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John Lennon’s ‘bad boy’ behavior: School detention records up for sale

John Lennon and Paul McCartney sing together in Abbey Road Studios in London in February 11, 1968. John Lennon and Paul McCartney sing at Abbey Road Studios in London in 1968. (AP / Image from Ullstein Archive)

(Clarification: An earlier version suggested that John Lennon wrote the song “Bad Boy.” Larry Williams did and the Beatles covered it with Lennon taking the lead vocal.)

I’ll use any excuse to write about John Lennon, but here’s a really good one:  Twice, John Lennon earned three detentions in the same day when he was a young student at  Quarry Bank High School for Boys in Liverpool, according to school detention records being auctioned.

According to this story in the Independent (which is titled: “Imagine what a handful John Lennon must have been in the classroom: Beatle’s detention records for sale”), Lennon was referred to in the documents as a “class clown,” and was punished by teachers for behavior that included “sabotage,” “fighting in class,” “nuisance.” “shoving” and  “just no interest whatsoever.”

The paper quotes Peter Beech, Lennon’s general science teacher at the time, as saying:

The sheet is typical of John Lennon. He was an extremely cheeky boy. He did, however, know his limits. In the classroom, if you settled John down, you generally settled the class down.

The detention sheets are from May 19- June 23, 1955 and Nov. 25, 1955 to Feb. 13, 1956, and are being auctioned by They were part of a book that was to be burned in the 1970s but saved when someone noticed Lennon’s records.

All of this, perhaps, helps explain why Lennon chose to sing “Bad Boy,”  written by Larry Williams, which,  includes these lyrics:

A bad little kid

moved into my neighborhood

He won’t do nothing right

just a sitting got to look so good

He don’t wanna go to school

and learn to read and write

Just sits around the house and plays

that rock and roll music all night

Well he put thumb tacks on teacher’s chair

put chewing gum in little girl’s hair

Now Junior behave yourself

RELATED:  In My Life: Iconic images of The Beatles










Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.



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Valerie Strauss · November 11, 2013

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