John Winston Ono Lennon (born John Winston Lennon; 9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter, pianist, and peace activist who rose to fame as the band’s founder, co-composer, co-lead vocalist, and rhythm guitarist. Lennon’s music, writing, and artwork, as well as his performances on film and in interviews, were notable for their rebelliousness and biting wit. His songwriting collaboration with Paul McCartney remains the most well-known in history.
John Winston Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, during a German air raid.
When Lennon was four years old, his parents divorced, and he eventually moved in with his aunt Mimi. John Lennon’s father was a merchant seaman. He was not present at his son’s birth and did not spend much time with him when he was young.
Julia, John Lennon’s mother, had remarried but continued to visit him and Mimi on a regular basis. She purchased John Lennon’s first guitar and taught him to play the piano and banjo. Lennon was devastated when Julia was killed by a car driven by an off-duty police officer in July 1958. Her death was one of the most traumatic experiences of his life.
As a child, Lennon enjoyed playing practical jokes and getting into mischief. As a child and young adult, he enjoyed painting deformed and crippled figures. Because Lennon possessed creative talent but received poor grades in school, his schoolmaster believed he could attend an art college.
Lennon was a skiffle fan as a kid. He founded The Quarrymen in 1956, and they became The Beatles in 1960. He was the group’s de facto leader at first, sometimes referred to as “the wise Beatle,” a position that was eventually transferred to McCartney.
In addition to starring in films such as How I Won the War, Lennon also wrote two volumes of nonsense writing and line drawings titled In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works.
Beginning with “All You Need Is Love,” his compositions were used as anthems by the anti-war movement and the broader counterculture of the 1960s. In 1969, he co-founded the Plastic Ono Band with his second wife, multimedia artist Yoko Ono, and organized the two-week anti-war Bed-ins for Peace protest. In addition, he left the Beatles to pursue a solo career.
Lennon and Ono worked together on a variety of projects between 1968 and 1972, including a trilogy of avant-garde albums, further films, his solo debut John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, and the top 10 songs “Give Peace a Chance,” “Instant Karma!”, “Imagine,” and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”.
Due to his criticism of the Vietnam War, the Nixon administration attempted to deport him for three years after relocating to New York City in 1971. Between 1973 and 1975, when Lennon and Ono were no longer together, he worked on Harry Nilsson’s Pussy Cats album.
He also worked on chart-topping songs with David Bowie and Elton John, including “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” (“Fame”). After a five-year hiatus, Lennon made his musical comeback in 1980 with the Ono-collaborated album Double Fantasy. Mark David Chapman, a Beatles fan, murdered him three weeks after the album’s release.
As a performer, songwriter, or co-writer, Lennon had 25 number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. His best-selling album, Double Fantasy, won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1981. In 1982, Lennon received the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. In a BBC history poll of the 100 Greatest Britons in 2002, Lennon was ranked ninth. Rolling Stone ranked him as the 38th greatest artist overall and the fifth greatest singer. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, once as a member of the Beatles in 1988 and again as a solo performer in 1994, as well as the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1997.
John Lennon Murder
On December 8, 1980, at around 5:00 p.m., Lennon signed a copy of Double Fantasy for Mark David Chapman before he and Ono left The Dakota for a recording session at the Record Plant. Around 10:50 p.m. after the session, Lennon and Ono rode in a limousine back to the Dakota. They got out of the car and entered the building through the archway. Then, at close range, Chapman fired four shots at Lennon—two to the back and two to the shoulder. At 11:15 p.m., Lennon was transported in a police car to the emergency room of Roosevelt Hospital, where he was declared dead.
The next day, Ono released a statement that read: “John loved and prayed for the human race, and there is no funeral for him,” it reads. Do the same for him, please.” At Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, his bones were cremated. In Central Park in New York, where the Strawberry Fields memorial was subsequently built, Ono had his ashes spread. When Chapman disregarded his lawyer’s advice and pled guilty to second-degree murder, he avoided going to trial and received a 20-years-to-life sentence.
“(Just Like) Starting Over” and “Double Fantasy” topped the charts in the US and the UK in the weeks after the murder. In January 1981, “Imagine” reached at number one in the UK, while “Happy Xmas” peaked at number two. “Woman,” the second song from Double Fantasy, replaced “Imagine” atop the UK chart. Later that year, Roxy Music’s cover of “Jealous Guy,” which was created as a homage to Lennon, reached number one in the UK.
- 1970: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
- 1971: Imagine
- 1973: Mind Games
- 1974: Walls and Bridges
- 1975: Rock ‘n’ Roll
With Yoko Ono
- 1968: Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins
- 1969: Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions
- 1969: Wedding Album
- 1970: Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band
- 1972: Some Time in New York City
- 1989: Double Fantasy
- 1984: Milk and Honey (Polydor)
- 1977 The Day the Music Died
- 1976 Chelsea Girls with Andy Warhol
- 1972 Ten for Two: The John Sinclair Freedom Rally
- 1972 Eat the Document
- 1971 Up Your Legs Forever
- 1971 The Museum of Modern Art Show
- 1971 Sweet Toronto
- 1971 Erection
- 1971 Clock
- 1971 Breathing Together: Revolution of the Electric Family
- 1970 Let It Be
- 1970 Freedom
- 1970 Fly
- 1970 Apotheosis
- 1970 3 Days in the Life
- 1969 Walden (Diaries, Notes, and Sketches)
- 1969 Self-Portrait
- 1969 Muhammad Ali, the Greatest
- 1969 Honeymoon
- 1969 Bed Peace
- 1968 Yellow Submarine
- 1968 Two Virgins
- 1968 No. 5
- 1967 Pink Floyd: London
- 1967 Magical Mystery Tour
- 1967 How I Won the War
- 1967 Bottoms
- 1965 Help!
- 1964 A Hard Day’s Night
- 1977 All You Need Is Love: The Story of Popular Music
- 1975 A Salute to the Beatles: Once upon a Time
- 1972 John Lennon and Yoko Ono Present the One-to-One Concert
- 1972 Imagine
- 1971 The Dick Cavett Show
- 1969 Rape
- 1966 The Beatles in Japan
- 1966 The Beatles at Shea Stadium
- 1965 The Music of Lennon & McCartney
- 1965 Not Only… But Also
- 1964 What’s Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.A.
- 1964 The Ed Sullivan Show
- 1964 Around the Beatles
- 1964 Ready Steady Go!