John and the Fateful Number Nine

By Bill Harry  

Throughout his life John Lennon was obsessed with the number nine. It was present at his birth, prevalent throughout his life and omnipresent at his death.

John was born at 6.30am on Wednesday October 9 and, although officially announced dead at 11.15pm in New York on December 8, due to the time difference, it was actually December 9 in Liverpool, the place of his birth. The time of his birth, 6.30 also adds up to nine, as to the letters of Wednesday, the day of his birth.

Several of his songs reflected his interest in his favourite number: 'No. 9 Dream', 'Revolution No. 9' and 'One After 909,' the latter being written at 9 Newcastle Road, Liverpool, his grandfather's house where he was reared in his early years (Newcastle has nine letters, as does Liverpool).

As John was to say, "I lived in 9 Newcastle Road, I was born on the 9th October. it's just a number that follows me around, but, numerologically, apparently I am number six or three or something, but it's all part of nine."

Numerous events in his life took place on the 9th:

  • The Beatles played at the Cavern Club for the first time on February 9
  • Brian Epstein saw the Beatles for the first time on November 9
  • The Beatles played in the south of England for the first time on December 9
  • The Beatles EMI contract was confirmed on May 9
  • The Beatles made their Ed Sullivan Show debut on February 9
  • John appeared solo on Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's 'Not Only...But Also' TV show on January 9
  • John first met Yoko Ono on November 9
  • John and Yoko's son Sean was born on October 9

Combinations of numbers that also added to 9 also intrigued him. He traveled on the No. 72 bus to the art college. John and Yoko had an apartment on West 72nd Street and their original Dakota Buildings apartment was No 72. Other combinations that formed the number 9 and which added to his obsession were 18, 27 and 126.

'No. 9 Dream' was a number John recorded in August 1974 for his 'Walls and Bridges' album. It was written at the time of John's 'lost weekend', a period of several months separation from Yoko in which he lived with their former secretary May Pang. Some sources claim that May Pang was the song's inspiration, and May can be heard singing John's name in the chorus, yet other sources claim that it was a message to Yoko during their separation and was composed on the 9th day of the month in which he wrote it.

Incidentally, the cover of the 'Walls and Bridges' album features a painting John did when he was only eleven, which features a footballer with a large No.9 on his back.

When John was shot he was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital - on 9th Avenue (Roosevelt also has nine letters, as does Manhattan, the district in New York where he lived and died).

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