British singer and musician, founder and leader of The Beatles, the mythical Liverpool quartet that dominated the music scene in the 1960s.
During his time in The Beatles, John Lennon contributed to the band his creative concerns and his radical non-conformism, as opposed to the more commercial vein of Paul McCartney, with whom he shared the lead role in the composition of the songs.
After the dissolution of the group in 1970, he embarked on a new musical stage with such memorable results as the album Imagine (1971).
John Winston Lennon was born in Liverpool on October 9, 1940, while Nazi planes were bombing the city. Liverpool was then a port city, with plenty of country and rhythm and blues records arriving in the luggage of sailors from across the ocean. John grew up listening to records by Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles and Buddy Holly, illustrious representatives of the musical trends of the time.
What bands did John Lennon belong to?
For a few years he studied at the School of Fine Arts and when he turned fifteen he resolved his doubts between painting and music in favor of the latter. In 1956 he met a boy who, like him, only felt fully realized with a guitar in his hands: Paul McCartney. With Paul he formed his first amateur group, The Quarrymen, beginning a period of accelerated learning of the rhythms of rock and roll.
John and Paul dedicated themselves to composing their own songs as if it were entertainment. Two years later George Harrison joined them and they dared to perform in some small venues. They successively called themselves Johnny and the Moondogs and The Nurk Twins.See also:Why is Bruce Springsteen called «The Boss»?
In the early 1960s the group was called Long John and the Silver Beatles, a neat name that was shortened to The Silver Beatles before becoming The Beatles.
The term came from a play on words invented by Lennon himself. Buddy Holly’s backing band was called The Crickets and John was inspired by them to mix the musical term beat and the word beetles.
The Beatles triumph
John, Paul and George agreed to travel to Germany to play at various venues in Hamburg. Anything was better than looking for some boring and poorly paid job in Liverpool. Later, back in their hometown, they became the regular band at The Cavern, a subway club.
In 1961, a record store owner named Brian Epstein discovered them in that joint. It was a revelation; although he had no experience in that field, Epstein offered himself as manager in exchange for 25 percent of the income.
From that moment on, The Beatles’ career skyrocketed to success. With the addition of Ringo Starr as drummer in 1962, the group was already complete and ready to face what was to come: the craziest whirlwind of triumphs and glory.See also:Bon Jovi, one of the best rock bands in history
Lennon was a rebel with concerns and was undoubtedly the most incisive. After being named, in 1965, Knights of the Order of the British Empire, John triggered a scandalous controversy with one of his famous phrases:
«The Beatles are more popular than Jesus Christ».
Brian Epstein died in 1967 from an overdose of barbiturates. Lennon married the Japanese Yoko Ono, an enigmatic woman whose name means «Daughter of the Ocean», in Gibraltar. Both events were milestones of a foretold separation.
Financial problems, artistic jealousy between John and Paul, desires to create without the burden of accommodating the group… all these elements decreed the dissolution of the group in April 1970. Lennon will pronounce the epitaph of the group and of the so-called «prodigious decade» with another succinct and expressive phrase:
«The dream is over»See also:Very simple but at the same time a masterpiece, the Imagine music video
Yoko Ono and John Lennon
For Lennon, the 1970s were to be years of enormous vitality. On the one hand, he became a pacifist activist.
With Yoko he had formed the Plastic Ono Band and with her he released a dozen full-length albums. His talent as a composer and lyricist continued to manifest itself in songs such as «Give peace a chance», «Power to the people» or «Some time in New York City». But his undisputed success was Imagine, an intensely personal LP, released in 1971, which contained the song of the same name, whose text would become a pacifist manifesto in that conflictive decade.
In 1975, when his battle against President Nixon’s administration, which was determined to expel him from the United States as an «undesirable alien», came to a happy end and Sean Ono Lennon, the couple’s only child, was born, John disappeared completely from circulation and devoted himself to family life.
For five years, his public appearances were rare. It seemed that not a single note or word would come out of his restless spirit until then. But in 1980 the famous cloistered beatle came out of his mutism to record with Yoko the album entitled Double Fantasy. In it he touted his undying love for his wife and son with the usual simple, catchy refrains.
See also:Imagine by John Lennon to celebrate Peace Day?
On December 8, 1980, the murderous bullets of a disturbed worshipper ended his life and made him, if he was not already, a god of modernity. As an immediate reaction to his death, Lennon’s fans posthumously took «Imagine» to number one on the charts.
Lennon signed 175 songs during his time with the Beatles, the vast majority of them sharing credits with Paul McCartney. He later released 72 of his own compositions on his solo albums and with Yoko Ono.
Possibly the 10 most emblematic songs by John Lennon:
10. Strawberry fields forever – 1967
9. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – 1967
8. A day in the life – 1967
7. Give peace a chance – 1969
6. Power to the people – 1971
5. Jealous guy – 1971
4. Happy Xmas (war is over) – 1971
3. (Just like) Starting over – 1980
2. Woman – 1980
1. Imagine – 1971