Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Johnny Jones' homage to The Beatles is his interior decorating

Is there such a thing as liking too much? Not to Johnny Jones. He loves The Beatles. Love them as in can't get enough of them. So much so his whole house is a shrine to them.

Johnny Jones' house is quiet and plain from the outside. The only movement on this spring day comes from leaves skittering on the long and winding road that leads to the Tudor-style home. But inside, the place is vibrating. On this day, as with most, it’s from a track by The Beatles.

Jones is an extreme Beatles fan. He’s not alone, but few have gone to the length he has. Using paint, furnishings, murals and memorabilia, he's turned his Lakewood home in Washington into a temple devoted to classic rock and pop culture, and The Beatles.

Jones became a fan at age three when he heard A Hard Day’s Night. Now 51, he’s still just as obsessed. He’s been to Liverpool, England – the birthplace of The Beatles – three times. “Some people go to Jerusalem, I go there,” he says.

He doesn’t dress like The Beatles, he's quick to point out. But he’d be forgiven if he did – Jones plays keyboard and guitar in a Beatles tribute band, Apple Jam. The name is a nod to The Beatles’ recording label. Apple Jam performs songs that were composed but never released by The Beatles. They’ve put out two albums over eight years and headlined a Beatles festival in 2009.

“I’m not gifted at all,” Jones says, strumming an unplugged electric guitar, one of 30 he owns. “I’m a blue-collar musician.” Jones was a longtime employee of Federated Department Stores. “Now I do as little as possible. I push leisure to its limits,” he says.

The steps of Johnny Jones' work-in-progress staircase in his Lakewood home are meant to resemble the keys of a piano, as seen April 15 2014. (Drew Perine/Tacoma News Tribune/MCT)
The staircase in Jones' Lakewood home in Washington is meant to resemble a giant piano.

Jones is being a bit coy. The makeover of his house has been a job all its own. The first thing you notice, if you make a right turn upon entering his home, is a recording studio with glassed-in sound booth. A mural of Abbey Road is on one wall of the studio. The other walls are apple green and the carpet is black. The numeral 9 is on the door, a nod to the Beatles’ Revolution 9 from The White Album.

Each of the Jones' six bedrooms has a different theme. One has sand-coloured carpet and a large ocean mural. A collection of ukuleles are propped against it. Jones calls it 'The Good Vibrations Room', an homage to The Beach Boys. Meanwhile, 'The Brit Room' has one wall covered by a Union Jack. The British flag also shows up on the bedspread and light switch cover plates.

Jones’ master bedroom is done in deep purple with “The love you take is equal to the love you make” stencilled on a wall. Even the bathrooms get The Beatles treatment. One is done in yellow and aqua colours to the theme of Yellow Submarine.

When he purchased the house in 2001, it was painted an eggshell white and carpeted with something that might have been seen in a 1980s Reno casino. Jones recently pulled up the last of it. It did come in handy, he notes, during his wild party days. It efficiently camouflaged stains from party guests who couldn’t hold their liquor.

A huge blowup of Abbey Road, the London street which the Beatles crossed in 1969 for their famous Abbey Road album cover, stretches across a wall of Johnny Jones' music room. He's playing a reissue of a Rickenbacker guitar. The 300 series was popularized by John Lennon during the Beatles early years.  (Drew Perine/Tacoma News Tribune/MCT)
A blow-up of London's Abbey Road, where The Beatles crossed in 1969 for their Abbey Road album cover, stretches across a wall in Jones' music room. He's playing a reissue of a Rickenbacker guitar, the 300 series popularised by Lennon in The Beatles' early years.

Today, he lives a quieter life with his Chihuahua, Pixie. The pair dote on each other. But it wasn’t always the two of them. In September of 2011, he married a woman whom he thought would never let him down. “We were John and Yoko,” he recalls.

Jones thought the marriage was going fine until one June day in 2012. “I came back from a weekend show and she was gone.” His wife had left him. He didn’t sleep for five months afterward, he says. He didn’t have a rubber soul.

But that was yesterday. Today, his home remodel helps to heal his broken heart. Memorabilia fills the home. Records and autographed pictures of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin line the walls.

Jones started collecting in the 1980s. First it was records, then it became ephemera. “I was up every weekend driving around the Northwest. I’d come home at night with my car full of stuff,” he recalls.

Though he quit collecting seven years ago, one room in the house is like Ali Baba’s cave, if Ali had hoarded figurines instead of gold. Jones calls it 'The Toy Room'. It’s packed with yo-yos, lunch boxes, games and thousands of other items from 20th century pop culture. A sign on the wall reads, “Nothing is real.”

“I bought all this stuff in the ‘80s to sell in the future. Guess what? It’s the future.”

It’s not all Twist and Shout in the Jones house. The living room is a calm oasis of white, like a Hollywood version of heaven. It’s a tribute to Lennon’s “white period”, during which Lennon recorded Imagine at his all-white Tittenhurst Park mansion in Ascot. A grand piano, like Lennon’s but black, sits in the room. 'IMAGINE' is painted on a wall.

Jones still has some work to do on the home. The grand semi-circular staircase will be refinished in black and white to look like piano keys. That last project will be like others in the house – partly completed by him and partly by others. Or, as Jones puts it, With a little help from my friends. – The News Tribune/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle , Beatles shrine , Johnny Jones , The Beatles , Abbey Road , A Hard Day s Night , Revolution 9 , White Album , Yellow Submarine , and Yoko , Tittenhurst Park


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