Defining John Lennon: Was the Music Legend a Closet Conservative?

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Photo-Illustration by Alexander Ho for TIME; Getty Images

One of the personal assistants to John Lennon, the deceased Beatle, says that there may have been more to the peace advocate and rock star than meets the eye.

Fred Seaman, who worked with Lennon from 1979 until when Lennon was shot in December 1980, claims the rock star was a fan of President Ronald Reagan, one of the champions of the conservative movement.

“John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on [Democrat] Jimmy Carter,” Seaman said in a documentary, Beatles Stories.

(PHOTOS: Behind the Camera with the Beatles)

Seaman says Lennon met Reagan at a football game in the 1970s but probably didn’t remember that Reagan ordered the National Guard’s attack on students at University of California at Berkeley while he was governor of California in 1969.

Seaman said Lennon was embarrassed about his youth as a liberal. He would regularly argue with Seaman’s uncle, who was a communist. “Maybe he was being provocative… but it was pretty obvious to me he had moved away from his earlier radicalism,” Seaman said.

Others are not so sure about the conclusion. Lennon’s biographer, Jon Wiener, points out that Lennon continued to support left-wing politics, particularly workers’ rights. In the same month Lennon was assassinated at the doorstep of the building he lived in in New York City, he and his wife, Yoko Ono, made a public statement supporting Teamsters members in a California strike against the Japan Foods Corporation.

“Boycott it must be, if it is the only way to bring justice and restore the dignity of the constitution for the sake of all citizens of the US and their children,” the Lennons said.

(PHOTOS: John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed-In)

But just because he may have been a Reaganite does not neccessarily mean he was a conservative, according to Wiener. “Lots of people on the left were disillusioned with Jimmy Carter in 1980, and for good reasons,” Wiener writes. “That didn’t make you a Republican, closeted or otherwise.”

Seaman made news back in 2002 when he was sued by Yoko Ono for stealing personal photographs and letters from the Lennon family. He returned 374 pictures and paid $70,000 to recompensate for the letters sold to eager buyers.

“I offer no excuses for my conduct, and ask only that you can find it in your heart to forgive me,” Seaman said in a 2002 statement.

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