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Author Jay Bergen Recalls Defending a Beatle in Fascinating New Book

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Move over John Grisham here comes Jay Bergen - perhaps not a fair comparison as Jay just published his first book which is not a work of fiction but it is a page turner just like many of the bestsellers that other former attorney has written.


The first-time author gave a talk and read excerpts from his book.

On May 01, 2022 Jay released Lennon, the Mobster & the Lawyer - The Untold Story. Jay a NYC barrister was involved in a case to prove that the release of a record called Roots (1975) negatively impacted the Beatles' John Lennon artistically and financially. The book is based on Bergen's archive of bankers boxes filled with albums, documents and transcripts from the 1976 hearing. When rereading John's trial testimony some years back, Jay realized he had an inside view into John's life that Beatles' fans would appreciate. Bergen's manuscript is filled with deep insights, entertaining stories and a musical court drama.

For those who may not know about this case - the back story is - John got involved with the mob-connected Morris Levy when Levy, who owned the Chuck Berry song catalog sued Lennon in 1970 for copyright infringement based on a lyric similarity between Berry's "You Can't Catch Me" and the Beatles' "Come Together".

As part of the settlement, Lennon agreed to record three songs owned by Levy. As told in the book things got convoluted as Phil Spector who was working with Lennon on what would become the Rock 'n' Roll album took the tapes. So in the meantime, John finished up Wall and Bridges before the covers record. Levy was not pleased. He pressured John into giving him demo tapes and Morris took their conversations about TV promotion as a verbal agreement that Levy would put out and promote the album even though Morris knew that EMI owned all of John's rights.


Jay Bergen had a nice turnout for his book signing in Nashville.

Levy distributed the demos as Roots, in response Capital Records quickly issued Rock 'n' Roll and that resulted in Levy filing two lawsuits against Lennon followed by counterclaims by John with his label to recoup artistic and monetary damages from the unauthorized and unfinished Roots.

In his book, Bergen sketches out his defense of John - recounting strategy sessions that included inside jokes. A large part of the case revolved around Lennon explaining his recording process in detail plus insights on how the Beatles were one of the first bands to take control of their album covers. Jay even used some of them as evidence to prove that John would not have approved the "cheesy" Roots "artwork".

A sizable portion of the book is John's testimony and that is a big draw for fans or even people who want to know how records were made in the mid-1970's and yet Lennon, the Mobster & the Lawyer - The Untold Story is also an intriguing memoir for those interested in how a legal trial is organized.

We had the pleasure of attending a book signing/discussion by Jay Bergen at Vanderbilt Bookstore at 2501 West End Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee on May 19th, 2022. Jay outlined the contents of his book in a compelling chat - that included some of John's testimony. Jay also shared a number of personal anecdotes demonstrating that the lawyer and the musician had become friends during the trial.


Jay Bergen and Lennon, the Mobster & the Lawyer - The Untold Story.

Jay described John as a New Yorker and a Father. Bergen said that he wrote the book in hopes of showing a different side of John plus he wanted to set the record straight about that period of time and who better than a person who documented it.

Jay was in practice for over 45 years. Mr. Bergen represented the New York Yankees, rock managers Terry Knight (Grand Funk Railroad) and Albert Grossman (Bob Dylan) but his most memorable case and client was John. Lennon, the Mobster & the Lawyer - The Untold Story shares that story from a legal and musical perspective in a readable narrative that will keep you turning the page.


Author Jay Bergen was all smiles as he told his story at the Vanderbilt Bookstore in May.

Related Links: For more information on JAY BERGEN and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Jay Bergen | Vanderbilt Bookstore


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