Brit Music: The Bizarre Plot to Clone John Lennon… and why it won’t work

John Lennon's wisdom tooth.  Image Source:

John Lennon’s wisdom tooth.
Image Source:

Two years ago, one of John Lennon’s wisdom teeth, extracted during the height of Beatlemania, and kept by his housekeeper and her daughter for years, sold at auction for £19,000, where it was bought by a Canadian dentist. He put part of it into a necklace and a statue, but he’s revealed his plans to clone the former Beatle from the DNA in his tooth.

On a Channel 4 show called “Dead Famous DNA,” Michael Zuk, DDS, who owns the tooth, explained that he planned to clone John Lennon from DNA that could be found in the tooth and raise the clone as his son. Of course, he conceded that the technology to do extract enough DNA to create a complete genome for him, much less a clone, from the tooth, does not exist at this point in time.

He explained his plans to raise the clone as his son: “He would still be his exact duplicate but you know, hopefully keep him away from drugs and cigarettes, that kind of thing. But you know, guitar lessons wouldn’t hurt anyone right?” And, if that wasn’t enough, wait until you hear what he does to challenge Yoko and Sean’s claim on John Lennon’s estate: “I don’t think I would be the one, you know, owning his property, he would have the rights when he was old enough to make er, make a claim… [It] depends where you do these things. If it can’t be done in one country you can do these things in another.” And, if that wasn’t enough, he plans to clone John multiple times.

To quoute Dr. Zuk, “Well, if it works once it’s going to work again, right?”And, here’s where I try and burst Dr. Zuk’s bubble.  Leaving aside the fact that, at this time, scientists can’t even clone animals without it going very wrong, much less humans, and that some scientists don’t even believe there’s enough DNA in the tooth to create a complete genetic portrait, much less a clone, there’s still no guarantee that he’ll turn out anything like John Lennon.

Here’s the thing; it’s very unlikely that his musical genius was the result of genetics; really, even though both Julia and Alf Lennon were witty and musical, like their son, nothing I’ve seen suggests the qualities that truly made John’s music great really came from them. Odds are, it had more to do with the massive chip John had on his shoulder (something I’m sure anyone raised by Aunt Mimi would get), and growing up as the musical scene of Britain was starting to evolve from beyond Gracie Fields, Vera Lynn, and George Formby with a new influx of American music. But before I start to sound too much like Malcolm Gladwell, I would also like to point out that Charles Manson, one of the most inarguably evil people alive, fathered an illegitimate son who, in contrast with his father, is a very kind-hearted House DJ who not only considers Gandhi his persona hero, and doesn’t even eat meat, but refuses to kill even insects. So, really, if the apple can really fall that far from the tree, is it any wonder that I don’t think it’s likely that his plan to clone John Lennon would work?

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  1. avatarCatharine says

    If they did clone him then his upbringing would have alot to do with any talents or characteristics he might have. The same would hold true if they cloned Hitler. A Hitler clone growing up today might have different opportunities than the original did. An open admission community college might accept the clone in their Art program. In that case his life may turn out differently and he would not be a murderous madman. A John Lennon clone would be raised in a completely different environment today. If the dentist-father tried to raise his teenaged clone to be a peace loving 60’s rock musician he might find it difficult. Like most teens the clone may rebel. He might in a state of rebellion watch a TV ad for the Marines and opt to enlist. It would be impossible to raise an exact double personality-wise in a human. In a lower animal it would be easier to raise it as a exact personality double.

    • avatarDerek says

      I talked about this with my Dad; with everything I told him about the story, he said that, especially with the standard Clone!John would have to go through, he’d almost certainly end up as one messed-up kid, and not in the ways that Original!John was. Also, cloned animals, as a whole, tend to live shorter lives than the original. You know Dolly? The cloned sheep? She only lived half her expected lifespan. So, it’s likely that, even if Zuk kept Clone!John straight-edge, Original!John would have lived longer, drugs, crazed fans with guns, and all.

      • avatarCatharine says

        A person’s personality evolves from the environment they got raised in. If for instance they decided to clone Martin Luther King Jr. he would not be the same man as his original. MLK Jr. was raised as a child and later teenager in a south that no longer exists today. Today his clone would probably be raised as a very priveleged young black man and because whom he was cloned from he would have access to the very best of American Prep schools and later Ivy League Colleges. His original went to a segregated black school in the south and spent living in a south where segregation between blacks and whites was very common. Today the clone would be growing up in a world that has seen it’s first black president. He would not be having the same dreams and desires as his original did. In truth he would be a completely different man. My point is environment creates who you are from day one of your life whether you are a clone or not.

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