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When Helen Met John

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Helen Anderson was proud to call John Lennon a friend. Fulfilling a destiny after a lifetime spent drawing and creating, Helen enrolled in the Liverpool College of Art in 1957. On her first day, she met the future Beatle. Their first exchange occurred when Lennon recognised Helen from previous work, exclaiming, "Hey, are you that bird who painted Lonnie Donnegan?"

The King of Skiffle was a significant influence on John Lennon's musical journey. Indeed, Lennon's first band, The Quarrymen, were a skiffle act – and it was at a Quarrymen gig that Lennon met a young musician named Paul McCartney. Helen painted a portrait of Donnegan on commission when she was just 16, earning national media attention for her efforts. A close friendship was born at that moment.

John Lennon's time at the Liverpool art college would have a considerable impact on his future endeavours. Lennon met Stuart Sutcliffe, the so-called "fifth Beatle" who quit the band to pursue a career as a painter, at this institute. Helen Anderson would also play a major role in Lennon's life. The two never entered a romantic relationship but remained good friends.

Perhaps the greatest impact Helen had on John Lennon was his sense of style. To be more accurate, she rectified Lennon's lack thereof! The John Lennon of art school was a fashion disaster, which drove Helen to distraction. Thankfully, Helen helped out with this, frequently adjusting Lennon's clothing to create a superior fit.

Upon graduation, Helen moved to Rome and began a successful career as a fashion designer. She returned in 1963 – and, the following year, created Lennon's iconic leather cap – among other outfits. John Lennon's time at Liverpool Art College will live long in the memory, firmly inscribed in local history. Meeting and befriending Helen Anderson is a significant component of Lennon's story.


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When Helen Met John

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Part of the Life collection

Published on May 31, 2021

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