I read this old question today and was surprised to learn of this:

At the end of 1968 there were reports that the Beatles might be involved with a proposed film of The Lord of the Rings. On 7 January 1969 Joy Hill wrote a memo to Rayner Unwin after a visit to Tolkien: ‘Professor Tolkien is getting more and more furious about this … because it seems that the Beatles are announcing plans in connection with the film. … He is livid that the Beatles have done this and loathes them anyway. … Particularly … he seem to have a thing against John Lennon’ (Tolkien–George Allen & Unwin archive, HarperCollins).
J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide - "Music"

Is there anywhere else where it is explained what exactly he had against John Lennon?

I am looking for an answer that would explain what separates Lennon from the rest of the Beatles, and preferably one that is not mere speculation (although perhaps that can't be avoided and is better than nothing).

  • 4
    Tolkien was deeply religious and what most people today would consider a kind of reactionary and sort of Luddite. The Beatles were not exactly compatible with that worldview.
    – Shamshiel
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 17:03
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    I'll be removing my answer in a moment, as I don't think it adds anything not already in the linked question. My suspicion (of which I have no evidence) is that some of it may have had to do with Lennon's tendency to be a bit of an attention-seeker, prone to some fairly bizarre works, and that may have offended Tolkien's sensibilities as he took LOTR quite seriously. But just think... we could have had Yoko Ono as Galadriel...
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 17:10
  • 4
    The answer is right in that accepted answer to that post, he hated a neighboring band that he conflated with Beatlemania
    – K Dog
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 17:55
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    @Shamshiel, Valorum: that doesn't really explain why he had a thing against him in particular, more than the others.
    – Wade
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 18:54
  • 7
    Does this answer your question? Why did the Beatles' proposal to make a Lord of the Rings movie fall through?
    – Villan
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 12:39

2 Answers 2


Peter Jackson has said that Paul McCartney told him that John Lennon was the driving force behind the idea.

Peter Jackson eventually brought the trilogy to the screen, starting in 2001, with the blessing of the Tolkien estate. Jackson recalls meeting Paul McCartney at the premiere and asking him about the aborted Beatles film project. Paul recalled “it was something John was driving and J R R. Tolkien still had the film rights at that stage but he didn’t like the idea of the Beatles doing it. So he killed it,”

Paul also graciously conceded “it was a good job we never made ours because then you wouldn’t have made yours and it was great to see yours”…

Stanley Kubrick's righthand man Leon Vitali also singled out Lennon when asked about the project in 2018, saying he was "crazy about" Lord of the Rings.

“That was true. That was true,” was Vitali’s emphatic response. “They came to Stanley’s office to talk about it. I don’t think it was quite in Stanley Kubrick’s ball-park that idea. Yes, it was something that they came up with.”

“But it didn’t get very, very far at all. It was just an exchange of information and people were interested in doing it. But Stanley wasn’t. Let’s put it that way.

“The person behind that was Lennon. John Lennon. He was crazy about that story and he was nuts about ‘2001.’ He said that he’d watch ‘2001’ sometimes once a week. He was so fascinated by it. I can see why he would have connected the dots.”

“I am sure there are many, many ways that you can approach a subject like ‘Lord Of The Rings.’ Lennon might have thought of it as a futuristic sort of project. Or thought that the grand scale of ‘2001’ would have been needed to make a film about ‘The Hobbit’ and that sort of genre. It is interesting.”

So I think the likeliest answer is that Tolkien had a particular dislike for John not because of any personal attributes, because he was the Beatle pushing hardest for a vision of his work that he absolutely disdained.

  • You're going in circles here. The only source that says Tolkien hated John Lennon is a memo that says he was against the movie idea (which he had never actually seen a formal proposal for or even been contacted about) purely because John Lennon and the rest of the Beatles were involved.
    – ibid
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 0:45

My guess would be that it stemmed from this much-publicized statement by John Lennon in March 1966:

"Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I'll be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first – rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."

  • 3
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. As discussed in the comments, there is probably at least some element of this in play, but the question is specifically asking for sources. Can you find any quotes to support this?
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 13:13

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