John Lennon

John Lennon

creator of 'Beatles'

Background:

“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I don’t know what will go
first—Rock and Roll or Christianity. We’re more popular than Jesus now. Jesus
was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it
that ruins it for me.” John Lennon
Pop star, composer, songwriter, and recording artist John Lennon, born in 1940,
died in 1980, received his first superstardom as part of the legendary British
music group The Beatles. A former member of The Quarrymen, he was the Beatles
rhythm guitarist, keyboard player, and vocalist, and as a co-worker in the
Lennon–McCartney song-writing team, he heavily influenced the growth of rock
music, pushing it towards more advanced multi-layered arrangements, mature
lyrical sentiments, and musical eclecticism.
Recognized as one of the greatest music icons of the 20th century, Lennon had
penned numerous hit singles and albums. With his wife Yoko Ono, he made a name
for himself in the music industry with his biggest hit, “Imagine” (1971), that
was an anthem for anti-war movements, and the successful live album Live Peace
In Toronto (1969).

One of BBC’s “100 Greatest Britons of all time” (2002), Lennon was also
well-known for creating controversy. In 1966, he became headlines after calling
the Beatles phenomenon ”more popular than Jesus,” which earned serious protests
from conventional groups in the United States Bible Belt. The groups publicly
flamed Beatles albums and memorabilia. In 1968, he shared notoriety with his
wife Ono for being arrested of cannabis possession. On a more positive note,
Lennon is well-remembered as an anti-war activist.

As for his private life, Lennon had been married twice. He first married Cynthia
Powell, with whom he had a son, but the marriage ended in divorced in 1968 due
to a love affair with Yoko Ono. A year after the divorce, Lennon married Ono,
but the couple later became estranged. He lived in Los Angeles with personal
assistant May Pang and Ono romanced guitarist David Spinozza. In 1975, they
reconciled and welcomed their son, Sean Taro Ono Lennon, that same year. Lennon
lived happily with Ono until his death in 1980.


Trouble Maker

Childhood and Family:

In Liverpool, Merseyside, England, John Winston Lennon, who would later be
famous as John Lennon, was born on October 9, 1940. He was raised by his
parents, Fred Lennon (merchant seaman) and Julia Lennon (died of a car accident
in 1957), until his dad abandoned the family when John was only three years old
(some sources mention five). After the separation, young John went to live with
his aunt, Mimi Smith, and his uncle, George, in a home in Liverpool. A product
of a broken home, John was a prankster and trouble maker from childhood.

A Liverpool native, John was educated at Dovedale Primary School, Kent Middle
School, and Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool. With the help of his
headmaster and his aunt, in 1957, he was accepted into the Liverpool College of
Art, but later quit due to the school’s conventionality.

John Lennon had two marriages in his life time. He first married Cynthia Powell,
whom he met while at the Liverpool College of Art, on August 23, 1962. He
divorced his wife of six years to marry his lover, the Tokyo-born Yoko Ono, on
March 20, 1969, in Gibraltar. The couple spent their honeymoon in Amsterdam in a
“Bed-In” for peace. John and Ono began their love affair in 1968 after John
returned from India. From the marriages, John had two sons, John Charles Julian
Lennon (born on April 8, 1963, mother Cynthia Powell) and Sean Taro Ono Lennon
(born on October 9, 1975, mother Yoko Ono). He also had a step-daughter named
Kyoko Cox from Yoko Ono’s previous marriage with Tony Cox.

After a five-year hiatus from the music scene, John and his wife Ono made their
comeback with the album Double Fantasy, but within weeks of their return, at
10:50 p.m. on December 8, 1980, John was shot to death by a crazed fan of The
Beatles, Mark David Chapman, in front of John’s residence.


The Beatles

Career:

Born to parents who had musical backgrounds and experiences although they never
pursued music professionally, John Lennon developed his early interest in music
by learning the banjo from his mother, and later played the guitar. A drop-out
student from the Liverpool College of Art, Lennon enjoyed music with a heavy
influence of American Rock ‘n’ Roll and such musicians as Elvis Presley, Buddy
Holly, Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Before forming the legendary band The
Beatles, Lennon started out by playing music with his first band called The
Quarrymen (named after his alma mater, Quarry Bank School). In 1957, Paul
McCartney and George Harrison joined the group and changed the name into Johnny
and The Moondogs, and then The Silver Beetles, to The Beatles in 1962 with an
additional member, Ringo Starr.

Signed by EMI in 1962, The Beatles soon became a phenomenon in England and
throughout Europe with such hits singles as “Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me,”
and within two years, the band had broken into the American market and achieved
their international stardom thanks to the music written by Lennon and McCartney,
one of the most influential singer-songwriter-musicians of the 20th century. In
1965, Queen Elizabeth granted all four Beatles M.B.E. medals for significance
revenues from their record sales.

The Beatles were so famous at that time that they were hired to star in two
films helmed by Richard Lester, a humorous faux-documentary A Hard Day’s Night
(1964) and the James Bond spoof Help (1965). Additionally, they provided their
voices in the 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine and appeared in the BBC film
Magical Mystery Tour (1967). As for Lennon, aside from his appearance with his
band mates, he rejoined Lester for the war/comedy movie How I Won the War
(1967), costarring with Michael Crawford, and had a guest role as a lavatory
attendant in an episode of “Not Only... But Also” (1966).

In addition to acting, Lennon and The Beatles continued to embark on their live
tour until 1966 when they were bombarded with protests from the southern U.S.
Bible Belt area. Conventional groups publicly burned Beatles’ records and
memorabilia reacting on the Lennon’s controversial statement that the Beatles
phenomenon was “more popular than Jesus.” Many radio stations hindered Beatles
music and concert venues terminated performances. Displeased with the
experience, the band chose to stop touring and work in the recording studio. The
results were the release of albums like Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,
Magical Mystery Tour, and the White Album. Furthermore, The Beatles began
creating their own “pop clips,” an early form for music videos, which aired on
TV programs.

“I suppose if I had said television was more popular than Jesus, I would have
gotten away with it, but I just happened to be talking to a friend and I used
the words “Beatles” as a remote thing, not as what I think - as Beatles, as
those other Beatles like other people see us. I just said ‘they’ are having more
influence on kids and things than anything else, including Jesus. But I said it
in that way which is the wrong way.” John Lennon in a press conference
addressing the growing turmoil

During the same period, Lennon began his love affair with “conceptual” artist
and musician Yoko Ono and the couple was arrested in 1968 for cannabis
possession. The romance also resulted in a partnership. While still with the
Beatles, Lennon and Ono launched their first two albums, Two Virgins and Life
with The Lions, which all were disappointing. They next effort was Wedding
Album, but it was the live album, the Top Ten hit Live Peace In Toronto (1969),
that put Lennon on the track again. Lennon also recorded three tracks in his
early solo phase, the anti-war anthem “Give Peace a Chance,” “Cold Turkey”
(about his struggles with heroin addiction) and “Instant Karma!” Lennon became
estranged with both fans and fellow Beatles. The Beatles eventually came to an
end in 1970.

After the break up, Lennon, with wife Ono, released the John Lennon/ Plastic Ono
Band album, a raw, brutally personal record that was deeply influenced by Arthur
Janov’s Primal therapy. The album spawned singles like “Well Well Well,”
“Mother,” “God,” and ‘Working Class Hero.” Many think Plastic Ono Band to be a
foremost power on later hard rock and punk music. Lennon gained even more
recognition in 1971 when he launched the most successful solo album Imagine. The
title track became Lennon’s biggest hit and has become an anthem for anti-war
movements.

In 1973, Lennon relocated to America, in which he was almost deported due to his
political views. However, he finally won the right to stay following a four-year
legal fight. In the meantime, his relationship with wife Ono was interrupted
with scandals. When Lennon appeared as a guest star at Elton John’s Thanksgiving
1974 concert, his alienated wife was in the audience, and surprised him
backstage. The couple reconciled in early 1975 and, after they welcomed their
son Sean, Lennon made a decision to retire from his musical career and took on
the roles of househusband and full-time daddy.

Before his tragic death, Lennon planned to return with the new album Double
Fantasy (1980), but his dreams were cut short when he was killed by Mark David
Chapman, a onetime Beatles admirer who was annoyed and envious over Lennon’s
ongoing career. On December 8 that same year, Chapman shot Lennon outside the
Lennon’s Dakota apartment in New York City.

A music legend, Lennon’s work is still remembered. Eight years after his death,
he was honored with a first BMI Film & TV for his theme song and music used in
the TV series “The Wonder Years.” In 1996, he again netted a BMI Film & TV, this
time for the track “Lady Madonna,” a theme song for ‘Grace Under Fire” (1993).
For his bravura effort in the hit “In My Life,” soundtrack of the 1999 serial
“Providence,” Lennon won three BMI Film & TV in 2000, 2002 and 2003. Nine years
before passing away, Lennon was awarded an Academy Award for Best Music for
Original Song Score and a Grammy for Best Original Score Written for a Motion
Picture or Television Special for his outstanding toil in the song ‘Let it Be.”



Awards:

BMI Film & TV: BMI TV Music Award, Providence, 2003
BMI Film & TV: BMI TV Music Award, Providence, 2002
BMI Film & TV: BMI TV Music Award, Providence, 2000
BMI Film & TV: BMI TV Music Award, Grace under Fire, 1996
BMI Film & TV: BMI TV Music Award, The Wonder Years, 1988
Grammy: Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television
Special, Let it Be, 1971
Academy Award: Best Music, Original Song Score, Let it Be, 1971
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