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Lennon, John Winston Ono (9th October 1940-8th December 1980)

He was a musician and singer-songwriter born in Liverpool, England, supposedly during a German air raid on Merseyside.  His father was a merchant seaman who left when he was five and his mother, Julia, asked his aunt and uncle to take care of him.  The song “Julia” was written for her and he named his eldest son Julian in her memory.

He attended Liverpool College of Art where he would meet his first wife Cynthia Powell, but he eventually dropped out devoting himself entirely to music.  His Aunt Mimi bought him his first guitar saying “The guitar’s all very well John, but you’ll never make a living out of it.”  He later gave her a silver platter with that engraved on it.

He formed The Quarrymen which was named after his school and after adding Paul McCartney and George Harrison they became a rock ‘n’ roll group called Johnny and the Moondogs which became The Silver Beetles and eventually The Beatles.

Along with Paul McCartney they became possibly the most famous songwriting team in the history of popular music with their songs being performed by literally thousands of artists and known throughout the world.

He usually played rhythm guitar and keyboards and, singing lead vocals much of the time, he sometimes used pseudonyms such as Dr. Winston O’Boogie, Mel Torment and The Reverend Fred Gherkin. He was known for being outspoken and at one time when he had said “The Beatles were more popular than Jesus”, their music was banned and concerts cancelled and even the Vatican got involved although accepted his public apology.

After the death of their manager Brian Epstein he moved from his accepted role as leader of the group and became involved with drugs, regularly showing his dislike of the group’s projects such as Let It Be.  He was the first member to leave the group but agreed not to have it announced until the band renegotiated their recording contract and later said “I started the group. I finished it.”

His relationship with Yoko Ono was very well known, often being criticized, and he was the first to break the rule of no girlfriends or wives being allowed in the studio with The Beatles. They were very involved with public protests of Vietnam and the British involvement with Nigeria-Biafra and he returned his MBE to Queen Elizabeth. They married in Gibraltar in 1969 and spent their honeymoon in a “Bed-In for Peace” in Amsterdam.  They repeated this in Montreal and during that time recorded the song “Give Peace a Chance”.

His 1971 solo album Imagine was his most successful, with the title track becoming an anthem for various peace movements.  The Plastic Ono Band which was conceived by John and Yoko prior to the break-up of The Beatles have been credited as being a major influence on hard rock and punk music.

He won his green card to stay in theUSA in 1975 after the Nixon Administration’s deportation proceedings against him, which began in 1972, were cancelled.  In 1975 he moved to Los Angeles with his companion May Pang in what Yoko Ono termed “The Lost Weekend” and he collaborated with Elton John on the hit “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” as well as appearing as a surprise guest with him in concert at Madison Square Garden.

He made his last public appearance in a TV special on 18th April 1975.  His son Sean was born later that year and he and Yoko Ono went into retirement which lasted until 1980 when he released the album Double Fantasy and saw success with the single “(Just Like) Starting Over”.

On 8th December 1980 he was shot by Mark Chapman in front of his home after returning from a recording session.  He had signed a copy of the album for him six hours previously.  A number of memorials have been made in his honour with the best known being the Strawberry Fields Memorial in Central Park, New York.  Liverpool renamed their airport in his name and use the motto “Above us only sky” and the planet 4147 which was discovered in 1983 has also been named in his memory.

Beatles Recordings
If I Fell (John Lennon/Paul McCartney)
Capitol, X-6283, X45037 (US 45)

Got to Get You into My Life (John Lennon/Paul McCartney)
Capitol, 4274, S45-X45624 (US 45 PS)

And I Love Her (John Lennon/Paul McCartney)
Capitol, X-6283, X45039 (US 45)

Helter Skelter (John Lennon/Paul McCartney
Capitol, 4274, S45-X46494 (US 45)

The Beatles with Tony Sheridan recordings
Cry for a Shadow (George Harrison/John Lennon)
MGM K13227 (64-XY-307) (US 45)