John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles and, with Paul McCartney, formed one of the most successful songwriting partnerships of the 20th century.
Born and raised in Liverpool, Lennon became involved as a teenager in the skiffle craze; his first band, The Quarrymen, evolved into The Beatles in 1960. As the group began to undergo the disintegration that led to their break-up towards the end of that decade, Lennon launched a solo career that would span the next, punctuated by critically acclaimed albums, including John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, and iconic songs such as “Give Peace a Chance” and “Imagine”.
Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, his writing, his drawings, on film, and in interviews, and he became controversial through his peace activism. He moved to New York City in 1971, where his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a lengthy attempt by Richard Nixon’s administration to deport him, while his songs were adapted as anthems by the anti-war movement. Lennon disengaged himself from the music business in 1975 to devote time to his family, but reemerged in 1980 with a new album, Double Fantasy. He was murdered three weeks after its release.
As of 2010, Lennon’s solo album sales in the United States exceed 14 million units, and as writer, co-writer or performer, he is responsible for 27 number one singles on the US Hot 100 chart.a In 2002, a BBC poll on the 100 Greatest Britons voted him eighth, and in 2008, Rolling Stone ranked him the fifth greatest singer of all time. He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
Strawberry Fields Memorial to John Lennon in Central Park, New York
Music historians Schinder and Schwartz, writing of the transformation in popular music styles that took place between the 1950s and the 1960s, say that the Beatles’ influence cannot be overstated: having “revolutionized the sound, style, and attitude of popular music and opened rock and roll’s doors to a tidal wave of British rock acts”, the group then “spent the rest of the 1960s expanding rock’s stylistic frontiers”. Liam Gallagher, his group Oasis among the many who acknowledge the band’s influence, identifies Lennon as a hero; in 1999 he named his first child Lennon Gallagher in tribute. Lennon’s iconic songs came to inspire and symbolize the ideals of the masses[who?]. On National Poetry Day in 1999, after conducting an extensive poll to identify the UK’s favourite song lyric, the BBC announced “Imagine” the winner.