Before he wore Beatle boots, John Lennon wore "winkle pickers" -- pointed-toe cowboy boots, said his half-sister, Julia Baird.
Growing up, John was known as "Stinker Winker," Julia said. "That's what my mother called him. Just an affectionate name. "He was a rowdy boy. Very lovable, very noisy, bouncy. You knew he was there."
Julia and Jerry Goldman, director of The Beatles Story museum in Liverpool, were in the Bluff City last weekend as part of a group from there studying Memphis. They had dinner Friday night with Julie and Jerry Klein, friends they met in New York and visited with in Liverpool when Jerry Klein was chairman of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"What made John John? He was a genius," Julia said. "An extremely talented fellow. I'm sure there's lots of geniuses who never get out of bed. They've got the potential, but they never use it. But he was on the edge as well."
Julia didn't think of John as a "sex symbol."
"Girls all went for Paul. There's no two ways about it. Between the two of them there was supurb partnership. John wouldn't have made it without Paul because John was the wild card. Had the ideas. Paul was the one that kept John in line," she said.
"For example, when they came back from Hamburg, Brian Epstein wanted them in suits and they were in their leathers with the hair and sex, drugs and rock and roll. And Brian, as a businessman, saw that they had to tidy up for the times. They had to have a certain amount of decorum if they were going to be invited to make a recording, to go on the radio, to go on television, particularly. Paul put the pressure on John. John didn't want to go with the suits."
John, like other members of her family, was a big Elvis fan. "My mother was nuts about him from the start. We called the cat Elvis. Black and white and it had six kittens."
As to why they were in Memphis, Jerry said, "We're trying to understand how to market Liverpool because Liverpool is going to be the European Capital of Culture in 2008.
"There are so many similiarities it's uncanny. You know where the link between Memphis and Liverpool started? Cotton. The cotton that was picked in the fields of Memphis every day, the price of that cotton was fixed in the cotton exchange in Liverpool. And all the cotton of Memphis was imported to Liverpool to go to the cotton mills of Lancashire. The two towns couldn't have survived without each other."
And, he said, "We're the only two towns in the world that have a pop music icon. There's only two. There's the Beatles. And there's Elvis."