In what way did John Lennon's political
beliefs, expressed in so many of his songs and in his public protests,
affect and influence the music and politics of his generation?
John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940 in
Liverpool, England and later became one of the most famous singers and
musicians of this century. He was known not only for his musical
talents with the Beatles and his later solo career but also for his
controversial political beliefs and public protests. His second
marriage to Yoko Ono in 1969, as well as his persistent drug habit,
brought the many faces and attitudes of Lennon to the surface.
Some even blame his marriage to Yoko for the eventual split of the
The Beatles took the world by storm with
their influential rock and roll style and powerful musical
performances. Lennon was one of the group's leading figures and
often took the role of lead vocalist as well as writer of many of the
songs, with the help of his friend, Paul McCartney. John and Paul
met during the fifties and along with George Harrison formed a group
called the Quarrymen. The group went through many changes before
becoming the Beatles. The group started its musical career
playing in local clubs and pubs in Liverpool, and it was in one of
these clubs that the Beatles were discovered by Brian Epstien (who had
surprisingly very little experience in the music business) in the early
sixties. This led to the first record deal with Decca and later
EMI. Ringo Starr was last to join the group after meeting them in
Hamburg in 1960, where he was playing with his band, Rory Storm and the
Through their great music and influential
style, the Beatles became more popular, touring around Europe and
eventually to the United States, where their music was taking the rock
and roll scene by storm. In the eyes of their fans, the Beatles
could do no wrong. Nearly all off their songs became hits.
By the time they reached America in 1964, over two million copies
of the song, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" had been sold. Their continuing success took them into the film industry. The films Hard Day's Night, Help! and Let it be
were all a new direction for the Beatles. Unfortunately, their
film debuts were met with much criticism, with the latter of the films
showing clear signs of a breakdown in communication within the band.
The band began to experience the strains of fame. Tensions
grew within the band, and Paul and John often voiced differing opinions
that resulted in conflicts. Such conflicts and strains led to the
eventual split of the famous group in 1969. Their last memorable
performance together took place on the roof of their headquarters on
Savile Row in London.
The break up of the Beatles was
devastating for the fans, but both Paul and John went on to pursue
successful solo careers. John was a controversial figure for most
of his ensuing solo career. Yoko and he staged many "bed-ins" in
protest against violence and war, and John became a spokesperson for
the peace movement in his actions as well as in his music, producing
some of his best work in the late seventies. Unfortunately John's
life was taken from him on December 1980, when he was shot by Mark
1940, John Lennon born in Liverpool during WWII, reportedly during an air raid.
1943, Marriage of Lennon's parents ended after many struggles.
1952, Lennon started high school at one of Liverpool's better public schools, Quarry Bank Grammar School.
1957, Formed his first band, leading to his first professional performance.
1957, Admitted to the Liverpool College of Art.
1958, John's mother killed by a speeding car.
1958, Met Paul McCartney, and they became good friends. Paul joined John's band, the Quarry Men.
1962 (April), Beatles head for Hamburg to perform in a rock club alongside Gerry and the Pacemakers, and Gene Vincent.
1962 (August), Married Cynthia Powell.
1963 (February), Beatles' first album, Please Please Me, released (recorded in one single night).
1963 (April), Lennon's first child, Julian was born.
1964, Beatles arrived in the United States for the first time.
1965, Beatles met Elvis Presley.
1966, Lennon met Yoko Ono for the first time.
1969, Divorced Cynthia (without informing her), and married Yoko Ono.
1969, Lennon and Ono stage one of their first naked "bed in" protests during their honeymoon in Amsterdam.
1969, Paul McCartney announced that he was leaving the Beatles.
1970, Lennon suffered a nervous breakdown.
1971, Album Imagine was released.
1972, Lennon performed a charity concert
at Madison Square Gardens, to help improve living conditions for
mentally handicapped children.
1973, John and Yoko separated for 14 months.
1974, The High Court of Justice issued an order, officially marking the end of the Beatles.
1975, Sean Ono Taro Lennon was born.
1977, After suffering financial crisis, John appointed Yoko as power of attorney.
1978, Became reclusive, showing the rigors of years of drug abuse, and made very few public appearances.
1980, Assassinated outside his New York apartment by Mark Chapman.
There are many web sites about John Lennon and the Beatles. Here are some of the more notable ones:
Rockmine maintains a general Beatles
page, as well
as The Ultimate
Beatles Link Page with an index of links to hundreds of Beatles-related
sites, including some
interesting sites on each member of the band as well as peripheral
figures and related topics.
The Beatles has background information and
a discography, as well as audio samples and links to current news and related sites from the iMusic Rock Showcase.
The Beatles has much more on the Beatles.
John Lennon click on
John Lennon for a
variety of web sites on Lennon and related topics, including photos and some of his poems and written works.
Lennon Page is a nicely done tribute to Lennon and provides pictures, a biography, album covers, lyrics, quotes and
artwork. Also, see Bagism.com
There are a number of interesting books
about the Beatles and John Lennon. The following are good points
of reference and research and provide a wealth of information about
John Lennon: the Beatles and beyondby
David Wright examines Lennon's childhood, personal life and his career
with the Beatles as well as his solo career. It also outlines his
lasting impression on the musical and political world.
Come Together: John Lennon in his Time by John Wiener is a
similar account of Lennon's life with the Beatles, and his personal life and solo career.
The Lives of John Lennon by
Albert Goldman gives a startling and frank account of Lennon's life.
Goldman conducted thousands of interviews and took almost six
years of research to come up with this look inside the closely guarded
life of Lennon and those around him.
Related Media Articles
Here is a list of some interesting articles found in the media.
Playboy (January 1981): "The
Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono." By David Sheff.
Gives a candid conversation with John and Yoko.
Rolling Stone Magazine(January 21
& February 4, 1971): "Lennon Remembers." By Jann Wenner. This
interview with John Lennon was described as the most provocative,
passionate and profound interview ever given to the press by an
Rolling Stone Magazine (October
15,1981): "The Sad Secrets of an Assassin's Mind." By Murray Kempton.
An article about Lennon's assassin, Mark Chapman.