Ken Sharp, author of
Starting Over: The Making of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy, loves John Lennon. You can tell. To assemble a book of this magnitude and breadth takes a lot of time and energy and patience Ė and if you donít love the person youíre writing about, you could never get through it. Here, Sharp talks a bit about the process of writing the book.
Interviewer Steven Rosen: What attracted you to this project?
Ken Sharp: There have been so many books on John Lennon and much has been written about many of his records. However, it seems that the Double Fantasy album has been overlooked in the wake of the tragedy that took John's life. Hence I felt it was a worthy project to uncover as much information about this fertile creative period of John's last days.
How difficult was it lining up all these amazing interviews? Who was the hardest to interview?
A book like this one, an oral history, requires tracking down an extraordinary number of folks involved. I didn't look at it as difficult; more a challenge. The excitement comes from one person leading to the next. Andy Newmark, the session drummer on DF, also helped open some doors to a few of the session players who have been reluctant to speak in the past about the sessions.
What was it like talking to Yoko Ono?
I've interviewed Yoko a few times in the past prior to interviews done for the DF book. The first two times I interviewed her was at the Dakota, which was a mind-blowing experience. But truth be told, she's a gracious and accommodating interview subject and always a joy to interview.
What did you learn about Lennon's life that you didn't know before?
Too many to mention. So many stories included in the book provide fresh info about John's working methods in the studio; the session with Cheap Trick; plans for a world tour; secrecy behind the sessions. One thing I took away was the incredible sense of positivity of the time. From John and Yoko to producer Jack Douglas to the session band, there was a distinct sense of excitement that permeated the sessions.
You were dealing with an icon here - did you feel that you had to tread lightly?
Not at all. John was all about laying it out there, telling the truth, warts and all, and that's what I attempted to do as well. Frankly, because it was a period of creative rebirth and renewal, the info/stories I purloined reflected this.
What do you hope the readers of the book will come away with after reading it?
What I endeavored to accomplish was to provide a "fly on the wall" perspective, in essence taking the reader into the sessions themselves to share the excitement and discovery of those exciting times. I did this by using an oral history format and speaking to all the key folks involved with the record, augmented by archival Lennon quotes from the period. If the reader feels I was able to do that then I've done my job.
A Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter with three CDs to his credit (1301 Highland Avenue, Happy Accidents and Sonic Crayons), Ken Sharp has authored or co-authored over ten music books including Elvis: Vegas '69, Writing For The King, Overnight Sensation: The Story of the Raspberries, Reputation Is A Fragile Thing: The Story of Cheap Trick, Small Faces: Quite Naturally, Eric Carmen: Marathon Man, Power Pop!, KISS: Behind The Mask and others. He also contributes to a variety of national music magazines, works on music documentaries and has done CD liner notes for releases by Elvis Presley, Sly & The Family Stone, Janis Joplin, Santana and others.
Contributor Steven Rosen interviewed author Ken Sharp, author of Starting Over: The Making of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy (see accompanying review), about
his book for curledup.com. Steven Rosen/2011.