The Life and Career of John Lennon

Growing up in Liverpool, John Lennon predicted his future as a popular musician. A chance encounter with a young Paul McCartney helped form one of the most iconic songwriting duos of all time. After many successful – and even controversial – years with The Beatles, the band broke up and each member followed a solo career. Lennon’s post-Beatle years were filled with music, activism and family life with his new wife, Yoko Ono. Finally, his life was cut short when an assassin gunned him down outside his New York apartment, a crime that spurred a torrent of grief around the world. In this video, WatchMojo.com will be exploring the life and career of John Lennon.
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Profile of John Lennon


Born October 9th, 1940, John Lennon grew up in Liverpool, England. After telling his family he would one day be a famous musician, his mother bought him his first guitar in 1957.

Dynamic Duo


It didn’t take long for Lennon to start his first band. At The Quarrymen’s second concert, Lennon met a 15-year-old Paul McCartney, and he quickly joined the band. This initiated one of the most successful songwriting partnerships of all time, which endured for more than a decade.

Birth of The Beatles


Once the lineup of the Quarrymen was solidified in August 1960, The Beatles were born. Lennon was considered by all to be the leader of the group, due to his age and quick wit.

First Marriage and First Hit


Lennon married fellow art student Cynthia Powell in August 1962 amid extensive touring with The Beatles. Just two months later, the band’s first single, “Love Me Do,” was released to moderate success. Their debut album, “Please Please Me,” was recorded in February 1963, and marked the start of The Beatles’ mainstream success. Due to this triumph, Lennon was on tour when his first son, Julian, was born in April ‘63.

The Ed Sullivan Show


The Beatles made their legendary American TV debut on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964, which carried Beatlemania to the U.S. and made them international superstars. The following two years saw the band tour, write and produce films. Lennon nurtured his creativity by continually drawing and creating poetry, and by writing two books.

Drugs and Music


By 1966, Lennon had grown disenchanted and considered leaving The Beatles. It was also around this time he made the infamous, “We’re more popular than Jesus,” remark that caused backlash against him and the band. After being accidentally introduced to LSD, Lennon spent much of the year under its effects, and this drastically affected his songwriting. The seminal 1967 Beatles’ album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” is a result of this, where Lennon’s dreamlike lyrics contrast sharply with his earlier work.

The Yoko Years


Later that year, the band was devastated by the death of their manager, Brian Epstein. During this period, Lennon continued his experimentation with drugs, and began an affair with artist Yoko Ono that eventually led to their marriage in March of 1969. The pair recorded three experimental albums together, and formed the Plastic Ono Band in 1969.

Beatle Breakup


During that year, Lennon and Ono held two bed-ins for peace, and he released several songs including the anti-war anthem, “Give Peace a Chance.” By September of 1969, Lennon had quietly decided to leave The Beatles.

Solo Music and Activism


Lennon’s solo debut, “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band,” was released in 1970, and his follow-up, “Imagine,” came out a year later. Imagine’s title track became another popular protest song against war, and the subsequent release of “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” with Ono revealed more of Lennon’s political activism.

Lost Weekend


The period between 1972 and ‘75 saw Lennon release four albums, including “Mind Games,” and “Walls and Bridges.” He separated from Yoko Ono in 1973, and engaged in what he called his “lost weekend;” an 18-month period when he rekindled relationships with family and friends and had an affair with his personal assistant.

Hit Single and Final Stage Appearance


Lennon’s 1974’s single “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night,” was his only song to reach number one during his lifetime. The next year, he made what would ultimately be his final stage appearance, on the TV special “A Salute to Lew Grade.”

Five-Year Hiatus


After reuniting with Ono, the couple welcomed their first son, Sean, in October 1975. A five-year hiatus from music followed, during which he focused primarily on family. October 1980 saw Lennon return to music with the single, “(Just Like) Starting Over.” Later that year, Lennon and Ono released the ultra-successful “Double Fantasy” album.

Death and Aftermath


The world was shocked when Lennon was assassinated outside his New York apartment building on December 8th, 1980. His death elicited a global torrent of grief, however his musical legacy lives on and continues to inspire each new generation of musicians.
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