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New book about 1970s lawsuit between John Lennon and a mob-connected record label owner due in May

Steve Morley/Redferns/Getty Images

The story of a legal battle that John Lennon fought with a notorious mob-connected music mogul during the 1970s is the subject of a new book that will be published on May 1.

Lennon, the Mobster & the Lawyer: The Untold Story was written by Jay Bergen, a lawyer who represented the former Beatles star in a lawsuit against Roulette Records owner Morris Levy, who’d released an unauthorized album of bootleg recordings from the sessions for John’s 1975 covers project Rock ‘n’ Roll.

While Lennon was still working on Rock ‘n’ Roll, Levy released a collection of raw versions of the tracks under the title Roots. In response, Capitol Records quickly released Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Levy responded by suing John for breach of contract, claiming that Lennon had verbally promised to promote Roots on TV. John then countersued Morris.

The book features Bergen’s recollections of his experience representing Lennon in the lawsuits, as well as John’s own words taken from the trial transcripts of his testimony. Lennon’s testimony included details about his recording process, and the making of the Rock ‘n’ Roll album; and explanations of why he decided to record an album of vintage rock tunes, and why he felt the release of Roots could damage his musical legacy.

The book features a foreword penned by famed rock photographer Bob Gruen, who snapped some of the most iconic images of Lennon during his years living in New York City.

Gruen writes in his intro, “Lennon, the Mobster & the Lawyer: The Untold Story reveals the John Lennon I knew as he describes his artistic process and shows his keen sense of humor. Jay tells many stories of his interactions with John and what he was like as a person.”

You can pre-order the book now at LennontheMobsterandtheLawyer.com.

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