Post by Joanna on Jul 13, 2014 6:25:32 GMT -5
Did John Lennon Make a Pact with the Devil?
Legend has it there are specific places in the north-west where people should go to sell their soul to the Devil. Most of these meeting places are at a crossroads, a traditional rendezvous point, but bridges also feature in the gazetteer of the damned and for many years, the bridge (pictured above) on Rose Lane, spanning the railway tracks leading to and from Mossley Hill station, has had an infamous association with Satanic soul exchanges.
In the late 1950s a Woolton businessman with the surname James lost all his life savings in a catastrophic business venture and considered blowing his brains out with a pistol in Sefton Park. He wrote a suicide note to his estranged wife before going to the park with his army service revolver. He put the gun to his head but couldn’t pull the trigger and so he left the park and aimlessly wandered the streets. He went to a public house called the Rose of Mossley, which is situated at the junction of Rose Lane and Bridge Road in the Mossley Hill district. At this pub, James overheard a curious conversation between two old men. The men were talking about a soldier who had come home after World War II to find that his wife had abandoned him. Not only that, the soldier became ill and ended up suffering from a virulent form of tuberculosis. His condition worsened and he went to “the bridge” at midnight to sell his soul to the Devil. The Devil duly appeared and in exchange for the soldier’s soul, he gave him 20 years of excellent health and great fortune. The solider was now a wealthy businessman who lived in Caldy.
Mr. James went over to the table where the two old men were sitting. “I couldn’t help overhearing your story about the soldier then,” he told them, then inquired as to the location of the bridge where the soldier sold his soul to the Devil. The old men said the story was nonsense – mere hearsay and rumor – but James was insistent and one of the men took him to the door of the Rose of Mossley and pointed. “There, that’s it,” said the old man, indicating the slight bump in the road which formed the bridge across the railway tracks.
James lingered in the pub until just before midnight, then walked to the bridge and waited for the Devil, but he did not appear. “If you can hear me, give me a sign,” the desperate man implored, “because I want to do a deal with you. Make me rich again for 20 years and you can have my soul in return.”
A little mongrel dog came trotting across the bridge and stopped a few feet from James, who decided the dog could be the Devil in disguise. “Is it you?” he asked the dog and it began barking furiously.
Then a shadow of a man’s head and shoulders slid along the bridge James turned and saw what was causing the dog to bark. It was the silhouette of a man with horns and he was well above normal height. James estimated the entity was at least 6'5" and wore a long black coat down to his knees and the toes of his shoes turned upward like those of Persian slippers. The wide staring eyes radiated pure menace. “Twenty years of wealth I will give you in return for your soul,” he bellowed. “Do you agree to these terms?”
James was trembling. He nodded as the mutt ran as fast as it could off the bridge and into the night.
“Then say you agree to them!” the Devil prompted.
“I agree to these terms,” James relied, but his voice was barely audible because his throat had closed shut in terror.
“So be it,” said the Devil, “and then I shall collect what is mine.”
The dark form then turned and vanished and an aroma reminiscent of roasted pork filled the air.
Overnight, the fortunes of Mr. James reversed. Three days after the deal was struck, he received a windfall when his premium savings bonds were chosen by Ernie, the electronic random number generator at Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire. James’s wife returned to him and after taking her out to dinner one night, they went to a bingo hall where he won £400.
He went into the scrap metal business and made so much money he sold the business a year later and ventured into real estate. James prospered in every sphere of business and rivals either envied or admired him. A businessman who planned a groundless smear campaign against James involving falsified documents died in a horrific car crash and another man who tried to set fire to a factory belonging to James accidentally burnt himself to death.
James finally confided to his best friend that his astounding success in everything was because he sold his soul to the Devil, advising his companion to do the same. Shocked and appalled, his lifelong friend abandoned him.
The story goes that in the late 1970s, James lost his wife and then one by one, his business concerns went bankrupt. His health declined rapidly and James realized his time was up. He intended to turn to Jesus because he feared the Devil would soon be calling to collect his soul. Then James suffered a heart attack and the ambulance taking him to Sefton General passed over the bridge in Mossley Hill where the diabolical deal had been struck 20 years before and a strange darkness filled the interior of the vehicle. James’s bulged in terror and he was declared dead on arrival at the hospital on Smithdown Road.
There’s also a hoary old tale of a young hopeless musician who sold his soul to the Devil on the bridge of Rose Lane. According to the story, in December 1960, John Lennon, aged 20, having heard the weird tales of the “Devil’s Bridge” became obsessed with the idea of selling his soul to Beelzebub in return for fame and fortune. It was his desire to become a bigger music idol than Elvis Presley – who had ironically been accused of being in league with the Devil and playing the fiend’s music – rock and roll.
Lennon sneaked out of his home at 251 Menlove Avenue (above), where he was living with his Aunt Mimi, and walked just over a mile through the December snow to the bridge of destiny, arriving there just before midnight. The Devil duly appeared as a tall shadowy figure with horns and the same uncanny eyes described by James. A bargain was struck. Within three years, millions upon millions of people would idolize Lennon and his band – The Beatles. They broke all sales records with their songs and their success would be unprecedented. The band was seemingly surrounded by an aura that prompted the the youth of the day to erupt into an ecstatic frenzy known as Beatlemania – a term first coined by Professor Rex Makin, a close friend of Beatles manager Brian Epstein.
Then came John Lennon’s curious digs at Christianity, Jesus and his disciples. In 1966, Lennon quipped that the Beatles were now bigger than Christ and “thick” was the word he used to describe the disciples. “Christianity will go,” he told a reporter. “It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that. I’m right and will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now.”
Around this time, a musician who was in awe of the global following enjoyed by the Beatles asked John how he could account for his stratospheric success, and the reply he received was was shocking: “I sold my soul to the Devil,” John calmly replied. But was this just one of those tongue-in-cheek remarks for which John was famous?
Personally, I believe the success of the Beatles can be explained through a number of mundane factors. They were an exceedingly skilled ensemble of musicians who had earned their apprenticeship with the grueling sessions in Hamburg and both Lennon and McCartney were truly phenomenal songwriters – as Harrison was in later years when he was given a chance to shine. Brian Epstein was an extraordinary manager who also shaped the popular image of the Fab Four and George Martin was nothing short of a genius producer – a true fifth Beatle, in fact. Then the timing was right. The 60s themselves were the other hidden ingredient which set the stage for the revolutionary music of the Beatles. Without a doubt, there was a mass change in the collective consciousness of the planet at the beginning of that momentous decade. The music of the Beatles was like nothing that had ever been heard before. Lennon once said, “Before Elvis, there was nothing,” but many Beatles fans the world over would also say that before the Beatles, there was nothing. Popular music was a wasteland and some believe the popular music scene has returned to a state of stagnancy in recent times.
Still the dark legend of Lennon’s pact with the Devil continues to make the rounds. Some who believe in the story will cite strange incidents that seem to suggest there was some sort of supernatural genesis of the Beatles. Take, for example, the cryptic onstage remark John Lennon made after the death of his best friend, artist Stuart Sutcliffe, Wednesday April 11, 1962. John told the audience in Hamburg: “Stuart Sutcliffe was a very special human being and a remarkable man. He once told me that he had the ability to see into the future and I for one now believe that Stu was telling the truth.”
What had happened to convince Lennon that Sutcliffe had the gift of precognition? There were rumors that Sutcliffe had told Lennon the Beatles would be bigger than anyone – even Elvis. Sutcliffe had, however, possibly predicted that he would never see that success himself for he tragically died at age 21 from bleeding in the right ventricle of his brain.
The legend of the Faustian pact between Lennon and the fallen angel ends with the world-famous rock stars’ being gunned down outside the Dakota Apartments on the night of December 8, 1980 – exactly 20 years after making his deal with the Devil, when the two decades of world fame and super-fortune expired.
But if John Lennon had really sold his soul to the Devil, why on earth was he a committed campaigner for world peace during his lifetime?
Additionally, it is doubtful people who end up in the nether regions of the afterlife would be able to return to earth as spirits and there have been reports of John Lennon’s ghost since shortly after his death. Most of these sightings are of Lennon in his prime, dressed in the iconic white suit many associate with the Abbey Road record cover. Many of the sightings center around Mendips, Lennon’s home on Menlove Avenue where he lived from age 5 until the age of 23 when world fame beckoned. Several of these sightings have been of John with a woman identified by some as his beloved Aunt Mimi. In 1998, a Woolton man named Frank Johnson said he was walking along Beaconsfield Road just around the corner from Mendips when his dog suddenly crouched on the ground and refused to go any farther. This was around 9.45 on a summer’s evening at the gates of Strawberry Field, immortalized in the 1967 song by Lennon and McCartney. Johnson happened to gaze beyond the red gates of the former orphanage and there was a man who was unmistakably a long-haired, clean-shaven John Lennon of about 30, wearing his trademark NHS spectacles. His suit was white and he stood there with his arms folded with a bemused look on his face. Next to Lennon was a woman who appeared to be in her 50s, or perhaps older, but she turned away and said something inaudible. Johnson was so frightened he picked up his dog – an overweight Labrador – and carried him as quickly as possible away from the poorly lit stretch of Beaconsfield Road. When he got home, he said to Linda, his wife: “I’ve just seen a ghost in Strawberry Field.” Expecting his wife to tell him it was his imagination, he was surprised when she admitted: “I’ve seen two of them a few times. Did he have a white suit on?”
Johnson was flabbergasted. He had been a Beatles fan in his youth, but his much younger wife had never really been that interested in the Beatles and had not recognized Lennon’s ghost. Linda said she had seen the ghosts walk straight through the closed gates of Strawberry Field a fortnight earlier, but had said nothing, as she had been brought up to believe that such things were harbingers of bad luck. About a month before, Linda had seen the man in the white suit reading graffiti (left by Beatles fans) on the gates of Strawberry Field and when she walked past with the dog, he vanished before her eyes. There have been many other sightings of Lennon’s ghost in various locations ranging from Gambier Terrace (where he lived in his art school days with Stuart Sutcliffe), to Old Hall Street, where his spirit was seen in the 1990s as Paul McCartney was giving a concert at the King’s Dock, to the Dakota Apartments in New York where he died.
There is another legend concerning John Lennon and Rose Lane. A strange old white-bearded vagrant roamed Calderstones Park in the 1950s and one day in 1953, three local lads – Kenny Bobby and Johnny – all aged 13, were playing cricket in the park when the vagrant spoiled their game by catching the old scuffed tennis ball after Johnny hit it for a six. The old man beckoned the boys to the nearby bridge on Rose Lane, which looked down onto a long railway track. The vagrant saw the plume of steam from an approaching locomotive in the distance and told the boys he would throw the ball down the funnel of the train as it was about to pass beneath the bridge. When the train emerged from the other side, he continued, the force of the escaping steam from the funnel would send the ball skyward and whoever caught it would one day become the most famous man in the world. The elderly tramp managed to hurl the ball into the locomotive’s funnel as it thundered below the bridge and the ball was indeed propelled by a jet of steam high into the air a split second later on the other side of the bridge. Johnny caught it, but Kenny and Bobby were skeptical that young Johnny Lennon would ever become the most famous man in the world.
According to many people who have heard the Calderstones Park tale, the old beggar wasn’t a tramp at all, but rather a “fallen” real-life wizard who had studied alchemy in old Prague and was highly knowledgeable in matters of the occult. “Bezzera” was the magician’s name and in the 1930s, he fell out with a lodge of fellow occultists, apparently after he supposedly deciphered symbols on the ancient Calder Stones, which are now housed in a special greenhouse at the park named for them. Bezzera is said to have descended into insanity after learning the awesome and powerful secret of the stones. In May 2005, a modern-day Druid claimed to have discovered 33 pages from a yellowed manuscript upon which the name “Bezzera” was scrawled.
Sources: The Lennon Prophecy: A New Examination of the Death Clues of The Beatles by Joseph Niezgoda; and Devilish Deals.
For an account of John Lennon’s ghost at The Dakota, see “The Dakota Apartments: Where the Dead Walk,” under the headings The crying lady and John Lennon Lives! – at The Dakota.