’s missing daughter, the fall out with Paul, the Beatles business dealings, promotion of the new album, filming for the Imagi...
Two-yard proposal and Occupation at stalemate as Davies steps in
UCS stewards outflank government by sidelining the Govan proposal at meeting organised by Sir John Eden. This and huge public support undermines the government position. By the end of the August, Industry Secretary, John Davies, takes personal control of negotiations. It was Davies most associated with the ‘lame ducks” phrase having...
Morale dips but Reid's rhetoric holds nerve
On 17 September a bonus for the workers when Ken Douglas, Managing Director of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, reveals record productivity and improved industrial relations in a widely reported newspaper interview. The Government, meanwhile, appoints a management board to two-yard proposal to isolate Clydebank and divide the workers unity. The ...
Lennon settles in New York and composes new peace anthem
Having flown to New York at the end of August 1971, lawyers representing Yoko suggest to her that to secure her custody rights for her daughter, Kyoko, she and John must take up permanent residence in the States. Although he didn’t know it at the time, John would never again return to his native country. John explains: “Yoko and I w...
John advertises Peace as a Product
Happy Xmas/War is Over released on 1 December 1971 and the advertising campaign starts two weeks later in the run up to Christmas. John’s anti-war, anti-violence and peace campaigning has been a regular strand of his political activism since the bed-in on honeymoon in Amsterdam and the release of Give Peace a Chance, both back in 1969...
Beatles duo outraged by Bloody Sunday
The cold-blooded killing of 13 Catholics after a civil rights march in Derry in Northern Ireland by British paratroopers causes outrage. Both John Lennon and even the less politically inclined Paul McCartney compose songs about the murders in February 1972. John had been a sustained critic of British involvement in Ireland. Indeed, both he and ...
BBC bans McCartney’s Bloody Sunday single
'I wasn't really into protest songs – John had done that – but this time I felt that I had to write something, to use my art to protest.' Paul McCartney says the British army killings are so shocking, he had to react with a song about Bloody Sunday in February 1972. Being a lifelong Beatles’ fan, I can’t resist the opportunity to bring ...
Nixon urged to deport Lennon
A secret memo addressed to the US Attorney General, John Mitchell, from Senator Strom Thurmond, suggests that John Lennon should be deported from the United States as an undesirable alien, due to Lennon's political views and activism. The document sent on 4 February 1972 claims Lennon's influence on young people could affect Nixon's cha...
Breakthrough as government caves in with £35 million extra funding offer
The government, stung by the level of support for the UCS workers and with a wider eye on their getting their Industrial Relations Bill through parliament, had long realised the need to end the dispute having failed to split the workers with their two-yard solution. They had already privately acknowledged the need to end the fight regard...
Old drug bust starts deportation as Lennon plans radical US tour
On Tuesday February 29 1972 John and Yoko’s original US visa expires. They are immediately granted a 15-day extension. But this sees the beginning of a three-and-a-half-year struggle by John to reside in America. The government’s opposition to his request is apparently based on his 1968 UK drug conviction by Sgt Pilcher. By the end o...
Reid’s rousing Rat Race speech as new Rector of Glasgow University
With the earlier stalemate between the Clydeside yard workers and government, Reid uses time and his new-found public profile to stand for election as Rector of Glasgow University. His popular campaign means he becomes the youngest Rector to hold the office since its establishment in 1648. It allows the newly elected the opportunity...
UCS work-in ends in victory
Having reached agreement with US oil rig company Marathon two days earlier, on 9 August 1972, the unions agree to the terms of the Govan proposal and the occupation ends in success. One week later, Govan Shipbuilders became a reality. Sixteen months after the "work-in" campaign started, on the 9th October 1972, the terms of the sett...
Ringo buys Tittenhurst
As the work-in came to a successful conclusion, things were changing fundamentally on John’s journey too. Deciding to stay permanently in the USA and fight for residency and a coveted green card, John and Yoko put the once, forever home up for sale instructing estate agents to put it back on the market. In a twist on Tuesday 18 Septem...
Bent cop chief Pilcher is jailed for corruption
As Lennon battles deportation, the main who arrested him for drug possession was himself in the dock. Sgt. Pilcher – in charge of the drug squad at Scotland Yard in London – is jailed for six years on corruption charges. John has long claimed that Pilcher was responsible for planting the illegal substances in his flat when he was bus...
Reid resigns from the Communist Party
On 9 Feb 1976 Jimmy Reid leaves the Communist Party. After "sleepness nights" he shocks party leaders who had once nurtured him as a future leader and sends a resignation letter. Having joined aged 16, Jimmy has been a member for 25 years of his life and met his wife Joan through the party. Return to The Beatle, The Bankie & The Bouquet bl...
Lennon finally gets his green card
And in a triple triumph as Lennon celebrates his 35th birthday and the arrival of his new son, Sean, he finally receives his green card. Return to The Beatle, The Bankie & The Bouquet blog. This blog is strictly non-commercial. All material is the property of the photographer/artist/copyright holder concerned. Any copyright owner...
Jimmy joins Labour Party
In October 1977 Jimmy joins the Labour Party. It is a huge political move in which he is vilified as a traitor on both sides. From the Communist Party whom he abandoned his lifelong membership following his UCS fame and from the Labour Party which he had excoriated following election defeat in the 1974 elections. Members of both parties ...
Lennon murdered in New York
This remains one of the saddest moments in modern history. John Lennon is fatally gunned down outside his New York home. Having brought up his son Sean at home, while Yoko went to work, John had recently returned to the studio with material for a new album. It was the first time in six years that the ex-Beatle had written worked on an ...
Death of UCS leader Jimmy Airlie
In March 1997, Reid’s long-time comrade in the Communist Party, in the trade union movement and, most importantly, as his double act in the UCS occupation, Jimmy Airlie dies following a six-month battle with cancer, aged 60. Airlie’s unfortunate passing did not make for any happy ending. The pair were rumoured to have fallen after Reid’s ...
Death of Jimmy Reid aged 78
On August 2010 Jimmy Reid is taken to hospital from his home on the Isle of Bute. Across the very river, the River Clyde, on which he made a living, and led a nation and the working class to an momentous victory. In Greenock, aged 78, Jimmy dies from a brain haemorrhage. Despite leaving the Communist Party for the Labour Party and t...
July 2021 Tariq Ali is 77 years old and lives in London with his wife. The activist, historian, filmmaker and novelist has written numerous books subsequent to the his memoirs Street Fighting Years. He is a member of the editorial board of the New Left Review and, as an intellectual commentator contributes article to newsapers and magazines. ...