The full story of John Lennon’s fateful Austin Maxi-bound journey to Scotland is now online. James Walshe, the Deputy Editor of Practical Classics magazine, pieced together the family holiday in June 1969, when John, Yoko and their two children ended up crashing their car and, in the process, changed the course of musical history.
Driving an Austin Maxi, James heads from Liverpool to Durness, in the north west extremity of Scotland. It’s a 500-mile trip, which is remarkable considering John Lennon was a far-from experienced driver at the time and was unwilling to drive either his Ferrari or Rolls-Royce all that way. James retraces the Lennon family’s movements in their car and, in the process, he meets a number of people along the way – one of whom lived in the Highland village of Tongue, and was there on the day when the Lennons turned up their Maxi. The villager recalled events and provided James with a number of previously unpublished pictures.
Unsurprisingly, this feature proved to be an award winner for James and PC magazine when it was originally published. Now online, the story features some new images that weren’t used in the original magazine article – and it’s timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Lennons’ fateful holiday.
How did the Lennons’ accident change the course of musical history? Well, as the article concludes, ‘Driving an Austin Maxi into a Scottish ditch had prompted an end to many things for John Lennon. The accident gave him the perfect excuse to leave The Beatles. It marked his final visit to his beloved Scotland. Bags were packed and the most famous couple on Earth left Britain for New York City, never to return.’
On the story, James says, ‘it was a genuinely emotional experience recreating this trip. I was inspired by images of the Lennons and their car that I’d seen online, and ended making the pilgrimage myself. It was amazing meeting people who had been there on the day it happened, and unearthing images that had never been seen in public before.’