Lakewood man turns his house into a shrine of The Beatles, pop culture

Staff writerMay 7, 2014 

The home of Johnny Jones 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 house.

But inside, the house is vibrating. On this day, as with most, it’s from a track by the iconic British band The Beatles.

Jones is an extreme Beatles fan. He’s not alone, but few have gone to the length Jones has.

Using paint, furnishings, murals and memorabilia, Jones has turned his Lakewood home into a temple devoted to The Beatles, classic rock and pop culture.

Jones became a fan of The Beatles at the age of 3 when he heard “A Hard Day’s Night.” Now 51, he’s still just as obsessed. He’s been to the birthplace of the Beatles — Liverpool, England — three times.

“Some people go to Jerusalem, I go there,” Jones says.

He doesn’t dress like the Beatles, he is 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 musician is being a bit coy. The recently completed makeover of his house has been a job all its own.

The first thing a visitor notices, if one makes a right turn upon entering Jones’ home, is a recording studio with glassed-in sound booth. A mural of Abbey Road is on one wall of the studio opposite a drum kit. 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 home’s six bedrooms has a different theme. One has sand colored 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.

Another, “The Brit Room,” has one wall entirely 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” stenciled on a wall.

Even the bathrooms get the Beatles treatment. One is done in yellow and aqua colors 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.

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 who 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. Local celebrities like TV’s “Brakeman Bill” McLain are represented, as is Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, a professional wrestler who competed at the Tacoma Armory.

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,” Jones recalls.

Though he quit collecting seven years ago, one room in the house is like Ali Baba’s cave — if Mr. Baba 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 Jones’ house. The living room is a calm oasis of white, like a Hollywood version of heaven. It’s a tribute to John 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.”

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541
craig.sailor@thenewstribune.com

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