John Lennon was born on 9th October, 1940, during a violent air raid over Liverpool in the Second World War. He was raised by an aunt after his father was reported missing at sea, and his mother was unwilling to care for him after she remarried.
John became fascinated with rock and roll at an early age, and was part of a high-school band called The Quarry men. During an early gig he was introduced to Paul McCartney who introduced him in turn to George Harrison. Together they became The Beatles.Later on Ringo Star joined the group.
Together with Paul, John wrote the most enduring music of the 20th century. Early on in their friendship, they made a pact that music written by either of them would bear the stamp “Lennon McCartney.” The rule held, even during the Beatles eventual break-up.
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The Beatles enjoyed amazing success in Britain, beginning in 1963 and in America from 1964.
John became a father for the first time during those early years in Britain. He and his wife, Cynthia had a son, John Charles Julian Lennon in 1963. Julian also went into the music industry as a young adult.
John was one of the most outspoken characters in the music industry during the 1960’s. He complained loudly of the conditions that the poor and sick had to live in while the Beatles were filming “Help!” in the Bahamas. In 1966 he stated that the Beatles were more popular that Jesus. This statement caused an outcry in America, Britain and South Africa in particular.
In 1966 John met Yoko Ono in London after a preview of the Japanese woman’s 9-day art exhibition. Their relationship became intense and John drew Yoko into the Beatles’ music. There was an unwritten rule that each member’s personal relationships were kept apart from the band’s recordings. John and Yoko broke this rule during the recording of The White Album and tensions arose.
After manager Brian Epstein’s death, the group found themselves having to take control of the business side of things. They all found this hard to deal with and damaging mistakes were made.
Lennon reacted by withdrawing further from the Beatles and focussing on his relationship with Yoko. Together they wrote an album in John’s private studio. Together they were called ‘’Plastic Ono Band’’.They released three singles ‘Give Peace A Chance’ Cold Turkey’ and ‘Instant Karma’. The relationship had become public and John’s divorce was underway. In November 1968 Yoko had a miscarriage. They had also been arrested for possession of drugs, marijuana and LSD.
In 1970 the group experienced more trouble a split in the spring that year. Later John said he had no regrets for this decision.
Johns next album ‘Imagine’ was much more successful commercially. And title song became his most popular solo song.
Some officials of the Nixon administration began a specific campaign to have John deported as a convicted drug user. The F.B.I followed him, taped his phone calls and filled plenty of files with notes of his musical and other activities. The case was finally settled in 1975 when a court declared that John’s British marijuana conviction was not grounds for deportation in the American law.
In 1973 John and Yoko separated, she stayed in New York and he went to Los Angeles. On what he later described as a “lost weekend” that lasted 18 months. Drinking heavily John was thrown out of nightclubs and was a popular subject for gossip columns for much of that time. He also released three albums, the fist two “Mind Games” and “Walls and Bridges”; turned away from politics back towards the musical theme of “Imagine”. While neither album was particularly popular, “Walls and Bridges” did bring John his first American No1 single: “Whatever gets you through the night.”
In 1980 he and Yoko wrote 25 songs in a few weeks. The album “Double Fantasy” received mixed reviews; nevertheless, the single “Starting Over” went quickly to No1, and John and Yoko continued to spend many hours in the studio working on their next collection.
Upon getting back home from a recording session on December 8th, 1980, John was shot 5 times by a self-described fan, Mark Chapman, for whom he had signed an autograph earlier that day. He was dead on arrival at Roosevelt Hospital. Crowds gathered outside his home as soon as the news broke, and many people continued their vigil for days, singing “Give Peace a Chance”; “Imagine”, and other of his songs.
Throughout his life, John’s strong sense of justice and his striving for world peace continues to offer a call to action for millions of people throughout the world.
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