Lennon expressed his rebellious spirit and biting wit through music, writing, drawings, film and interviews. With wife Yoko Ono (multimedia artist), they staged Bed-ins for Peace events; his songs became rallying cries in antiwar protest movements and counterculture movements alike.

As part of his vision for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’s cover design, British designer Peter Blake included a cardboard cutout of Jesus Christ in Lennon’s request.

 

John Winston Lennon

John Winston Lennon (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English singer-songwriter and peace activist who became one of the most acclaimed members of The Beatles before embarking on an accomplished solo career producing internationally popular hit singles like “Give Peace a Chance” and “Imagine”. Additionally he was known as an adept writer and artist.

Lennon became an iconic figure of the counterculture movement during the late 1960s due to his rebellious personality and sharp tongue, becoming known for being political and peace activist as well as producing several films himself and appearing in more. Additionally, in 1968 and 1969 he recorded three avant-garde albums together with wife Yoko Ono: Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins, Life With Lions and Wedding Album.

After The Beatles split, Lennon married Ono in 1974 and soon after gave birth to Sean on his 35th birthday in 1975. Lennon continued his musical activities until he died from gunshot wounds at age 40 in New York City. Mark David Chapman was responsible for Lennon’s killing; his work and activism inspired millions and his legacy still resonates around the globe today. As part of The Beatles in 1988 and as an individual artist since 1994, McCartney was voted eighth on BBC poll of Britain’s 100 Greatest Britons, and Rolling Stone magazine ranked him fifth greatest singer ever. Additionally he is inducted twice into both Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – once for The Beatles membership and again as solo artist – both memberships having sold more than 200 million records worldwide.

Born

John Winston Lennon was one of the most notorious and enduringly influential artists of our era, famed as an eloquent singer/songwriter/artist whose poignant songs of peace and love touched millions worldwide. Known for his rebellious streak and unwillingness to compromise, Lennon’s music, films, art pieces, writings, speeches and even speeches all showcased his characteristically outspoken attitude and rebellious spirit.

On October 9, 1940 in Liverpool, England, John Lennon was born to Julia (nee Stanley) and Alfred Lennon – an absent merchant seaman at the time of his birth – both parents being named Julia Stanley by Alfred as well as his namesake grandfather, John “Jack” Lennon and his Prime Minister Winston Churchill respectively.

Childhood for John Lennon was marked by disappointments and challenges. Both of his parents abruptly entered and exited his life without warning, leaving him raised solely by Mimi Smith (Lennon’s maternal aunt) and George Harrison. Lennon trusted very few people; even his marriage with Yoko Ono wasn’t without its difficulties and challenges.

Lennon underwent significant experimentation and change during the late 1960s, from his introduction of drugs (initiated by Yoko) to becoming involved with Trancendental Meditation movement. Woman Is The Nigger Of The World was perhaps his most overtly political work that showed his evolving understanding of women’s roles in society. After moving to New York City in 1971 his antiwar views made him an international symbol against war resulting in three year deportation attempt by Nixon administration.

Childhood

John Winston Lennon was born in 1940 to Julia (nee Stanley) and Mimi Lennon and raised by both of them as they grieved the death of Alfred, their father, in 1958. Following Alfred’s passing away, it fell upon Mimi to raise John and Paul while remaining within her household.

As a child, John found school life tedious. Later in his teens he found solace in rock and roll music and founded The Quarry Men skiffle group; later inviting Paul McCartney to join them and become the group which would later become The Beatles.

John left Dovedale Juniors in July 1952 and started attending Quarry Bank High School in Allerton. Here he can be seen wearing a red jumper with classmates Michael Hill, Ivan Vaughan, Jimmy Tarbuck and George Harrison pictured below.

From his earliest days as a musician, John Lennon’s songs became staples of both antiwar activism and counterculture movements. In 1969 he co-founded Plastic Ono Band with second wife and multimedia artist Yoko Ono; held two-week-long bed-ins for peace; left the Beatles altogether to pursue solo careers; produced Harry Nilsson’s album Pussy Cats as well as chart-topping singles such as “Give Peace a Chance”, “Instant Karma!”, and “Imagine”.

Early Years

As a teenager in England, John Lennon became restless at school and found comfort in rock ‘n’ roll music and art. He formed the Quarry Men skiffle band before meeting Paul McCartney; later becoming an activist for peace through activism (Nixon’s administration attempted to deport him) while running into trouble with authorities (they even attempted to deport him!).

Harry Nilsson, Ringo Starr and Micky Dolenz were among his many friends; he made movies too. But there were also incidents of public drunkenness and affairs to contend with; by the early 1970s, he had become an iconic symbol for those opposed to Vietnam War.

As Lennon entered adulthood, his fun-loving working class parents divorced and died, leaving their quick, sensitive child alone with his strict aunt who raised him. This led to feelings of alienation which he sublimated with difficulty before finding comfort through relationships; first Cynthia Powell whom he eventually divorced before eventually falling for Japanese free spirit Yoko Ono whom he eventually loved deeply.

Music

Lennon was one of the greatest, most gifted, controversial and influential singers of his era. He believed that being an artist required emotional and intellectual honesty. From The Beatles’ rock, to his solo debut John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970) and Double Fantasy (which he created, performed and co-wrote in 1980), his music transcended boundaries.

As part of his artistic growth and political activism, he alienated some fans while winning others over. But none could deny his achievements as a performer and artist.

Lennon stood out among singer-songwriters he admired by not often singing with an ordinary crooning voice; rather, his sound more closely resembled rockabilly artists whose style had inspired him; his signature was often using his canny, playful high voice for humorous or campy effect.

“Working Class Hero” and “John Lennon/Plastic Ono/Love Is a Stranger” conveyed an innocent impression of modern-day society; yet songs such as ‘Woman Is the Nigger of the World,” co-written with Ono, served as likely one of the first feminist anthems ever released by an established male rock artist.

After the release of Sometime in New York City, Lennon engaged in an epic struggle against U.S. Immigration that almost caused his deportation back to England. Lennon wrote the song ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’ as an allusion to this struggle and ultimately went on to sell over 14 million albums and 25 number-one singles on Billboard charts as performer, writer or co-writer before his death in 2001; in 2002 a BBC poll ranked him eighth out of their 100 Greatest Britons while Rolling Stone listed him fifth-greatest singer of all time.

Personal Life

John Lennon was an outspoken, rebellious soul – one whose music and writing expressed his sharp wit, political ideals and uncompromising personality in equal measures. A prominent voice against the Vietnam War, Lennon is revered for writing one of the most iconic rock songs ever written: Imagine. After giving birth to Sean in 1975 he temporarily retired from music but returned shortly before being shot dead by an insane fan with Double Fantasy album shortly thereafter.

Lennon struggled throughout his long and turbulent life to form deep and lasting bonds with those closest to him, often fearful of being hurt. Yet despite their sometimes turbulent marriage in 1976, Yoko Ono remains passionately dedicated to Lennon and their work together. A complex man with an astounding intellect who was constantly searching for answers to life’s greatest mysteries.

Lennon did not seek to appease or conform with public opinion and was often dismissive of those attempting to exert an influence over him. According to Lennon, writing was all about emotional and intellectual honesty – during his late Sixties psychedelic period especially, this required songs that spoke directly from their emotions’ source; overly-complicated explanations seemed like dishonesty as they sought an escape route for having to take responsibility for what they had to say.

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