Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Beatle People: Fred Seaman

Frederic ("Fred") Seaman, (born October 10, 1952) is the former personal assistant to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, during the former Beatle's final years, when Lennon and Ono lived in The Dakota Apartments in New York City.

Life with the Lennons

Seaman first met the Lennons in October 1975 at the Russian Tea Room and was introduced through his aunt, Helen Seaman. In need of a job, he renewed his acquaintance with them in 1978. Lennon was in need of a personal assistant at the time, and there were several factors in Seaman's favor which helped him land the job. First, Seaman was primarily a jazz fan and knew little about Lennon's career in The Beatles. Ono is said to have performed a numerology reading on Seaman and found him to be promising in that respect (he was born in the Chinese Year of the Dragon, and his birthday fell one day after Lennon's). Lennon was struck by the way the name "Fred Seaman" related so directly to Lennon's own father, Freddy, who was a life-long sailor in the merchant marines; literally a "sea man." During the approximately 24 months that he worked at the Dakota, Seaman was publicly credited by Lennon for introducing him to the music of The B-52's, a band whose offerings Lennon felt certain had been inspired by Yoko Ono's music. Seaman was mentioned by name in Lennon's last interviews for BBC Radio and RKO Radio and was given a credit in the liner notes to Double Fantasy.

Legal problems

After Lennon's murder on December 8, 1980, Seaman, by his own admission, took several items from the Dakota apartments, including stereo equipment and John Lennon's personal diaries. After his arrest, Seaman insisted that Lennon had specifically instructed him to give the diaries - handwritten and assumed to be intensely private - to his eldest son Julian in the event of his death. In 1983, Seaman was convicted of stealing the diaries, which had by then been returned to Yoko Ono, and sentenced to five years' probation.

In 2002, Seaman also lost a long and contentious court battle against Yoko Ono for copyright control of more than 300 photos he took with a camera the Lennons owned during his employ.


Seaman is author of The Last Days of John Lennon: A Personal Memoir, a book detailing his time as Lennon's private aide (initially published in September 1991 by Birch Lane Press). A British edition retitled John Lennon, Living on Borrowed Time: A Personal Memoir was published in spring 1993, and editions soon followed in German, French, Czech, and Japanese translations. The book is considered controversial by many Lennon fans and observers due to its portrayal of Lennon and Ono's marriage, and for the glimpses he offered into the secluded and often unhappy life Lennon lived inside the Dakota apartments. A review in the June 1991 edition of Library Journal states: "Seaman reveals the day-to-day minutiae of the Lennon lifestyle, and what emerges is a sad portrait of a tormented man. Recommended." In publishing his story, however, Seaman failed to abide by the terms of the non-disclosure agreement he signed when commencing his time in the Lennons' employ. The book is now out-of-print.


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