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John Lennon Biography

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John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980), (born John Winston Lennon, known as John Ono Lennon) was an iconic English 20th century rock and roll songwriter and singer, best known as the founding member of The Beatles. He and fellow-Beatle Paul McCartney formed the massively successful Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership throughout the 1960s, writing songs for The Beatles and other artists to record.

Lennon's songwriting was often full of pain and hope. His melodies were at times beautiful and at times dark. His lyrics reflected his personal and career demands, philosophical outlook, his unease with his fame, and current events. As a writing pair, Lennon's hard-edged and McCartney's optimistic styles complemented one another. The Beatles, largely under Lennon and McCartney's influence and with their record producer George Martin, revolutionised rock music with their lyrics, instrumentation, harmony, and electronic effects, changing the nature of popular music at the time and paving the way for the music of the 1970s,  1980s and beyond. In his solo career distinct from The Beatles, Lennon wrote and recorded songs that became icons of the age, such as "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance".

Lennon, on television and in films such as A Hard Day's Night (1964), and by press conferences and interviews, revealed his rebellious, iconoclastic nature and quick, irreverent wit. He channeled his fame and penchant for controversy into his work as a peace activist, artist and author.

He had one son, Julian, with his first wife, Cynthia; he later married his second wife, avant-garde artist Yoko Ono, and they had one son, Sean. John Lennon was murdered in New York City on December 8, 1980 by a deranged fan, as he and Ono returned home from a recording session; he was, and continues to be, mourned throughout the world.

In 2002, the BBC polled the British public about the 100 Greatest Britons of all time. Respondents voted Lennon into eighth place.

Lennon is alleged to have slapped his first wife, Cynthia, in the early years of their relationship, as she claimed in her book, John. The rise of Beatlemania and rigours of touring only furthered the strain on the relationship. He was also distant to his son, Julian, who felt closer to McCartney than to him. As the younger Lennon later said, "I've never really wanted to know the truth about how dad was with me. There was some very negative stuff talked about me... like when he said I'd come out of a whiskey bottle on a Saturday night. Stuff like that. You think, where's the love in that? Paul and I used to hang about quite a bit... more than dad and I did. We had a great friendship going and there seems to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and my dad."

John is quoted as saying: "Sean is a planned child, and therein lies the difference. I don't love Julian any less as a child. He's still my son, whether he came from a bottle of whiskey or because they didn't have pills in those days. He's here, he belongs to me, and he always will."

According to Cynthia, after the break-up with John, Paul visited Cynthia and jokingly suggested marriage. He is reported as saying, "How's about you and me, Cyn?" After that visit, he did not stay in touch with her, and in her book John, she published a copy of the first postcard from Paul — after 17 years of no contact — that he sent to her.

In the last major interview of his life conducted in September 1980, three months before his death — published in the January 1981 issue of Playboy— Lennon said that he'd always been very macho and had never questioned his chauvinistic attitudes towards women until he met Yoko Ono. By the end of his life, he had embraced the role of househusband and even said that he had taken on the role of wife and mother in their relationship. While Lennon was always distant with his first son (Julian) he was very close to his second son (Sean), and called him "my pride". Lennon also spoke about having a child with Ono: "We were both finally unselfish enough to want to have a child."

In the same interview, Lennon said he was trying to re-establish a connection with the then 17-year-old Julian, and confidently predicted that "Julian and I will have a relationship in the future."

Both Julian and Sean Lennon went on to have recording careers years after their father's death.

Yoko Ono was pregnant with what would be their only child, after several previous unsuccessful pregnancies, three miscarriages with John. Lennon — regretful of the limited relationship he had with first son Julian — retired from music and dedicated himself to family life.

This was made easier in 1976 when his US immigration status was finally resolved favourably, after a years-long battle with the Nixon administration that included an FBI investigation involving surveillance, wiretaps, and agents literally following Lennon around as he travelled. Lennon claimed the investigation was politically motivated. With the departure of Nixon from the White House, the administration of his successor, Gerald Ford, showed little interest in continuing the battle.

When Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as President on January 20, 1977, John and Yoko were invited to attend the Inaugural Ball, signalling the end of hostilities between the U.S. government and Lennon. After this appearance, Lennon was rarely seen in public for the next 3 1/2 years, until his 1980 comeback.

Throughout his solo career, Lennon appeared on his own albums (as well as those of other artists like Elton John) under such pseudonyms as Dr Winston O'Boogie, Mel Torment (a play on singer Mel Tormé), and The Reverend Fred Gherkin. He and Yoko (as Ada Gherkin "ate a gherkin", and other sobriquets) also travelled under such names, thus avoiding unwanted public attention.

Numerous biographies of John Lennon have been published. Notable are Lennon: The Definitive Biography by Ray Coleman and the relentlessly hostile The Lives of John Lennon by Albert Goldman.

John Lennon wrote three books himself: John Lennon: In His Own Write, A Spaniard in the Works, and Skywriting by Word of Mouth (the last published posthumously). A personal sketchbook with Lennon's familiar cartoons illustrating definitions of Japanese words, Ai: Japan Through John Lennon's Eyes, was published posthumously. The Beatles Anthology also contains writings, drawings, and interview transcripts by Lennon, along with the other three Beatles.
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