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John Winston Ono Lennon , MBE was an English singer and songwriter who co-founded the Beatles (1960-70), the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. Lennon was born in war-time England, on 9 October 1940 at Liverpool Maternity Hospital, to Julia (née Stanley) (1914-1958) and Alfred Lennon (1912-1976), a merchant seaman of Irish descent, who was away at the time of his son’s birth.
Lennon became involved in the skiffle craze as a teenager; his first band, the Quarrymen, evolved into the Beatles in 1960. When the group disbanded in 1970, Lennon embarked on a solo career that produced the albums John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine , and songs such as “Give Peace a Chance”, “Working Class Hero”, and “Imagine”. After his marriage to Yoko Ono in 1969, he changed his name to John Ono Lennon.
By 2012, Lennon’s solo album sales in the United States exceeded 14 million and, as writer, co-writer, or performer, he is responsible for 25 number-one singles on the US Hot 100 chart. In 2002, a BBC poll on the 100 Greatest Britons voted him eighth and, in 2008, Rolling Stone ranked him the fifth-greatest singer of all time. He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987, and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a member of the Beatles in 1988 and as a solo artist in 1994.
At around 10:50 p.m. (EST) on 8 December 1980, as Lennon and Ono returned to their New York apartment in the Dakota, Mark David Chapman shot Lennon in the back four times in the archway of the building. Lennon was taken to the emergency room of nearby Roosevelt Hospital and was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:00 p.m. (EST). Earlier that evening, Lennon had autographed a copy of Double Fantasy for Chapman.
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Famed singer-songwriter John Lennon founded the Beatles, a band that impacted the popular music scene like no other.
Who Was John Lennon?
John Winston Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, during a German air raid in World War II.
When he was four years old, Lennon's parents separated and he ended up living with his Aunt Mimi. Lennon's father was a merchant seaman. He was not present at his son's birth and did not see a lot of his son when he was young.
Lennon's mother, Julia, remarried but visited him and Mimi regularly. She taught Lennon how to play the banjo and the piano and purchased his first guitar. Lennon was devastated when Julia was fatally struck by a car driven by an off-duty police officer in July 1958. Her death was one of the most traumatic events in his life.
As a child, Lennon was a prankster and he enjoyed getting into trouble. As a boy and young adult, he enjoyed drawing grotesque figures and cripples. Lennon's school master thought that he could go to an art school for college since he did not get good grades in school but had artistic talent.
Forming the Beatles
Elvis Presley 's explosion onto the rock music scene inspired a 16-year-old Lennon to create the skiffle band called the Quarry Men, named after his school. Lennon met Paul McCartney at a church fete on July 6, 1957. He soon invited McCartney to join the group, and the two eventually formed one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in musical history.
McCartney introduced George Harrison to Lennon the following year, and Harrison and art college buddy Stuart Sutcliffe also joined Lennon's band. Always in need of a drummer, the group finally settled on Pete Best in 1960.
The first recording they made was Buddy Holly 's "That'll Be the Day" in 1958. In fact, it was Holly's group, the Crickets, that inspired the band to change its name. Lennon would later joke that he had a vision when he was 12 years old — a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them, "From this day on, you are Beatles with an 'A.'"
The Beatles were discovered by Brian Epstein in 1961 at Liverpool's Cavern Club, where they were performing on a regular basis. As their new manager, Epstein secured a record contract with EMI. With a new drummer, Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey), and George Martin as a producer, the group released their first single, "Love Me Do," in October 1962. It peaked on the British charts at No. 17.
Lennon wrote the group's follow-up single, "Please Please Me," inspired primarily by Roy Orbison , but also fed by Lennon's infatuation with the pun in Bing Crosby 's famous lyrics, "Oh, please, lend your little ears to my pleas," from the song "Please." The Beatles' "Please Please Me" topped the charts in Britain. The Beatles went on to become the most popular band in Britain with the release of such mega-hits as "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand."
Lennon married Cynthia Powell in August 1962. The couple had one son together, Julian, who was named after Lennon's mother. Cynthia was forced to keep a very low profile during Beatlemania. She and Lennon divorced in 1968. He remarried the following year, on March 20, 1969, to Japanese avant-garde artist Yoko Ono, whom he had met at the Indica Gallery in November 1966.
In 1964, the Beatles became the first British band to break out big in the United States, beginning with their appearance on television's The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. Beatlemania launched a "British Invasion" of rock bands in the United States that also included the Rolling Stones and the Kinks. Following their appearance on Sullivan , the Beatles returned to Britain to film their first film, A Hard Day's Night (1964), and prepare for their first world tour.
The Beatles' second film, Help! , was released in 1965. That June, Queen Elizabeth II announced that the Beatles would be named a Member of the Order of the British Empire. In August 1965, the foursome performed to 55,600 fans at New York's Shea Stadium, setting a new record for largest concert audience in musical history. When the Beatles returned to England, they recorded the breakthrough album Rubber Soul (1965), noted for extending beyond the love songs and pop formulas for which the band was previously well-known.
The magic of Beatlemania had begun to lose its appeal by 1966. The band members' lives were put in danger when they were accused of snubbing the presidential family in the Philippines. Then, Lennon's remark that the band was "more popular than Jesus now" incited denunciations and Beatles record bonfires in the U.S. Bible belt. The Beatles gave up touring after an August 29, 1966, concert at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.
After an extended break, the band returned to the studio to expand their experimental sound with drug-influenced exotic instrumentation/lyrics and tape abstractions. The first sample was the single "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever," followed by the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), considered by many to be the greatest rock project in musical history.
The Beatles Break Up
The Beatles then suffered a huge blow when Epstein died of an accidental overdose of sleeping pills on August 27, 1967. Shaken by Epstein's death, the Beatles retrenched under McCartney's leadership in the fall and filmed Magical Mystery Tour . While the film was panned by critics, the soundtrack album contained Lennon's "I Am The Walrus," the group's most cryptic work yet.
Magical Mystery Tour failed to achieve much commercial success, and the Beatles retreated into Transcendental Meditation and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, which took them to India for two months in early 1968. Their next effort, Apple Corps Ltd., was plagued by mismanagement. That July, the group faced its last notably hysterical crowd at the premiere of their film Yellow Submarine . In November 1968, the Beatles' double-album The Beatles (also known as The White Album ) displayed their divergent directions.
By this time, Lennon's artist partnership with second wife Ono had begun to cause serious tensions within the group. Lennon and Ono invented a form of peace protest by staying in bed while being filmed and interviewed, and their single "Give Peace a Chance" (1969), recorded under the name "the Plastic Ono Band," became a national anthem of sorts for pacifists.
Lennon left the Beatles in September 1969, just after the group completed recording Abbey Road. The news of the break-up was kept secret until McCartney announced his departure in April 1970, a month before the band released Let It Be , recorded just before Abbey Road.
Solo Career: 'Imagine' Album
Not long after the Beatles broke up, in 1970, Lennon released his debut solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band , featuring a raw, minimalist sound that followed "primal-scream" therapy. He followed that project with 1971's Imagine , the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed of all Lennon's post-Beatles efforts. The title track was later named No. 3 on Rolling Stone magazine's "All-Time Best Songs" list.
Peace and love, however, was not always on Lennon's agenda. Imagine also included the track "How Do You Sleep?," a vehement response to veiled messages at Lennon in some of McCartney's solo recordings. The friends and former songwriting duo later buried the hatchet, but never formally worked together again.
Lennon and Ono moved to the United States in September 1971, but were constantly threatened with deportation by the Nixon Administration. Lennon was told that he was being kicked out of the country due to his 1968 marijuana conviction in Britain, but the singer believed that he was being removed because of his activism against the unpopular Vietnam War. Documents later proved him correct. (Two years after Nixon resigned, in 1976, Lennon was granted permanent U.S. residency.)
In 1972, while battling to stay in America, Lennon performed at Madison Square Garden in New York City to benefit mentally handicapped children and continued to promote peace. His immigration battle took a toll on Lennon's marriage, and in the fall of 1973, he and Ono separated. Lennon went to Los Angeles, California, where he partied and took a mistress, May Pang. He still managed to release hit albums, including Mind Games (1973), Walls and Bridges (1974) and Rock 'n' Roll (1975). During this time, Lennon famously collaborated with David Bowie and Elton John .
Lennon and Ono reconciled in 1974, and she gave birth to their only child, a son named Sean, on Lennon's 35th birthday (October 9, 1975). Shortly thereafter, Lennon decided to leave the music business to focus on being a father and husband.
In 1980, Lennon returned to the music world with the album Double Fantasy , featuring the hit single "(Just Like) Starting Over." Tragically, just a few weeks after the album's release, Mark David Chapman, a deranged fan, shot Lennon several times in front of his apartment complex in New York City. Lennon died at New York City's Roosevelt Hospital on December 8, 1980, at the age of 40.
Lennon's assassination had, and continues to have, a profound impact on pop culture. Following the tragic event, millions of fans worldwide mourned as record sales soared. And Lennon's untimely death still evokes deep sadness around the globe today, as he continues to be admired by new generations of fans. Lennon was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
- Name: John Lennon
- Birth Year: 1940
- Birth date: October 9, 1940
- Birth City: Liverpool, Merseyside, England
- Birth Country: United Kingdom
- Gender: Male
- Best Known For: Famed singer-songwriter John Lennon founded the Beatles, a band that impacted the popular music scene like no other.
- Astrological Sign: Libra
- Quarry Bank High School
- Liverpool College of Art
- Death Year: 1980
- Death date: December 8, 1980
- Death State: New York
- Death City: New York
- Death Country: United States
We strive for accuracy and fairness.If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us !
- Article Title: John Lennon Biography
- Author: Biography.com Editors
- Website Name: The Biography.com website
- Url: https://www.biography.com/musicians/john-lennon
- Access Date:
- Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
- Last Updated: April 14, 2021
- Original Published Date: April 3, 2014
- If someone thinks that peace and love are just a cliché that should have been left behind in the '60s, that's a problem. Peace and love are eternal.
- The more that I see, the less that I know for sure.
- All you need is love.
- There is nothing conceptually better than rock.
- We're all responsible for war ... we all must do something, no matter what.
- The thing the '60s did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn't the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.
- If there is such a thing as genius, I am one. And if there's not, I don't care.
- I don't know which will go first, rock 'n' roll or Christianity.
- What we got to do is keep hope alive. Because without it we'll sink.
- You either get tired fighting for peace, or you die.
- Declare it—just the same way we declare war. That is how we will have peace ... we just need to declare it.
- Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.
- Let it be. Whisper words of wisdom. Let it be.
- As usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot.
- Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.
- We're more popular than Jesus now.
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Biography John Lennon
“If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliché that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that’s his problem. Love and peace are eternal.”
– John Lennon
Short Biography of John Lennon
John Lennon was born, October 1940, during a German air raid in Oxford Street Maternity hospital, Liverpool. During his childhood, he saw little of his father Freddie, who went AWOL whilst serving in the navy. For several years, John was brought up by his mother’s sister Mimi.
In his early years, John was a mischievous student, who would be quick to take the mickey out of teachers and other students. His school reports were often scathing. “ Certainly on the road to failure … hopeless … rather a clown in class … wasting other pupils’ time. ”
Whilst in his early teens he got his first guitar and would spend many hours playing. His aunt Mimi used to regularly say:
“The guitar’s all very well, John, but you’ll never make a living out of it.”
After the Beatles were famous, John presented Mimi with a silver platter with this quote written on. He failed all his O-Levels but was still accepted to the Liverpool College of Art. However, he was expelled from College before his final year because of his disruptive behaviour.
In the late 1950s, John formed a rock group called the “Quarry Men Skiffle Band”, which was a precursor to the Beatles. In 1957, he met and formed a successful musical partnership with Paul McCartney . They complemented each other very well. Lennon focused on the more satirical aspects and McCartney veered towards the more optimistic cheerful qualities. Lennon was considered the leader of the Beatles, due to his superior age and also his musical abilities. It was, however, McCartney who persuaded Lennon to allow George Harrison to enter the band as lead guitarist.
The first concert of the Beatles was at the Cavern Club in Liverpool on 21st March 1961. After being rejected by many music labels, they eventually signed an agreement with Parlophone in 1962. George Martin who was responsible for signing the Beatles, later said he was not particularly impressed by their demo tapes, but liked their wit and humour – of which Lennon was usually at the forefront.
During the great success of the Beatles during the 1960s, John Lennon would often be seen as the figurehead for the group, although they maintained that the decisions of the group were democratic.
Paul, George and John Lennon
In 1961, the Beatles travelled to Germany, where they played many concerts in Hamburg. After two successful years, they returned to England and concentrated on recording singles. In 1963, the group’s profile took off with hit singles, such as “Please Please Me” and “She Loves You.” The popularity and enthusiasm for the Beatles were such that it led to the term “Beatlemania” being used. Lennon and the Beatles began a hectic schedule of recording, live performances and media appearances.
Despite his natural rebelliousness, Lennon agreed to the suggestion of manager Brian Epstein to dress smartly and have a similar haircut. In the early years of the Beatles, the smart-suited Beatles were part of their cultivated image.
In 1964, they released the single “ I Want to Hold Your Hand ” – it entered the US charts in early 1964 and soon sold over two million copies. Beatlemania was now a global phenomenon. It marked a shift in musical attitudes, especially in the US. The Beatles success of 1964, was known as the start of the “British Invasion”. In 1964, they toured the US for the first time, and in February appeared on the Ed Sullivan tv show.
The Beatles in 1964, JFK airport US.
John Lennon was no stranger to controversy. In 1966, he made an off the cuff remark in an interview with the Evening Standard.
“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink … We’re more popular than Jesus now—I don’t know which will go first, rock and roll or Christianity.”
He claimed this was a mere observation, which was probably true in England. Nevertheless, it led to a boycott in the US, especially in the deep south. There was also a wave of record burnings – although Lennon wryly remarked that to burn them they had to buy them first.
John Lennon and Meditation
In 1967, John Lennon and the Beatles became more interested in meditation and Eastern religions. They spent several weeks in the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi . Although John later broke ties with the organisation, he continued to advocate meditation.
“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”
“I’m not a god or the God, but we’re all God and we’re all potentially divine — and potentially evil. We all have everything within us and the Kingdom of Heaven is nigh and within us, and if you look hard enough you’ll see it.”
– John Lennon, The Beatles Anthology (2000)
In India, they composed music for their albums The Beatles and Abbey Road . The visit also saw more Eastern musical influences begin to percolate into their music.
John Lennon Solo Career
John Lennon by Roy Kerwood
In 1969, the Beatles started to split up; Lennon was keen to branch out musically and develop his own solo career. There were also frictions over the presence of his wife, Yoko Ono in the Beatles recording sessions. After the break-up of the Beatles, Lennon pursued a very successful solo career. His first album was released in 1970 with John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970).
“It was just a gradual development over the years. Last year was “All You Need Is Love.” This year it’s “Give Peace a Chance.” Remember love. The only hope for any of us is peace…. Get out there and get peace. Think peace, live peace, and breathe peace and you’ll get it as soon as you like.” (Statement to the press, July 1969)
In the early 1970s, John Lennon also became a figurehead for those opposed to the Vietnam War. His song “ Give Peace a Chance ” became an anthem for the anti-war movement. Due to his anti-war stance, the Nixon administration tried to have him deported, but after a long struggle, he was able to gain a green card in 1976. His song “ Imagine ” has also become a tremendously influential song; it has been voted ‘the most popular song’ by the British public.
In 1975, he retreated from the music world, preferring to spend time looking after his new son, Sean.
John Lennon married Cynthia Powell in 1963, though the marriage was kept secret. They had one son, Julian. The marriage broke down in 1967. Lennon married Yoko Ono in March 1969.
In October of 1980, Lennon made a return to music recording. But, just two months later on 8 December 1980, John Lennon was shot dead in Dakota, New York. He was shot by David Chapman – an obsessed fan. He later pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was imprisoned for life.
By 2012, John Lennon has sold 14 million solo albums, whilst the Beatles have become the best-selling group of all time – with an estimated 600 million recording sales worldwide.
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan . “Biography of John Lennon” , Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net , 28th May. 2007. Updated 25 January 2018.
John Lennon: The Life
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John Lennon: The Troubled Beatle
He had a boyish smile, a rebellious hairstyle, and a lilting Liverpudlian accent. His genius extended beyond music, to wordplay and visual arts. While he excited and inspired teens, he frightened parents and pastors, and was a target of the Nixon-era FBI. Who was this British phenom? Well, that would be the inimitable John Lennon.
With bombs falling around the hospital, John Lennon was born on October 9th, 1940, in the midst of World War II. His mother Julia gave him the middle name ‘Winston’ in honor of Britain’s leader at the time. His father, Alfred, was a merchant marine and was absent at John’s birth, as he would be for much of John’s childhood.
Lennon’s childhood was unsettled, with an absent father and a mother who simply couldn’t handle motherhood… After the age of four, Lennon didn’t even live with his mother, instead living with his childless Uncle George and Aunt Mimi. The two were a stern, but loving influence on Lennon throughout his childhood, though Mimi did what she could to discourage Lennon’s love of music. It was she who famously told him “The guitar’s all very well, John, but you’ll never make a living out of it.”
Lennon’s mother was more supportive of his musical interest, in fact, it was Julia who bought the guitar for him. Though Lennon didn’t live with his mother, he remained close to her, regularly visiting her house where the two would listen to Elvis records and pluck chords on the banjo, ukelele, and guitar.
Julia was also a frequent visitor at her sister’s house, where she spent mornings drinking tea with Mimi and chatting with her son. After one of these tranquil visits, tragedy struck. As Julia crossed the street to head home one day, she was struck and killed by a passing car. John was sixteen years old when his mother died, and he carried the weight of the tragedy with him for the rest of his life…
At the time Julia died, Lennon was already having trouble in school. He was smart, no doubt about that, but his wit and attitude got him into trouble with teachers. He created comics of teachers and fellow students in a work he titled “The Daily Howl,” and detention sheets from Quarry Bank High School show that Lennon once received three detentions in one day, with offenses over the years ranging from fighting in class, to sabotage, to “just no interest whatsoever.”
While he was goofing off in school, Lennon was paying close attention to his music. He was playing in a band called the Quarry Men – it was one of this band’s gigs that would ultimately lead to the formation of The Beatles.. On July 6th, 1957, the Quarry Men played the Woolton village fete and one of Lennon’s bandmates decided Lennon should be introduced to a friend of his. And who was that friend? Well, you might have heard of him – that would be Paul McCartney. That day, McCartney, who was two years John’s junior, taught Lennon how to tune a guitar and impressed him with a rendition of the song Twenty Flight Rock. The atmosphere of the day stuck with Paul, even if the exact year didn’t:
“At Woolton village fete I met him. I was a fat schoolboy and, as he leaned an arm on my shoulder, I realised he was drunk. We were twelve then, but, in spite of his sideboards [sideburns], we went on to become teenage pals.”
It was only two weeks before Paul was asked to join the Quarrymen, and he agreed. Shortly thereafter, Paul introduced John and the other band members to his friend George Harrison. It was 1958, and three of the four Beatles had found each other.
But music couldn’t be John’s only focus. Though he had failed his exams upon leaving high school, Lennon’s aunt and former headmaster pulled strings and persuaded the Liverpool College of Art to accept the rambunctious teen who did show incredible promise in the arts. Lennon started attending the Liverpool College of Art in the fall of 1957. He didn’t fare much better at the art school than he had in a traditional school, though he did meet his first wife Cynthia Powell. Lennon never had the right equipment for his classes, and was always borrowing Powell’s tools. It was also up to Powell to help Lennon on his exams, though he ultimately failed them anyway…
For all the help she gave him, Lennon was not a kind and loving boyfriend to Powell. In fact, he could be downright abusive, even acknowledging as much by later, saying: “I was in sort of a blind rage for two years. I was either drunk or fighting. It had been the same with other girlfriends I’d had. There was something the matter with me.”
The relationship lasted, though, and in 1962 Powell discovered she was pregnant with Lennon’s child. In keeping with the expectations of the time, the two were married in a simple civil ceremony in Liverpool. Lennon’s music career had already taken priority over all else, and they skipped a honeymoon so he could play a gig the night of their wedding.
Cynthia gave birth to Julian Lennon in 1963, and with the Beatles’ star on the rise in Liverpool, John didn’t pay much attention to his son. In fact, his relationship with his son was no better than it was with his wife, something Julian publicly and angrily spoke about as an adult.
“Dad could talk about peace and love out loud to the world but he could never show it to the people who supposedly meant the most to him: his wife and son. How can you talk about peace and love and have a family in bits and pieces—no communication, adultery, divorce?”
John was the only married member of the Beatles, and the only one with a child, and the group’s manager tried to keep this information about Lennon under wraps as he marketed the group. Girls wanted their pop stars to be single and cute – not married.
The Beatles’ rise to fame began at the Cavern Club, but it was interspersed with performances in Germany. Along with Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison, bandmates Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best made up the band’s lineup for their infamous stays in Hamburg, Germany at the Kaiserkellar club. The boys, no more than 22, and George only 17, lived in horrid conditions and survived on pills and alcohol during their stay. But the audiences loved them, especially Lennon’s onstage antics. One night he was supposed to be onstage, but instead was fooling around with a woman and the two only broke up when the club’s bouncer dumped cold water on them. Instead of getting dressed to go onstage, Lennon grabbed his guitar and joined his bandmates only wearing underwear and a toilet seat around his neck.
“You have to be a bastard to make it, and that’s a fact. And the Beatles are the biggest bastards on earth.”
When the Beatles returned to Liverpool and resumed playing at the Cavern Club, they caught the attention of a young record store owner in the area. Familiar with the group from their visits to his store, Brian Epstein went to one of their performances, saw their potential, and signed on as their manager. He got them a record contract and was by their side until his death in 1967. Epstein was gay, and homosexuality was still illegal in England during the 1960s. Over the years, rumors have persisted that Lennon and Epstein had an affair, largely stemming from a vacation the two took together to Spain in 1963 – mere weeks after his son was born. Lennon denied the rumors, saying: “I was on holiday with Brian Epstein in Spain, where the rumours went around that he and I were having a love affair. Well, it was almost a love affair, but not quite. It was never consummated. But it was a pretty intense relationship.”
By early 1964, the Beatles were hitting the airwaves in America. Then, on February 7, 1964, their plane touched down at the newly renamed Kennedy Airport in New York City. Crowds of teenagers greeted them, hanging over railings, screaming, and waving signs. When they made their way through the crowds to speak to the press , Lennon treated the American media to a dose of his classic wit. When a reporter asked why people loved the Beatles so much, Lennon replied, “If we knew we’d form another group and be managers.”
Two days later, the lads from Liverpool made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. As the studio audience screamed and 73 million Americans watched from home, the Beatles performed five songs. During the show, each Beatles name appeared on the screen. Lennon’s name had an addendum, though – it read “Sorry girls, he’s married.” Keeping Cynthia and Julia’s existence quiet was not possible for a man about to become one of the most recognizable in the world.
1964 saw the release of both the movie and album, A Hard Day’s Night, marking all four Beatles’ foray into the film industry. Lennon would later appear in a satirical film called “How I Won The War.” Not to be constrained by only two artistic mediums, Lennon also published a book in 1964 entitled “In His Own Write,” which he later followed up with a volume entitled “A Spaniard In The Works.”
As the sixties continued on, the Beatles stayed at the top of the pop culture world, and that high profile meant Lennon’s mouth could get him and the band into trouble very easily. In 1966, he famously told a reporter that the “Beatles were more popular than Jesus.” When the remark was published, it caused an uproar. So-called ‘Beatle Burnings’ were held around the United States, during which teens and their parents burned albums, photos, and other Beatles memorabilia.
“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock and roll or Christianity.”
In 1967, the Beatles took rock n’ roll to new heights with the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a psychedelic concept album that featured a collage of historic figures and celebrities on its cover. Initially, Jesus was supposed to be among those pictured in the artwork, but after Lennon’s 1966 remarks he was removed from the array.
One of the songs on Sgt. Pepper, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, has long been thought to be drug-related as the major words in the title create the acronym ‘LSD.’ However, Lennon said that his inspiration for the song’s imagery came from one of his favorite works of literature, Alice in Wonderland, with the overall idea stemming from one of Julian’s childhood drawings of a school friend named Lucy.
During this time period, Lennon had begun moving in avant garde artistic circles, primarily due to his new relationship with artist Yoko Ono. He had met Ono at one of her gallery shows, and at the time their meeting consisted solely of her handing him a card that said nothing but ‘breathe’ on it. Though Lennon was still married to Cynthia, he and Ono began spending time together, even recording an album called “Two Virgins” that featured both of them standing fully nude on the cover. Lennon and Cynthia did not officially divorce until 1968, though the relationship between Ono and Lennon was well known, with Ono spending time in the recording studio as the Beatles worked, and even lent her voice on the White Album song “Bungalow Bill.”
In 1969, Lennon and Ono married in a ceremony at the Rock of Gibraltar, an event that was famously chronicled in the song “The Ballad of John and Yoko”: “Finally made the plane into Paris, honeymooning down by the Seine. Peter Brown called to say, you can make it okay; you can get married in Gibraltar near Spain.”
While their wedding was a relatively isolated affair, they welcomed the world to their honeymoon. Lennon and Ono set up camp in a bed at the Amsterdam Hilton to promote world peace, lying in bed fully clothed for a week. They repeated the stunt two weeks later in Montreal, and it was at the Montreal bed-in that they recorded “Give Peace A Chance,” surrounded by members of the press and other friends and followers.
By this time, Lennon was fully dedicated to his life with Ono, and each of the Beatles had started to move in their own directions. Ono’s presence in the recording studio and her input on their music irked the other Beatles, and they had all also begun exploring different artistic worlds. The disintegration of the world’s most famous band had begun. Lennon was the first to tell the others he was leaving the group, and did so in September 1969. But it was Paul McCartney who broke the news to the world publicly that he was leaving, and the Beatles officially split on April 10th, 1970.
After the Beatles
Though he had left the Beatles behind, Lennon did not abandon music. His first post-Beatles album was released in 1970, with many of the songs inspired by primal scream therapy he had begun practicing as a method of dealing with the trauma he experienced in his childhood. The song that perhaps most demonstrates the influence of primal scream is “Mother,” which includes the lyrics, “Mother, you had me but I never had you, I wanted you, you didn’t want me, So I, I just gotta tell you, Goodbye, goodbye.”
By the time Lennon released his next solo album, he and Ono were living in the United States, settling into the luxurious Dakota apartment building in New York City. It was here that he wrote the most iconic of his solo work – Imagine. The song and the album were huge hits, and nearly 40 years after Lennon’s death the song remains an international anthem of peace and love.
Lennon and Ono enjoyed living in New York City, but the U.S. government did not enjoy having the counterculture icons in the midst of the largest American metropolis. In 1972, eighteen year olds would have the right to vote for the first time – and 18 year olds listened to John Lennon when he sang and spoke about the evils of war and the actions of the government. That made him a threat to Richard Nixon’s re-election, and in 1972, the government revoked Lennon’s visa based on these fears. They threatened deportation, and not wanting to be separated from Ono, Lennon essentially stopped his involvement with countercultural activities, but as threats of deportation continued, Lennon was forced to hire attorneys and continuously appeal to stay in the country. In 1976, only after the Nixon presidency fell apart under the pressure of Watergate, Lennon received his green card and was safe to stay in the United States.
During the struggle to obtain his green card, Lennon was also struggling with his relationship with Ono. The two essentially separated for over a year, and Lennon even moved out to California to live with a former secretary, May Pang, with whom Ono had encouraged him to begin a relationship. Lennon later referred to this period of his life as the “Lost Weekend,” as it was fueled by alcohol and drugs and marked by aggressive behavior from Lennon. He once tried to strangle Pang, and got thrown out of a club for drunkenly heckling the Smothers Brothers.
By Lennon’s absence, Ono realized that she needed him in her life. She ultimately came to blame society’s pressures, and not him, telling Playboy: “John was a fine person. It was society that had become too much…I’m thankful to John’s intelligence, that he was intelligent enough to know this was the only way that we could save our marriage, not because we didn’t love each other but because it was getting too much for me.”
“I’m not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything. I’ve always been a freak. So I’ve been a freak all my life and I have to live with that, you know. I’m one of those people.”
When the two reunited, Ono quickly became pregnant. She gave birth to Sean Lennon on John’s 35th birthday, October 9th, 1975. With the birth of Sean came a sea change in Lennon’s life. Where he had been an absent father to Julian, he was a doting father to Sean, giving up music and instead spending his time as a house husband. Lennon also began spending time with Julian again during the 1970s; Julian visited New York and Lennon taught his first son guitar techniques.
For five years, Lennon focused on domestic life, but by 1980 he felt the tug of the artistic muse again. He began writing songs, recorded an album, and officially re-entered the music scene with the release of Double Fantasy in the fall of 1980. John Lennon was back.
John Lennon’s Death
But his return was not to last. Two months after Double Fantasy was released, Lennon and Ono headed to the recording studio to work on new songs he had written. On their way to the studio, Lennon stopped to sign a copy of Double Fantasy for Mark David Chapman, a fan who was waiting outside the Dakota. On their return shortly before 11:00 PM, Chapman was still waiting outside the Dakota. As Lennon and Ono walked by, Chapman pulled a gun and fired five shots at Lennon. An hysterical Ono called for help, and the NYPD arrived, officers loaded the wounded Lennon into the back of a cruiser, and drove him to Roosevelt Hospital. But their efforts were fruitless, John Lennon was declared dead on arrival at 11:00 PM, December 8th, 1980. The United States heard the news via a Monday Night Football broadcast, and the news quickly made it to the rest of the world.
Crowds began to show up at the Dakota, singing Lennon’s songs and carrying signs in his memory. No funeral was held; instead Ono had his body cremated and scattered his ashes in Central Park. The location is now “Strawberry Fields,” a memorial dedicated to Lennon that is visited by legions of fans each year.
John Lennon’s public life was dedicated to art and to the promotion of peace. While his private life was quite a bit more complicated and dramatic, there is no doubt that he holds a special place in the lives of those who grew up with him and his music, as well as the children and grandchildren of those baby boomers who have come to love his music and his legacy. A groundbreaking musician, an experimental artist, Lennon turned his private pain into beauty for the world. His legacy has lived on for decades after his death, and surely will continue to live on long after we’re all gone.
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- Beatle people
- John Lennon
John Lennon biography
John Winston Lennon was born in Liverpool on 9 October 1940 . A founder member of The Beatles, and their singer, songwriter and guitarist, he was murdered in New York City on 8 December 1980.
The early years
Julia Lennon taught her son to play the banjo, and they shared a love of Elvis Presley’s music. The first song he learned to play was Fats Domino’s ‘Ain’t That A Shame’.
In 1957 she bought John his first guitar, a Gallotone Champion acoustic “guaranteed not to split”. Julia ensured it was delivered to her house rather than Mimi’s, as her sister was disapproving of music. She told her nephew, “The guitar’s all very well, John, but you’ll never make a living out of it”.
Lennon’s first school was Mosspits Lane Infants School in Wavertree, Liverpool, which he attended from November 1945 to May 1946. He then changed to Dovedale Primary School, and upon passing his 11 Plus attended Quarry Bank Grammar School (1952-1957). He formed The Quarrymen in March 1957, and in July the same year met Paul McCartney at the garden fete at St Peter’s Church in Woolton, Liverpool.
The pair quickly bonded, and began rehearsing and writing songs together at McCartney’s home at 20 Forthlin Road. Lennon’s first completed song was ‘Hello Little Girl’ , later a hit for the Fourmost. McCartney also introduced Lennon to George Harrison , and convinced him to let the young guitarist join the group, eventually named The Beatles after a series of other names were rejected.
We all looked up to John. He was older and he was very much the leader – he was the quickest wit and the smartest and all that kind of thing.
Lennon failed all his GCE O level exams, but with the help of his head teacher was accepted into the Liverpool College of Art. There he met Cynthia Powell , who became his first wife. They married after she became pregnant with their son Julian, who was born on 8 April 1963 .
With The Beatles
An unruly pupil, Lennon dropped out of college before his final year. By this time, however, The Beatles were working hard to establish a name for themselves. Initially managed by Allan Williams from May 1960, they were booked later that year to play at the Indra club in Hamburg. The trip wasn’t a success: McCartney and drummer Pete Best were accused of arson after a fire started in the cinema where they were staying, and George Harrison was deported for working while under the age of 18. Lennon returned to Liverpool after his work permit was revoked.
The Beatles returned to Hamburg after Harrison turned 18, and from April 1961 began another residency. While there they recorded ‘My Bonnie’ with singer Tony Sheridan .
In 1962 they returned to Hamburg to play at the Star Club, and in May were signed to EMI subsidiary label Parlophone. Their first single, ‘Love Me Do’ , was released on 5 October.
By the following year The Beatles had become a worldwide phenomenon, under the auspices of manager Brian Epstein . Their success looked unstoppable, though in March 1966 Lennon was interviewed by journalist Maureen Cleave, who quoted him as saying:
Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I do not know what will go first, rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. We’re more popular than Jesus now . Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary.
The quote led to protests in the southern and midwest US states, which included public bonfires of Beatles records and memorabilia. Lennon issued an apology of sorts at a Chicago press conference in August 1966, saying:
I was not saying whatever they’re saying I was saying. I’m sorry I said it really. I never meant it to be a lousy anti-religious thing. I apologise if that will make you happy. I still do not know quite what I’ve done. I’ve tried to tell you what I did do, but if you want me to apologise, if that will make you happy, then OK, I’m sorry.
By this time The Beatles had long tired of the demands of Beatlemania and the frenetic pace of touring. Lennon later wrote:
I always remember to thank Jesus for the end of my touring days; if I hadn’t said that The Beatles were ‘bigger than Jesus’ and upset the very Christian Ku Klux Klan, well, Lord, I might still be up there with all the other performing fleas! God bless America. Thank you, Jesus.
John was one of the best musicians of all time, possibly the best, certainly a genius.
The greatness of John Lennon as i see it:
–The increasing tension. For example I Should Have Known Better. Before Lennon, all pop music structure was AABA, where the tension decreased in the middle part B. But with Lennon the tension from the verse continued in the middle part. Besides that, in this song it is not only a key change in the transition to the middle part, it is even a little key change in it. The increasing tension was what first characterized The Beatles. The first single where the verse lacked this increasing tension was Can´t Buy Me Love. (But the chorus is OK). I didn´t know then it was a McCartney composition. – Other ways of increase the tension by Lennon is to pack together several little songs. Happiness Is A Warm Gun consists of three or four songs, and Bring On The Lucie consists of three songs. –All You Need Is Love has another way: First talking, then repeating half singing, then singing, and finally the climax in chorus. –The melody does not changes, but the background. For example in Strawberry Fields Forever and in Julia the singing melody uses the same notes, but instead the accompaniment changes! Listen to Puccini. He got tired of his sang melodies in Boheme and in Tosca he composed a lot where the sang melodies are often on the same notes, but the background changes instead. The effect can be stronger. –Octave Leap. For example, in the middle part of Please Please Me, Lennon makes an octave run in “…it´s so hard to reason with YOU…”, the climax of the song. George Martin didn´t understand the quality in that. In his orchestration of it in Off The Beatle Track, Martin excludes the octave, the most important bit of the song! –Verse and resolve. Typical for Lennon is a melody followed by a resolve, for example in No Reply “…I saw the light!”…and in Girl “girl! girl!…”. Lennon said that “a good song must have climax and resolve”. –Only one chord. In Tomorrow Never Knows there is only one chord, or bass note, an innovation in pop music. In the Middle Ages it was common with that bordun note, an unchanged bass note. When Lennon played the song the first time for George Martin, Martin didn´t like it. –Whole-tone scale. Most scales have both whole step and half steps between the notes in an octave. In the verse in Norwegian Wood, there is most whole steps, and that´s like the impressionists, for example Debussy. It sounds very clean. –Church Modes. A Hard Day´s Night is written in the mixolydian mode, an ancient vocal scale, preserved in British, Irish and American folk song. –If you play the beginning of Please Please Me slowly, you can hear the similarities with the Westminster bells ringing. When Lennon was a little boy, he loved visiting the divine services. Afterwards he used to improvise anthem music. Westminster bells could unconsciously have inspired him to the beginning of Please Please Me. There is also anthem music in the beginning of All You Need Is Love: “love love love…”. –The lamentation second. A little half step up in the scale. And that´s to indicate a pain. In All You Need Is Love Lennon sings the refrain twice unchanged and then suddenly the third time, rises a little, a very expressive and important step up. That step up started in the baroque epoch, and was called The lamentation second. When Lennon played it the first time to George Martin, Martin didn´t like it. He leaned towards McCartney and muttered: “It´s certainly repetitive”. –From darkness to light. Happiness Is a Warm Gun starts with a little melancholy, and ends with enthusiasm.—In the middle part of I Am The Walrus the darkness switches over to light: “sitting in an English garden…”. And the transition from the chaos and darkness in Revolution 9 to the light in Good Night. That is very typical in Wagner´s music. I think that temperamentally the two were similar. And I think Wagner would have loved the arrangement in Glass Onion. –Suggestive and hypnotic music. With small intervals between the notes in combination with some dissonance chord, Lennon can create a suggestive and hypnotic feeling in for example Across The Universe. It is more like Wagner than pop music. –Few notes. With few, but effective notes, Lennon can create more feeling than McCartney with all his notes, for example in If I Fell and Love. –A melody sang three times, in succession, with just a little change every time. When you hear it you can get frustrated or desperate not getting out from the melody. That we have in the middle part in I Call Your Name and in the middle part in And Your Bird Can Sing. And at the same time the melodies are stick together with a countermelody at the guitar. Rather hypnotic
get a life u spent way tooooooo much time on this
When does healthy admiration become obsession?
Live and let live. This man is happy writing what he wrote, and his chosen subject was a brilliant choice: the musical genius and founder of the Beatles, John Lennon. YOU are the one who needs to get his own life.
Wrong , Tony. Johan spends a great deal of his time throughout these blogs with his obsessive love of Lennon and obsessive ignorance/hate of McCartney, this with opinions and self-created thoughts presented as fact with no corroborating sources or quotes. Johan is indeed in need of a life; dog and Robert (particularly) know of what they speak.
Thank you Mike.
Is there a problem with someone wanting to inform other people of famous people? I think it is interesting
beautiful, are you a writer?
Thank you. I am not a writer. I just happened to be paralyzed when I heard Please Please Me and Do You Want To Know a Secret the first time.
John Lennon will never die.
Much of pop and rock music, including heavy metal, is written in the mixolydian mode. As for the rest, you have mischievously selected aspects of music theory to suit your argument. I’m not fooled and I suspect many others aren’t either.
From what I can gather a lot of what makes John Lennon’s Beatle songs musically interesting comes from Paul Mccartney’s involvement (Tomorrow Never Knows, Come Together, A Day in the Life). This is made clear when you look at their solo works.
If you want to talk about Lennon’s genius talk about his lyrics, which flow wonderfully and are full of wonderful imagery. Across the Universe is the best example of this and might very well be Lennon’s best work (it’s also my favorite Beatles song, which is amazing since Paul is my favorite Beatle not John).
I agree! I love John Lennon
When John is still living, I always wish for a Beatles reunion. The day John Lennon died, my wish & hope for their reunion also died. 🙁
All I can say is that it still breaks my heart to know John is no longer here. I was 17 when he was senselessly murdered. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. John is the best musician ever, sadly we only got a small sample of his work. He is so greatly missed by so many. We will always have you in our hearts and mind through your creativity. I so glad you were with us as long as you were.
You forgot to mention the family home before he moved in with his aunt Mimi. He originally lived at 9 Newcastle Road, Wavertree when he was a little boy.
That insect that took him away from his family,friends and us should never be mentioned by name.Throw him on the dustbin of history,that useless git.
May the Lord Jesus, bless and keep your family and friends. I feel your pain. I suppose John had finished his course here on earth, so let’s look forward to seeing him there.
John said this out of pure honesty. At the time, The Beatles were bigger than Jesus.
I think Plastic Ono Band is one of the best albums ever. Someone at the height of his fame exposing his vulnerabilities and pain. Remarkable.
I read some where that the night that John got shot Yoko said to the doctors or the news reporters that she didn’t want to announce his death on the tv right away because she said Sean was in front of it.
If you were here today… …you’d love CD’s, email, and trolling on the Internet. Miss you, John. 🙂
that hurt more than it should have
He was controversial yet spiritual. Many never understood him. People misunderstood his words. He would use power of communication to read people. This is partly what resulted to his shooting. He knew folks hated him anyway.
He was an amazing singer. I saw John ,Paul, George and Ringo 1966 in Essen/ Germany. I will never forget the concert, when i was sixteen!!!
John was a true genius. However his most blatant act of stupidity was when he took up with Yoko. I still blame her for being one of the primary reasons for him wanting to leave the Beatles. It’s still a head scratcher to me why he was attracted to her. She had no real talent, she sang like a cat getting it’s tail pulled, her looks were a 2 on a scale of 1-10, and she was dumb as a stump. I will always believe that she somehow brainwashed him.
True. As George Michael sang: “turn a different corner and we never would have met.” I,too, wish John had turned a different corner. He might even still be alive.
I have been a Beatles fan all my life. There music was what helped me when I was growing up. John Lennon will always be a hero to me and I’ll be forever grateful for all of them in my life!
Well, Ono was from a wealthy family and as for her being all those great things you have mentioned….you are probably righ…Japan has the worst bands ever becoming famous just because Japanese tend to like crappy music.
Whatever or whoever Yoko might be, we should respect her simply because John respected her, and she probably saved him from dying of an OD in 69/70. However, her role in the murder is equivocal, and she couldn’t save him from Ronald Reagan’s minions. I agree with Paul, the assassin’s name should be forgotten, he was just a tool.
Ronald Reagans minions? Really, Manteau? Politics has no place here but if you really want to do this I’m game.
This site is intended to celebrate the Beatles’ legacy, which really centers around intimate and universal love. What ironic heartbreak that the comment section is soiled by haters and goons.
John Lennon was probably the most brilliant and prolific music composer of the 20th century. With that brilliance comes a certain inability to relate much as Edison, Tesla and Einstein had difficulty relating. They all shared the commonality of being misunderstood. The man was genius and should there be any doubt look at what he has written and its social impact. He and the rest of the Beatles changed the face of music forever.
I like John Lennon, but the most brilliant and prolific composer of the 20th century is probably George Gershwin (discounting classical music) and I would rank Cole Porter, Bob Dylan, and several others above John Lennon.
Yeah, but let’s hear those other composers sing! On several occasions when I have attended a wedding what song did they play? Not Porter, Dylan, Gershwin or McCartney! John Lennon’s Grow Old With Me.
you are right
Dear Warptek, John had been an fervent supporter of Jimi Carter back in 1976., He had been an undesirable alien in the US of A from 1972 to 1975, when he eventually was granted his green card. He had won…too easily against a disgraced Nixon. In the meantime, John had nothing to fear from Carter’s team. But in November 1980, two things happened almost at the same time : The election of Ronald Reagan and John’s own return to the forefront of the pop*rock scene. You know what happened. Now, if you say politics are a forbidden subject here, we should never talk about John at all! I hate politics, but I’m convinced ( Like Sean ) that John Lennon’s assassination was a political one.
In November of 1980, two things happened almost at the same time: John’s return to the forefront of the pop*rock scene and the “Who Shot JR” episode of Dallas. You know what happened …
he was a really good friend of mine
I noticed a mistake and would like to correct it politely. John’s first school was actually Mosspits County Primary School. He was expelled in 1946 for misbehaviour and then enrolled in Dovedale Road Primary School. My source is ‘An Intimate Day by Day History’ by Barry Miles.
Time really works for Lennon. His compositions can age better.The tendency in later years in the voting of The Beatles best 20 songs, Lennon´s compositions always are dominating, with for example: –Strawberry Fields Forever, –Come Together, –Don´t let Me Down, –I Am The Walrus, –Revolution, –A Day In The Life, –Help, — Rain, –All You Need Is Love and don´t forget Hey Bulldog, a song that George Martin and McCartney stopped being released as single! and now there is a long story of that classic Lennon song in You Tube!! Today Harrison´s songs Something, While My Guitar Weeps and Here Comes The Sun are equally popular as McCartney´s most popular songs!! And Lennon´s solo songs are today more played than McCartney´s, for example: –Jealous Guy, –Imagine, –Woman, – –Instant Karma, –Give peace a Chance, –Love, –A Working Class Hero, –Grow Old With Me (on weddings nowadays). This Lennon´s success is despite George Martin´s always patronizing of him. George Martin preferred McCartney´s conventional and “vertical” melodies.
I don’t know why people persist in describing John’s upbringing as harrowing or tragic. After WW2 there were many children of John’s age, taken from institutions in Liverpool and from dysfunctional family situations, babies to teenagers, who were shipped off to the white commonwealth countries for a supposedly better life. While many did get this, others were horribly abused, physically, sexually, and mentally in foster homes and catholic institutions. Some of these people from John’s generation grew up so psychologically damaged they were institutionalised for the rest of their lives. The rest grew up effectively stateless and denied British citizenship to return to their place of birth and their families. It was years before they received any compensation from the British government and is one of the most shameful episodes in post war British history. John Lennon had a lucky escape. He came from a broken home and that was extremely sad but he was raised by people who loved and protected him and provided the best for him that they could. He grew up to be an angry young songwriter, no doubt about it, but I sometimes sensed that John himself was gaining perspective with increasing maturity before he was senselessly murdered.
In the praised film about The Beatles Eight Days A Week by Ron Howard from 2016, Lennon´s songs are dominating: Please Please Me, You Can´t Do That, A Hard Day´s Night, If I Fell, Help, Ticket to Ride, It´s Only Love, Day Tripper, I´m A Looser, Girl, Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, I´m Only Sleeping, Tomorrow Never Knows, Don´t Let Me Down. When they took up the recording of Sgt Pepper, they played Strawberry Fields Forever, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and A Day In The Life, no other songs from that album,but at the same time there is a big picture of McCartney.(formerly a very common typical situation).
There’s a fine line between healthy admiration and worrisome obsession as another commentator indicated here.
Without McCartney, there would’ve been no Lennon. And vice-versa. Said and done – concisely and simply.
Johan-Thank you once again for your willingness to praise John to the heavens and criticize Paul to no end. Your opinion and you are entitled to it. But, it’s old and repetitive and boring. The Beatles were John, Paul, George and Ringo. Not just John and not just Paul. You will never be objective when it comes to this topic but you will always be a bore. Merry Christmas.
The burden that lies upon a genius’ shoulder is that in spite of the freedom in ways of living, he is driven by an unconcscious and mysterious god within himself. Certain notions and ideas come to him – not knowing where from, not knowing that something within himself is driving him to create and he does not know to what purpouse these notions have. The artist, just like the genius is in a battle between these unconscious urges and the comfort and safety which all humans strive for. For that reason the life of a genius, so often ends in tragedy.
This is, in my opninion, of the upmost truth in the case of John Lennon. His nonchalant attitude when asked about his songwriting, may suggest that he himself, is not even aware of these urges. He suggests that he’s merely “putting words together”. However, the lyrical components of songs such as Strawberry Fields Forever and Across The Universe prove to me that John, was in some sense a higher being. His mind was able to grasp certain aspects that lie in the unconscious of all human beings.
This man was extraordinary, and to me the greatest artist to ever live.
john lennon is the bet singer songwriter of all the time
I was 10 years old when he died I was such a Beatles nerd but that ended when he died.
In the twelve month period from November 1966, John Lennon wrote five of the greatest songs ever – Strawberry Fields, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, A Day in the Life, All You Need is Love and I am the Walrus. Who else is comparable?
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English Lesson on John Lennon
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THE LESSON ON JOHN LENNON
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John Winston Ono Lennon is one of the most famous musical artists ever. He shot to fame as one of The Beatles. He co-wrote most of the band’s songs, the majority of which are now rock classics. He also helped shape the social revolution of the 1960s. His solo career further elevated him as a music legend. Lennon also achieved fame as a peace activist.
Lennon was born in Liverpool in 1940. He was brought up by an aunt, who bought him a harmonica and taught him how to play the banjo. Lennon’s mother played him Elvis Presley records and he fell in love with Rock and Roll. He told his mother and aunt he would be a famous singer one day.
Lennon met Paul McCartney in 1957 at a church hall concert. They became friends and began writing songs together. They formed a band called The Beatles. They became popular playing live at local clubs in Liverpool and Germany. Then they became the most successful and influential act in music history. Lennon famously said The Beatles were more popular than Jesus.
Lennon left The Beatles in 1970. That same year he released the ‘John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band’ album, which he recorded with his Japanese wife Yoko Ono. His album ‘Imagine’ followed in 1971. The title song became an anthem for anti-war movements. More classic albums followed. On 8th December 1980, Lennon was shot and killed outside his New York apartment by a deranged fan.
Sources: http://www.wikipedia.org/ and assorted biographies.
Match the words from the article on the left with their synonyms on the right. Are your answers the same as other students’?
Match the following phrases from the article:
LISTENING GAP FILL
John Winston Ono Lennon is __________________ famous musical artists ever. He __________________ one of The Beatles. He co-wrote most of the band’s songs, __________________ are now rock classics. He also helped shape the social revolution of the 1960s. His solo career further __________________ a music legend. Lennon also achieved fame as a peace activist.
Lennon was born in Liverpool in 1940. He was __________________ aunt, who bought him a harmonica and taught __________________ the banjo. Lennon’s mother played him Elvis Presley records and __________________ Rock and Roll. He told his mother and aunt he __________________ singer one day.
Lennon met Paul McCartney in __________________ concert. They became friends and began writing songs together. __________________ called The Beatles. They became popular playing live at local clubs in Liverpool and Germany. Then they became the most successful __________________ in music history. Lennon famously said The Beatles __________________ than Jesus.
Lennon left The Beatles in 1970. __________________ released the ‘John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band’ album, __________________ with his Japanese wife Yoko Ono. His album ‘Imagine’ followed in 1971. The title song __________________ for anti-war movements. More classic albums followed. On 8th December 1980, Lennon was shot and killed outside his New York apartment __________________.
CHOOSE THE CORRECT WORD
Delete the wrong word in each of the pairs in italics.
John Winston Ono Lennon is one of the most fame / famous musical artists ever. He shot to fame / famous as one of The Beatles. He co-wrote most of the band’s songs, the majority of which are now rock classical / classics . He also helped shape the social revolution of the 1960s. His solo career further elevated / elevator him as a music legend. Lennon also achieved fame as a peace activist.
Lennon was born in Liverpool in 1940. He was brought / bring up by an aunt, who bought him a harmonica and taught him how to play / playing the banjo. Lennon’s mother played him Elvis Presley records and he fell / fallen in love with Rock and Roll. He told his mother and aunt he would / will be a famous singer one day.
Lennon met Paul McCartney in / at 1957 at a church hall concert. They became friends and began writing / written songs together. They formed a band called The Beatles. They became popular playing live at local clubs in Liverpool and Germany. Then they became the most successful and influence / influential act in music history. Lennon famously said The Beatles were more popular / popularity than Jesus.
Lennon left The Beatles in 1970. That / Then same year he released the ‘John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band’ album, which he recorded with / by his Japanese wife Yoko Ono. His album ‘Imagine’ followed in 1971. The title song became an anthem / army for anti-war movements. More classic albums followed. On 8th December 1980, Lennon was shot and killed outside his New York apartment by a deranged / ranged fan.
The underlined, jumbled words are from the text. Spell them correctly.
PUT THE TEXT BACK TOGETHER
Number these lines in the correct order.
With your partner, put the words back into the correct order.
JOHN LENNON DISCUSSION
JOHN LENNON SURVEY
Write five questions about John Lennon in the table. Do this in pairs/groups. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper.
Without your partner, interview other students. Write down their answers.
Return to your original partner(s) and share and talk about what you found out. Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.
Write about John Lennon for 10 minutes. Show your partner your paper. Correct each other’s work.
1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.
2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find more information about John Lennon. Talk about what you discover with your partner(s) in the next lesson.
3. JOHN LENNON POSTER: Make a poster showing the different stages of the life of John Lennon. Show your poster to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all find out similar things?
4. MAGAZINE ARTICLE: Write a magazine article about John Lennon. Include an imaginary interview with him. Write about what he did every day and what he thought about.
Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Give each other feedback on your articles.
5. LETTER: Write a letter to John Lennon. Ask him three questions about his life. Tell him how important he is in today’s world. Read your letter to your partner(s) in your next lesson. Your “John Lennon expert” partner(s) will try and answer your questions.
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John Lennon facts for kids
John Winston Ono Lennon (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter and artist who rose to worldwide fame as the founder of the rock band the Beatles . After the Beatles stopped making records in 1970, he lived in the United States with his wife Yoko Ono , and continued his music career up until his death in 1980.
Early life and career
Later life and career, death and legacy, monuments and sculptures, with the beatles, solo career, images for kids.
Lennon started the Beatles in his hometown of Liverpool , with Paul McCartney and George Harrison . After Ringo Starr joined the band, they started to be very successful. People were excited by their music, and their live performances always pleased audiences. Manager Brian Epstein and record producer George Martin helped the Beatles become the most popular act in entertainment .
Lennon played the guitar, and later learned to play the piano. Most of the songs the Beatles recorded were written by Lennon and McCartney. Their songs were always credited as by "Lennon/McCartney" on Beatles records, but in fact they usually wrote their songs on their own. The two men often helped to make each other's songs better, so they liked to share writing credit. Famous songs written by Lennon for the Beatles are "A Hard Day's Night", "Help!", "Strawberry Fields Forever", "A Day In The Life" and many others.
The Beatles grew apart as the members got older. Lennon divorced his first wife, Cynthia Powell , and married Yoko Ono , while McCartney married Linda Eastman . Each wife had different ideas, and encouraged their husbands to depend less on each other. Later, some fans blamed Yoko and Linda for breaking the Beatles up.
Lennon loved his wife so much that he added her surname Ono to his own name, since she became Yoko Ono Lennon when she married him. He had never liked his middle name Winston (given him by his mother after Winston Churchill ) and wanted to change it. He could add a new name, so he did that. He never used the name Winston again, unless he had to for legal reasons (such as when he travelled to America). Otherwise he gave his "full name" as John Wong Ono Lennon.
Lennon and Ono moved to the United States in 1971, and settled in New York City . Ono had a daughter, Kyoko Chan Cox, from an earlier husband, Anthony Cox, a jazz musician, who took her and disappeared. It was easier to look for Kyoko, and get the law's help to look, if they stayed in America. Ono and Lennon were also hurt emotionally by the way Ono was treated by many people in England. Some insulted Ono, and asked Lennon why he was with her. On the other hand, most of the people they met in America accepted them together.
Lennon recorded several albums and singles after the Beatles disbanded. The best-known one was Imagine . He made many records with Yoko Ono. On some records they called themselves the Plastic Ono Band . Lennon and Ono worked with different musician friends, including Ringo Starr, Jim Keltner , Klaus Voormann , Harry Nilsson , Eric Clapton and Elton John . Lennon's solo music was different from his Beatles songs. He spoke more directly about his own feelings, and sometimes used harsh language or loud sounds. This upset a few fans, who wished for more Beatles music from him.
Lennon and Ono were also campaigners for peace in the world. They used Lennon's famous name to talk to the media (television, radio and newspapers) about their beliefs. Lennon and Ono were sometimes in trouble with people like politicians , who did not like the things they said. President Richard Nixon 's administration even tried to deport Lennon, because of his political views.
The two things Lennon and Ono wanted most were to live permanently in the United States, and to have a child together. Their lives were stressful in the early 1970s for several reasons. There were the problems with immigrating to the United States, and with the search for Kyoko. The public were also sometimes negative toward Ono, her music, and her ideas. The couple had several miscarriages , caused partly by the stress.
Lennon also had business problems, because leaving the Beatles was not as simple as quitting an ordinary job. The Beatles had signed many contracts . They promised to do things in a certain way, meet deadlines , and work together, to be paid as musicians and songwriters. Many business deals had to be finished or changed, and new deals had to be made, to continue their music careers apart. This took time, and meant making many hard decisions. The four former Beatles could not always agree on what to do with the things they owned together. It took years to work out what to still own in common, what to divide up, and what to let go. The choices they had to make sometimes hurt their friendship.
Lennon and Ono separated for over a year, from late 1973 until early 1975, because of the stress in their lives, and their relationship. Each of them dated another person (Lennon pairing off with May Pang , his and Ono's personal assistant, and Ono with guitarist David Spinozza), and they were nearly divorced. They spoke nearly every day by telephone, however, and tried to work things out. They decided that they wanted to be together more than anyone else could want them apart, and they reunited.
When Richard Nixon faced the Watergate crisis in 1974, it became more important than pushing Lennon out of the country. The deportation case against him was dropped. Lennon won the right to stay in America in 1975. Lennon and Ono also finally had a son, Sean Lennon , that October. Father and son shared the same birthday.
Lennon and Ono stopped making music for five years, to be able to spend more time together, and give Sean as much attention as he needed. They lived on Lennon's income from the music he already made. Ono became Lennon's business manager, and invested his money in real estate and organic farming. Her office was downstairs in the Dakota, the apartment building where they lived, so they were never far apart. Lennon became a full-time father to Sean, and he was proud to call himself a "househusband". They also visited Ono's family in Japan several times, and made other trips.
In 1980 Lennon and Ono began to write new music, as Sean got old enough to begin school. They recorded a new album titled Double Fantasy that year. A single from the album, "(Just Like) Starting Over", was a hit, and people welcomed Lennon back. Even people who had not liked Ono earlier now respected her, and more of them began to like her music. Lennon and Ono planned to start fresh, do a world tour, and record more albums.
On December 8, 1980, Lennon was shot dead as he was going into his home, by a man named Mark David Chapman who was mentally ill . Even though he was ill, Chapman was still prosecuted for murder , because he killed Lennon. Chapman pled guilty to the murder the next year, and is still in prison today. He admitted later he was jealous of Lennon's fame and success, while his own life disappointed him. Chapman thought that killing Lennon would give his own life more meaning. He is always refused for parole , and is infamous (hated by many people).
Fans all over the world mourned Lennon's death. It made them feel that a special part of their lives was gone. Many met in New York's Central Park , near where Lennon and Ono lived, to say their goodbyes. Some played recordings of Lennon's music. Politicians and celebrities everywhere were sorry Lennon had died, even if they disliked him, because his music meant so much to so many people. Radio stations in the Soviet Union , where rock music was rarely allowed to be played, gave an hour over to Beatles recordings.
There was no funeral for Lennon, but Yoko Ono asked people everywhere to observe ten minutes of silence and prayer for him on Sunday, December 14, 1980, at 2:00 PM. At two o'clock, the music playing in Central Park stopped, and people all over the world fell silent for ten minutes. Other tributes came later, including songs by George Harrison ("All Those Years Ago"), Paul McCartney ("Here Today"), Elton John ("Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)") and Queen ("Life Is Real (Song for Lennon)").
Lennon's music (with and after his Beatles years) is still played everywhere, and people are still touched by it. A series of radio programs were devoted to playing demoes of his songs. Young musicians play Lennon's records, and learn his music. Yoko Ono released an album of acoustic versions of many Lennon songs, to help musicians understand them better.
There is now a garden in Central Park in Lennon's memory called "Strawberry Fields" after one of Lennon's most popular songs, which in turn was named after a Salvation Army orphanage near his childhood home. On October 9, 1990 , on what would have been Lennon's fiftieth birthday, "Imagine" was simulcast on radio and television stations all over the world, uniting people everywhere to remember Lennon and his music.
- 1981 Los Angeles , USA , City Hall–East, by Brett-Livingstone Strong.
- 2001 John Lennon Park, Havana , Cuba , by José Villa Soberón
- 2002 John Lennon Airport , Liverpool , England
- 2005 A Coruña , Spain , by Jose Luis Ribas
- 2006 Almería , Spain, by Carmen Mudarra
- 2007 Imagine Peace Tower, Reykjavík , Iceland by Ono
- 2007 Lima , Peru
- Liverpool, Cavern Pub
- "Imagine Monument", Strawberry Fields , Central Park, New York City
- Plaça De John Lennon, on Travessera de Grácia in Barcelona , Catalunya , Spain
BRIT Awards :
- 1977: Outstanding contribution to the recording industry during the past 25 years.
- 1977: Best British pop group of the past 25 years.
- 1977: Best British pop album of the past 25 years (for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band ).
- 1983: Outstanding contribution to music.
- 1982 Grammy Award - 1981 Album of the Year (for Double Fantasy)
- 1982 BRIT Awards - Outstanding contribution to music.
- In 2002, a 100 Greatest Britons BBC poll voted Lennon into eighth place.
- In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Lennon number 38 on its list of "The Immortals: The Fifty Greatest Artists of All Time".
- In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Lennon number five on its list of "100 Greatest Singers of All Time".
- Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins (with Yoko Ono ) (1968)
- Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions (with Yoko Ono ) (1969)
- Wedding Album (with Yoko Ono ) (1969)
- Live Peace In Toronto (with Plastic Ono Band ) (1969)
- John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)
- Imagine (1971)
- Some Time in New York City (with Yoko Ono ) (1972)
- Mind Games (1973)
- Walls and Bridges (1974)
- Rock 'n' Roll (1975)
- Double Fantasy (with Yoko Ono ) (1980)
- Milk and Honey (with Yoko Ono ) (1984)
- Live In New York City (Recorded live in 1972) (1986)
Lennon's home at 251 Menlove Avenue
Ringo Starr , George Harrison , Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1963
Lennon in 1964
McCartney, Harrison and Lennon, 1964
Lennon in 1967
Yoko Ono and Lennon in March 1969
Advertisement for "Imagine" from Billboard , 18 September 1971
Publicity photo of Lennon and host Tom Snyder from the television programme Tomorrow . Aired in 1975, this was the last television interview Lennon gave before his death in 1980.
Wintertime at Strawberry Fields in Central Park with the Dakota in the background
Cynthia Lennon at the unveiling of the John Lennon Peace Monument in Liverpool in October 2010
Brian Epstein in 1965
Julian Lennon at the unveiling of the John Lennon Peace Monument
Lennon and Ono in 1980 by Jack Mitchell
May Pang in 1983
Sean Lennon at a Free Tibet event in 1998
Lennon (left) and the rest of the Beatles arriving in New York City in 1964
Lennon's Les Paul Jr.
Statue of Lennon outside The Cavern Club , Liverpool
Street art image of Lennon on the Lennon Wall in Prague .
- This page was last modified on 16 October 2023, at 16:53. Suggest an edit .
John Lennon (1940-1980)
- Music Artist
IMDbPro Starmeter See rank
- 22 wins & 37 nominations total
- Music Department
- John (uncredited)
- original composer
- John Lennon (voice)
- John Lennon
- In-development projects at IMDbPro
- Apple Music
- Plastic Ono Band
- 5′ 11″ (1.80 m)
- October 9 , 1940
- Liverpool, Lancashire, England, UK
- December 8 , 1980
- New York City, New York, USA (murdered by gunshot)
- Spouses Yoko Ono March 20, 1969 - December 8, 1980 (his death, 1 child)
- Children Sean Lennon
- Parents Alfred Lennon
- Mimi Smith (Aunt or Uncle)
- Other works TV commercial: One2One cell phones (archive footage)
- 23 Biographical Movies
- 28 Print Biographies
- 25 Portrayals
- 9 Interviews
- 121 Articles
- 3 Pictorials
- 55 Magazine Cover Photos
Did you know
- Trivia During the 1960s he had attempted to instigate a live action adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien 's "Lord Of The Rings" books (of which he was a fan), starring himself and his Beatle bandmates. Lennon had expressed interest in the role of Gollum, with Paul McCartney playing Frodo, Ringo Starr playing Sam and George Harrison playing Gandalf.
- Quotes When real music comes to me - the music of the spheres, the music that surpasseth understanding - that has nothing to do with me, 'cause I'm just the channel. The only joy for me is for it to be given to me, and to transcribe it like a medium...those moments are what I live for.
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John Lennon Biography, Height, Age, Family, Wife, Children, Affairs, Death, Songs, Albums & More
John Lennon Biography, Height, Age, Family, Wife, Children, Affairs, Death, Songs, Albums & More
Who is John Lennon?
John Winston Ono Lennon was an English singer, songwriter, musician and peace activist who achieved worldwide fame as co-lead vocalist, co-songwriter and rhythm guitarist of the Beatles as well as one of the founders of the group.
John Lennon Early Life / Childhood
John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, England. He was the first and only child of Alfred Lennon and Julia Stanley. His father was a merchant seaman and his mother worked as a waitress. John's parents separated when he was very young, and he was raised primarily by his Aunt Mimi and her husband, George Smith.
Growing up, John was a mischievous child who loved to draw and write stories. He was also deeply affected by the death of his mother, who was struck by a car when John was just 17 years old. This loss had a profound impact on his life and would inform much of his songwriting in later years.
Despite his love of art and writing, John struggled academically in school and eventually dropped out of high school to pursue a career in music. In 1957, he formed his first band, The Quarrymen, which would later become The Beatles.
John Lennon Career
John Lennon's career as a musician began with his formation of The Quarrymen in 1957. The band's lineup changed frequently over the years, but it eventually included George Harrison and Paul McCartney, who would later become two of Lennon's fellow Beatles. In 1960, the group changed its name to The Beatles and began to gain popularity in the United Kingdom and beyond.
The Beatles' music, which blended rock and roll, pop, and other styles, had a huge impact on popular culture in the 1960s. Lennon wrote and co-wrote many of the band's biggest hits, including "Help!", "Imagine," "All You Need Is Love," and "A Hard Day's Night." He was also known for his distinctive voice and his ability to play multiple instruments, including the guitar, piano, and harmonica.
In addition to his work with The Beatles, Lennon had a successful solo career after the band's breakup in 1970. He released a number of acclaimed albums, including "Imagine," "Mind Games," and "Walls and Bridges." Lennon also collaborated with other musicians, such as Yoko Ono, with whom he released several albums and worked on a number of artistic projects.
Lennon was known not only for his music, but also for his activism and his commitment to peace. He and Ono famously staged a series of "bed-ins for peace" in the late 1960s, and he was a vocal advocate for causes such as civil rights and anti-war efforts.
Unfortunately, Lennon's life was tragically cut short when he was shot and killed outside of his apartment in New York City in 1980. However, his music and legacy continue to influence and inspire generations of musicians and fans around the world.
John Lennon Facts
Here are some interesting facts about John Lennon:
1. John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, England.
2. Lennon formed a band with his school friends called The Quarrymen, which eventually evolved into The Beatles.
3. Lennon was known for his creative songwriting, and many of his songs tackled important social issues of the time, such as war and civil rights.
4. Lennon married artist Yoko Ono in 1969, and the couple became known for their political activism and avant-garde art.
5. In 1970, The Beatles officially disbanded, and Lennon embarked on a successful solo career.
5. In 1980, Lennon was tragically murdered outside of his New York City apartment building by a deranged fan.
6. Lennon's legacy continues to be felt in the music world, and his influence can be heard in the work of countless artists.
John Lennon Death
John Lennon was tragically murdered on December 8, 1980, outside of his apartment building in New York City. He was shot four times by a deranged fan named Mark David Chapman, who had previously requested an autograph from Lennon earlier that day. Lennon was rushed to the hospital, but unfortunately, he died from his injuries. Chapman was arrested at the scene and later pleaded guilty to the murder. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison and remains incarcerated to this day. Lennon's death was a profound loss for the music world and his many fans, and his legacy continues to be celebrated to this day.
Birth name: John Winston Lennon
Date of Birth: 9 October 1940
Birth Place: Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Died: 8 December 1980 (aged 40)
Death place: New York City, US
Cause of death: Gunshot wounds
Resting place: Ashes scattered in Central Park, New York City
Other names: John Winston Ono Lennon
Profession: Singer, songwriter, musician
Parents: Alfred Lennon (father)
Julia Stanley (mother)
Spouse(s): Cynthia Powell(m. 1962; div. 1968)
Yoko Ono(m. 1969)
Children: Sean Lennon
Partner(s): May Pang (1973–1975)
Height: 1.75 m
Zodiac sign/Sun sign: Libra
Net Worth: $800 million
Albums with Yoko Ono
Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins (Apple, 1968)
Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions (Zapple, 1969)
Wedding Album (Apple, 1969)
Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band (Apple, 1970)
Some Time in New York City (Apple, 1972)
Double Fantasy (Geffen, 1980)
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (Apple, 1970)
Imagine (Apple, 1971)
Mind Games (Apple, 1973)
Walls and Bridges (Apple, 1974)
Rock 'n' Roll (Apple, 1975)
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