What does your father do for a living?

As is well-known, the four Beatles came from humble origins, which is reflected in the professions of their fathers.

James McCartney (1902 – 1976) – James McCartney was known as “Jim”. His eldest son, James Paul McCartney, was known as “Paul” to avoid confusion with his father. While Jim McCartney had an avocation as a musician in a ragtime jazz band at various points in his life, he spent almost all of his working life in the cotton trade, mostly as a salesman. A previous post on this blog details the ironic twist that he met his wife, Mary Mohin, while taking refuge during a Nazi air raid of Liverpool.

Harold “Harry” Harrison (1909 – 1978) – Harry Harrison began his working life as a ship’s steward on the White Star Line, and after marrying his wife shifted to become a bus driver for the rest of his career. He drove both school buses and city buses. Paul McCartney attended the same primary school as George Harrison and in an interview related a humorous tale about the day that Harry Harrison came to the school to have a word with George’s teacher, which is available on YouTube.

Richard Starkey (1913 – 1981) – Richard Starkey worked for many years as a confectioner in a big bakery. In his later years he worked as a window washer in Bolton. Divorced from Ringo’s mother when the future Beatle was only three, he saw his son on infrequent occasions after that.

Alfred Lennon (1912 – 1976) – “Freddie” Lennon was a merchant marine and afterwards worked as a kitchen porter and dishwasher at major hotels, mostly in London. Contrary to the widespread urban legend, Freddie Lennon did not abandon John when he was young and then show up with his hand out when John was famous. Freddie was forced out of his son’s life and made many failed attempts to be a good father. The best source is Daddy Come Home: True Story of John Lennon and His Father, a 1990 book by Pauline Lennon, who is Freddie’s much younger second wife. The book was predominantly based on Freddie’s unpublished autobiography that he wanted given to John after his death so that his son would know the true story of his father’s life and the numerous attempts to be a good father. Interestingly, a February 26, 2014 article in NZ Catholic, a weekly Catholic newspaper in New Zealand, entitled “John Lennon and His Family Connections”, tells of John’s complex relationship with his father as a model of reconciliation in family relations; the article uses Pauline Lennon’s book as a main source and seems to present an adequate synopsis of her book and John’s extremely complicated relationship with his father.