The Beatles and John Lennon are immortalised globally. Lennon pioneered American music as part of this legendary British quartet with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. After The Beatles, Harrison continued to collaborate with Yoko Ono and influence music. Tragically, a fan killed Lennon. This page describes John Lennon’s extraordinary life and legacy.
John Lennon, His Early Life and Family
Liverpool, England, welcomed John Winston Lennon on October 9, 1940. His father, Alfred Lennon, an Irish sailor, was frequently away from Julia throughout her pregnancy. The Lennons’ parents’ troubled relationship and his father’s nautical job interrupted their childhood.
Alfred Lennon disappeared in February 1944 and returned six months later to find Julia pregnant by another man. At four years old, John had to choose between his parents and stayed with his mother, but he often visited his aunt, Aunt Mimi.
Julia’s repeated trips to Aunt Mimi’s house sparked Lennon’s music interest despite his family’s complexity. Julia, an Elvis Presley fan, taught him the banjo and music throughout his youth.
In elementary school, Lennon attended Liverpool’s Dovedale elementary School. From 1952 until 1957, he studied at Quarry Bank High School in the same city, recognised for his laid-back style and humour.
Lennon got his first guitar at 16 from his mother. Julia encouraged his musical ambitions, but Aunt Mimi was sceptical, claiming that music would not be profitable.
The Beatles and John Lennon
Lennon started performing music aged 15. He formed The Quarrymen, named after his school, in September 1956. Lennon encouraged Paul McCartney to join his band after seeing him play with The Quarrymen.
McCartney introduced Lennon to George Harrison, The Beatles’ guitarist. The Beatles formed in 1960 with Stuart Sutcliffe, an art school classmate, as bassist and Pete Best as drummer.
A year later, when playing at a Liverpool club, they met Brian Epstein, who would manage them and get them an EMI deal. Ringo Starr, the Beatles’ new drummer, recorded “Love Me Do,” their first song, in October 1962.
“Please Please Me,” “She Loves You,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” topped UK charts, boosting The Beatles’ fame.
Before their manager, Epstein, died of a sleeping pill overdose, their celebrity peaked. After Epstein’s death, The Beatles’ music struggled.
The Beatles had chart-topping successes including “Yellow Submarine” (1968) and “Let It Be” (1970) before their disbandment in September 1969, when Lennon left.
McCartney’s departure from The Beatles announced their dissolution in April 1970.
Solo Career, Yoko Ono
After the Beatles, John Lennon collaborated creatively with his wife, Yoko Ono. After The Beatles broke up, Lennon published “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.”
Despite leaving The Beatles, Lennon produced successful compositions. The 1971 song “Imagine,” was one of his best.
Lennon and Yoko Ono moved to the US in September 1971 despite Nixon’s threats to deport them for their Vietnam War involvement. In 1976, two years after Nixon’s resignation, Lennon and Ono received permanent US residence.
Their marriage was strained by May Pang, their personal assistant. Yoko Ono let Lennon live with Pang before they reunited.
After multiple miscarriages, Yoko Ono had her first child, Sean Lennon, with Lennon. Sean was Lennon’s second kid after Julian, born during his first marriage to Cynthia.
After a 1980 absence to care for his wife and kid, Sean, Lennon returned to music with “Double Fantasy.” On December 8, 1980, admirer Mark David Chapman killed Lennon weeks after the album’s release.
Lennon was shot shortly after entering a vehicle with his wife. Chapman fired four close-range rounds into Lennon’s back as they went towards their flat. Roosevelt Hospital in New York declared Lennon dead after he was brought there.
A day after Lennon’s death, Yoko Ono stated she would cremate him. His ashes were thrown at Central Park’s Strawberry Fields Memorial, dedicated to John Lennon.
John Lennon’s music, art, and culture continue to inspire generations. His peace efforts and music legacy make him a worldwide icon.