John Lennon
Overview
John Winston Lennon, MBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (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
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Along with fellow Beatle Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney
Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE, Hon RAM, FRCM is an English musician, singer-songwriter and composer. Formerly of The Beatles and Wings , McCartney is listed in Guinness World Records as the "most successful musician and composer in popular music history", with 60 gold discs and sales of 100...

, he formed one of the most successful songwriting partnerships of the 20th century.

Born and raised in Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, Lennon became involved as a teenager in the skiffle craze; his first band, The Quarrymen
The Quarrymen
The Quarrymen are a British skiffle and rock and roll group, initially formed in Liverpool in 1956, that eventually evolved into The Beatles in 1960...

, evolved into The Beatles in 1960.
Quotations

For our last number, I'd like to ask your help. The people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, just rattle your jewelry.

Royal Variety Performance in London (4 November 1963) attended by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and Princess Margaret. John had intended to say "fucking jewelry", but was persuaded against doing so by Paul McCartney and the group's manager Brian Epstein|Brian Epstein.

We thought being offered the M. B. E.|M.B.E. [Member of the Order of the British Empire] was as funny as everybody else thought it was. Why? What for? We didn't believe it. It was a part we didn't want. We all met and agreed it was daft.

Quoted by Hunter Davies in The Beatles (1968)

If people take any notice of what we say, we say we’ve been through the drug scene, man, and there’s nothing like being straight.

The Dick Cavett Show (24 September 1971)

Encyclopedia
John Winston Lennon, MBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (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
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Along with fellow Beatle Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney
Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE, Hon RAM, FRCM is an English musician, singer-songwriter and composer. Formerly of The Beatles and Wings , McCartney is listed in Guinness World Records as the "most successful musician and composer in popular music history", with 60 gold discs and sales of 100...

, he formed one of the most successful songwriting partnerships of the 20th century.

Born and raised in Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, Lennon became involved as a teenager in the skiffle craze; his first band, The Quarrymen
The Quarrymen
The Quarrymen are a British skiffle and rock and roll group, initially formed in Liverpool in 1956, that eventually evolved into The Beatles in 1960...

, evolved into The Beatles in 1960. As the group disintegrated towards the end of the decade, Lennon embarked on a solo career that produced the critically acclaimed albums John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was received with high critical praise upon release. Critic Greil Marcus remarked, "John's singing in the last verse of 'God' may be the finest in all of rock." In early 1971, the album reached number eight on the UK and went to number six in the US, spending eighteen...

 and Imagine
Imagine (album)
Imagine is the second album by John Lennon. Recorded and released in 1971, the album tended toward songs that were gentler, more commercial and less avant-garde than those on his critically acclaimed previous album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. The album is considered the most popular of his works...

, and iconic songs such as "Give Peace a Chance
Give Peace a Chance
"Give Peace a Chance" is a song written by John Lennon, originally under the moniker Lennon–McCartney, released as a single in 1969 by the Plastic Ono Band on Apple Records, catalogue Apple 13 in the United Kingdom, Apple 1809 in the United States. It is the first solo single issued by Lennon, and...

" and "Imagine
Imagine (song)
"Imagine" is a song written and performed by the English musician John Lennon. It is the opening track on his album Imagine, released in 1971...

". After his marriage to Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono
is a Japanese artist, musician, author and peace activist, known for her work in avant-garde art, music and filmmaking as well as her marriage to John Lennon...

 in 1969, he changed his name to John Ono Lennon. Lennon disengaged himself from the music business in 1975 to devote time to his infant son Sean
Sean Lennon
is an American singer, songwriter, musician, guitarist and actor. He is the only child of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. His godfather is Sir Elton John.-Early life and education:...

, but re-emerged in 1980 with a new album, Double Fantasy
Double Fantasy
Double Fantasy is an album released by John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, in 1980. Though initially poorly received, the album is notable for its association with Lennon's murder three weeks after its release, whereupon it become a worldwide commercial success, and went on to win the 1981 Album...

. He was murdered three weeks after its release.

Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, his writing, his drawings, on film, and in interviews, becoming controversial through his political and peace activism
Peace activist
This list of peace activists includes people who proactively advocate diplomatic, non-military resolution of political disputes, usually through nonviolent means.A peace activist is an activist of the peace movement.*Jane Addams*Martti Ahtisaari...

. He moved to New York City in 1971, where his criticism of the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 resulted in a lengthy attempt by Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

's administration to deport him, while his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement.

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 25 number-one singles on the US Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

 chart. In 2002, a BBC poll on the 100 Greatest Britons
100 Greatest Britons
100 Greatest Britons was broadcast in 2002 by the BBC. The programme was the result of a vote conducted to determine whom the United Kingdom public considers the greatest British people in history. The series, Great Britons, included individual programmes on the top ten, with viewers having further...

 voted him eighth, and in 2008, Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

 ranked him the fifth-greatest singer of all-time. He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame
Songwriters Hall of Fame
The Songwriters Hall of Fame is an arm of the National Academy of Popular Music. It was founded in 1969 by songwriter Johnny Mercer and music publishers Abe Olman and Howie Richmond. The goal is to create a museum but as of April, 2008, the means do not yet exist and so instead it is an online...

 in 1987 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

 in 1994.

1940–57: Early years

Lennon was born in war-time England, on 9 October 1940 at Liverpool Maternity Hospital, to Julia
Julia Lennon
Julia Lennon was the mother of English musician John Lennon, who was born during her marriage to Alfred Lennon. After complaints to Liverpool's Social Services by her eldest sister, Mimi Smith , she handed over the care of her son to her sister...

 and Alfred Lennon
Alfred Lennon
Alfred "Alf" Lennon was the father of English musician John Lennon. He spent many years in an orphanage—with his sister, Edith—after his father died. He was known as being very witty and musical throughout his life—he sang and played the banjo—but not as being very dependable...

, a merchant seaman
Merchant Navy
The Merchant Navy is the maritime register of the United Kingdom, and describes the seagoing commercial interests of UK-registered ships and their crews. Merchant Navy vessels fly the Red Ensign and are regulated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency...

 who was away at the time of his son's birth. He was named John Winston Lennon after his paternal grandfather, John "Jack" Lennon, and then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

. His father was often away from home but sent regular pay cheques to 9 Newcastle Road, Liverpool, where Lennon lived with his mother, but the cheques stopped when he went absent without leave in February 1944. When he eventually came home six months later, he offered to look after the family, but Julia—by then pregnant with another man's child—rejected the idea. After her sister, Mimi Smith
Mimi Smith
Mary Elizabeth "Mimi" Smith was the maternal aunt and parental guardian of the English musician John Lennon. Mimi was born in Liverpool, England and was the oldest of five daughters. She became a resident trainee nurse at the Woolton Convalescent Hospital, and later worked as a private secretary...

, twice complained to Liverpool's Social Services, Julia handed the care of Lennon over to her. In July 1946, Lennon's father visited Smith and took his son to Blackpool, secretly intending to emigrate to New Zealand with him. Julia followed them—with her partner at the time, 'Bobby' Dykins—and after a heated argument his father forced the five-year-old to choose between them. Lennon twice chose his father, but as his mother walked away, he began to cry and followed her. It would be 20 years before he had contact with his father again.
Throughout the rest of his childhood and adolescence, he lived with his aunt and uncle, Mimi and George Smith, who had no children of their own, at Mendips, 251 Menlove Avenue
251 Menlove Avenue
251 Menlove Avenue, named "Mendips", was the childhood home of John Lennon, singer and songwriter with the Beatles, and is now preserved by the National Trust....

, Woolton
Woolton
Woolton is a suburb of Liverpool, Merseyside, England and a Liverpool City Council Ward. It is located at the south of the city, bordered by Gateacre, Hunts Cross, Allerton and Halewood. At the 2001 Census the population was recorded as 14,836.-History:...

. His aunt bought him volumes of short stories, and his uncle, a dairyman at his family's farm, bought him a mouth organ and engaged him in solving crossword puzzles. Julia visited Mendips on a regular basis, and when he was 11 years old he often visited her at 1 Blomfield Road, Liverpool, where she played him Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

 records, and taught him the banjo, learning how to play "Ain't That a Shame
Ain't That a Shame
"Ain't That a Shame" is a song recorded by Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew, in New Orleans, Louisiana, for Imperial Records and released in 1955. It was previously recorded in 1901 by Silas Leachman. The recording was a hit for Domino, eventually selling a million copies. It reached #1 on the...

" by Fats Domino
Fats Domino
Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino, Jr. is an American R&B and rock and roll pianist and singer-songwriter. He was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Creole was his first language....

.

In September 1980 he talked about his family and his rebellious nature:
He regularly visited his cousin, Stanley Parkes, who lived in Fleetwood
Fleetwood
Fleetwood is a town within the Wyre district of Lancashire, England, lying at the northwest corner of the Fylde. It had a population of 26,840 people at the 2001 Census. It forms part of the Greater Blackpool conurbation. The town was the first planned community of the Victorian era...

. Seven years Lennon's senior, Parkes took him on trips, and to local cinemas. During the school holidays, Parkes often visited Lennon with Leila Harvey, another cousin, often travelling to Blackpool two or three times a week to watch shows. They would visit the Blackpool Tower Circus and see artists such as Dickie Valentine
Dickie Valentine
Dickie Valentine was an English pop singer in the 1950s.-Early life:Valentine was born Richard Maxwell , though Valentine was known as Richard Bryce as his mother later married Bryce and gave her young son the same name. He was born in Marylebone, London...

, Arthur Askey
Arthur Askey
Arthur Bowden Askey CBE was a prominent English comedian.- Life and career :Askey was born at 29 Moses Street, Liverpool, the eldest child and only son of Samuel Askey , secretary of the firm Sugar Products of Liverpool, and his wife, Betsy Bowden , of Knutsford, Cheshire...

, Max Bygraves
Max Bygraves
Max Bygraves OBE is an English comedian, singer, actor and variety performer. He appeared on his own television shows, sometimes performing comedy sketches between songs...

 and Joe Loss
Joe Loss
Joshua Alexander "Joe" Loss LVO OBE was a British musician and founder of the Joe Loss Orchestra.-Life:Loss was born in Spitalfields, London, the youngest of four children. His parents, Israel and Ada Loss, were Russian Jews and first cousins. His father was a cabinet-maker who had an office...

, with Parkes recalling that Lennon particularly liked George Formby. After Parkes's family moved to Scotland, the three cousins often spent their school holidays together there. Parkes recalled, "John, cousin Leila and I were very close. From Edinburgh we would drive up to the family croft at Durness
Durness
Durness is a huge but remote parish in the northwestern Highlands of Scotland, encompassing all the land between the Moine to the East and the Gualin to the West...

, which was from about the time John was nine years old until he was about 16." He was 14 years old when his uncle George died of a liver haemorrhage on 5 June 1955 (aged 52).

Lennon was raised as an Anglican and attended Dovedale Primary School. From September 1952 to 1957, after passing his Eleven-Plus exam, he attended Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool, and was described by Harvey at the time as, "A happy-go-lucky, good-humoured, easy going, lively lad." He often drew comical cartoons which appeared in his own self-made school magazine called The Daily Howl, but despite his artistic talent, his school reports were damning: "Certainly on the road to failure ... hopeless ... rather a clown in class ... wasting other pupils' time."

His mother bought him his first guitar in 1956, an inexpensive Gallotone Champion acoustic for which she "lent" her son five pounds and ten shillings on the condition that the guitar be delivered to her own house, and not Mimi's, knowing well that her sister was not supportive of her son's musical aspirations. As Mimi was sceptical of his claim that he would be famous one day, she hoped he would grow bored with music, often telling him, "The guitar's all very well, John, but you'll never make a living out of it". On 15 July 1958, when Lennon was 17 years old, his mother, walking home after visiting the Smiths' house, was struck by a car and killed.

Lennon failed all his GCE
General Certificate of Education
The General Certificate of Education or GCE is an academic qualification that examination boards in the United Kingdom and a few of the Commonwealth countries, notably Sri Lanka, confer to students. The GCE traditionally comprised two levels: the Ordinary Level and the Advanced Level...

 O-level examinations, and was accepted into the Liverpool College of Art
Liverpool College of Art
Liverpool College of Art is located at 68 Hope Street, in Liverpool, England. It is a Grade II listed building.The building is currently owned by Liverpool John Moores University housing its School of Social Science....

 only after his aunt and headmaster intervened. Once at the college, he started wearing Teddy Boy
Teddy Boy
The British Teddy Boy subculture is typified by young men wearing clothes that were partly inspired by the styles worn by dandies in the Edwardian period, styles which Savile Row tailors had attempted to re-introduce in Britain after World War II...

 clothes and acquired a reputation for disrupting classes and ridiculing teachers. As a result, he was excluded from the painting class, then the graphic arts course, and was threatened with expulsion for his behaviour, which included sitting on a nude model's lap during a life drawing
Figure drawing
In art, a figure drawing is a study of the human form in its various shapes and body postures - sitting, standing or even sleeping. It is a study or stylized depiction of the human form, with the line and form of the human figure as the primary objective, rather than the subject person. It is a...

 class. He failed an annual exam, despite help from fellow student and future wife Cynthia Powell, and was "thrown out of the college before his final year."

1957–70: The Quarrymen to The Beatles

1957–65: Formation, commercial breakout, and touring years

The Beatles evolved from Lennon's first band, the Quarrymen. Named after Quarry Bank High School, the group was established by him in September 1956 when he was 15, and began as a skiffle group. By the summer of 1957 the Quarrymen played a "spirited set of songs" made up of half skiffle, and half rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

. Lennon first met Paul McCartney at the Quarrymen's second performance, held in Woolton on 6 July at the St. Peter's Church garden fête, after which McCartney was asked to join the band.

McCartney says that Aunt Mimi: "was very aware that John's friends were lower class", and would often patronise him when he arrived to visit Lennon. According to Paul's brother Mike, McCartney's father was also disapproving, declaring Lennon would get his son "into trouble"; although he later allowed the fledgling band to rehearse in the McCartneys' front room at 20 Forthlin Road
20 Forthlin Road
20 Forthlin Road is a National Trust property in south Liverpool, Merseyside, England. It is the house in which Paul McCartney lived for several years before he rose to fame with The Beatles. It was also the home of his brother Mike.- History :...

. During this time, the 18-year-old Lennon wrote his first song, "Hello Little Girl
Hello Little Girl
"Hello Little Girl" is the first song ever written by John Lennon. According to Lennon, he drew on an old "Thirties or Forties song" that his mother sang to him . Written in 1957, it was used as one of the songs at The Beatles unsuccessful Decca audition in 1962...

", a UK top 10 hit for The Fourmost
The Fourmost
The Fourmost were an English Merseybeat band that recorded in the 1960s. Their biggest UK hit single was "A Little Loving" in 1964.-Biography:...

 nearly five years later.

George Harrison
George Harrison
George Harrison, MBE was an English musician, guitarist, singer-songwriter, actor and film producer who achieved international fame as lead guitarist of The Beatles. Often referred to as "the quiet Beatle", Harrison became over time an admirer of Indian mysticism, and introduced it to the other...

 joined the band as lead guitarist, even though Lennon thought Harrison (at 14 years old) was too young to join the band, so McCartney engineered a second audition on the upper deck of a Liverpool bus, where Harrison played "Raunchy" for Lennon. Stuart Sutcliffe
Stuart Sutcliffe
Stuart Fergusson Victor Sutcliffe was a Scottish artist and musician, best known as the original bass player of The Beatles. Sutcliffe left the band to pursue a career as an artist, having previously attended the Liverpool College of Art...

, Lennon's friend from art school, later joined as bassist. Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Sutcliffe became "The Beatles" in early 1960. In August that year The Beatles, engaged for a 48-night residency in Hamburg
The Beatles in Hamburg
The Beatles members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best regularly performed at different clubs in Hamburg, Germany, during the period from August 1960 to December 1962; a chapter in the group's history which honed their performance skills, widened their...

, Germany, and desperately in need of a drummer, asked Pete Best
Pete Best
Pete Best is a British musician, best known as the original drummer in The Beatles. He was born in the city of Madras, British India...

 to join them. Lennon was now 19, and his aunt, horrified when he told her about the trip, pleaded with him to continue his art studies instead. After the first Hamburg residency, the band accepted another in April 1961, and a third in April 1962. Like the other band members, Lennon was introduced to Preludin while in Hamburg, and regularly took the drug, as well as amphetamines, as a stimulant during their long, overnight performances.

Brian Epstein
Brian Epstein
Brian Samuel Epstein , was an English music entrepreneur, and is best known for being the manager of The Beatles up until his death. He also managed several other musical artists such as Gerry & the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Cilla Black, The Remo Four & The Cyrkle...

, The Beatles' manager from 1962, had no prior experience of artist management, but nevertheless had a strong influence on their early dress code and attitude on stage. Lennon initially resisted his attempts to encourage the band to present a professional appearance, but eventually complied, saying, "I'll wear a bloody balloon if somebody's going to pay me". McCartney took over on bass after Sutcliffe decided to stay in Hamburg, and drummer Ringo Starr
Ringo Starr
Richard Starkey, MBE better known by his stage name Ringo Starr, is an English musician and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for The Beatles. When the band formed in 1960, Starr was a member of another Liverpool band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. He became The Beatles' drummer in...

 replaced Best, completing the four-piece line-up that would endure until the group's break-up in 1970. The band's first single, "Love Me Do
Love Me Do
"Love Me Do" is The Beatles' first single, backed by "P.S. I Love You" and released on 5 October 1962. When the single was originally released in the United Kingdom, it peaked at number seventeen; in 1982 it was re-issued and reached number four...

", was released in October 1962 and reached #17 on the British charts. They recorded their debut album, Please Please Me
Please Please Me
Please Please Me is the debut album by the English rock band The Beatles. Parlophone rush-released the album on 22 March 1963 in the United Kingdom to capitalise on the success of singles "Please Please Me" and "Love Me Do" .Of the album's fourteen songs, eight were written by Lennon–McCartney...

, in under 10 hours on 11 February 1963, a day when Lennon was suffering the effects of a cold, which is evident in the vocal on the last song to be recorded that day, Twist and Shout
Twist and Shout
"Twist and Shout" is a song written by Phil Medley and Bert Russell. It was originally titled "Shake It Up, Baby" and recorded by the Top Notes and then covered by The Isley Brothers. It was covered by The Beatles with John Lennon on the lead vocals and originally released on their first album...

. The Lennon/McCartney songwriting partnership yielded eight of its fourteen tracks. With few exceptions—one being the album title itself—Lennon had yet to bring his love of wordplay to bear on his song lyrics, saying: "We were just writing songs ... pop songs with no more thought of them than that–to create a sound. And the words were almost irrelevant". In a 1987 interview, McCartney said that the other Beatles idolised John: "He was like our own little Elvis ... We all looked up to John. He was older and he was very much the leader; he was the quickest wit and the smartest".

The Beatles achieved mainstream success in the UK during the beginning of 1963. Lennon was on tour when his first son, Julian
Julian Lennon
John Charles Julian Lennon is an English musician, songwriter, actor, and photographer. He is the son of John Lennon and Lennon's first wife, Cynthia Powell. Beatles manager Brian Epstein was his godfather. He has a younger half-brother, Sean Lennon. Lennon was named after his paternal...

, was born in April. During their Royal Variety Show performance, attended by the Queen Mother and other British royalty, Lennon poked fun at his audience: "For our next song, I'd like to ask for your help. For the people in the cheaper seats, clap your hands ... and the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewellery." After a year of Beatlemania in the UK
Beatlemania in the United Kingdom
The phenomenon known as Beatlemania originated in the United Kingdom, birthplace of The Beatles, when the band first realised enormous popularity there in late 1962. Returning from a highly formative two-year residency in Germany, The Beatles achieved a commercial breakthrough with their second UK...

, the group's historic February 1964 US debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show is an American TV variety show that originally ran on CBS from Sunday June 20, 1948 to Sunday June 6, 1971, and was hosted by New York entertainment columnist Ed Sullivan....

 marked their breakthrough to international stardom. A two-year period of constant touring, moviemaking, and songwriting followed, during which Lennon wrote two books, In His Own Write
In His Own Write
In His Own Write is a book from 1964 by John Lennon. The book consists of short stories and line drawings, often surreal and always nonsensical. It is notable in that it was the first solo Beatle project in any form...

 and A Spaniard in the Works
A Spaniard in the Works
A Spaniard in the Works is a book from 1965 by John Lennon. The book consists of nonsensical stories and drawings similar to the style of his previous book, 1964's In His Own Write....

. The Beatles received recognition from the British Establishment when they were appointed Members of the Order of the British Empire
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 in the Queen's Birthday Honours
Queen's Birthday Honours
The Queen's Birthday Honours is a part of the British honours system, being a civic occasion on the celebration of the Queen's Official Birthday in which new members of most Commonwealth Realms honours are named. The awards are presented by the reigning monarch or head of state, currently Queen...

 of 1965.

Lennon grew concerned that fans attending Beatles' concerts were unable to hear the music above the screaming of fans, and that the band's musicianship was beginning to suffer as a result. Lennon's "Help!
Help! (song)
"Help!" is a song by The Beatles that served as the title song for both the 1965 film and its soundtrack album. It was also released as a single, and was number one for three weeks in both the United States and the United Kingdom....

" expressed his own feelings in 1965: "I meant it ... It was me singing 'help'". He had put on weight (he would later refer to this as his "Fat Elvis" period), and felt he was subconsciously seeking change. The following January he was unknowingly introduced to LSD
LSD
Lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD or LSD-25, also known as lysergide and colloquially as acid, is a semisynthetic psychedelic drug of the ergoline family, well known for its psychological effects which can include altered thinking processes, closed and open eye visuals, synaesthesia, an...

 when a dentist, hosting a dinner party attended by Lennon, Harrison and their wives, spiked the guests' coffee with the drug. When they wanted to leave, their host revealed what they had taken, and strongly advised them not to leave the house because of the likely effects. Later, in an elevator at a nightclub, they all believed it was on fire: "We were all screaming ... hot and hysterical."
A few months later in March, during an interview with Evening Standard reporter Maureen Cleave
Maureen Cleave
Maureen Cleave is an English journalist who worked for the London Evening News and London Evening Standard in the 1960s, conducting interviews with famous musicians of the era, including Bob Dylan and John Lennon....

, Lennon remarked, "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink ... We're more popular than Jesus now—I don't know which will go first, rock and roll or Christianity." The comment went virtually unnoticed in England but caused great offence in the US
More popular than Jesus
Angry reactions flared up in August 1966, after John Lennon's remark that The Beatles had become "more popular than Jesus" was quoted by the American teen magazine, Datebook. Lennon originally made the remark when an English newspaper reporter, Maureen Cleave, interviewed him at home for a...

 when quoted by a magazine there five months later. The furore that followed—burning of Beatles' records, Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

 activity, and threats against Lennon—contributed to the band's decision to stop touring.

1966–70: Studio years, break-up and solo work

Deprived of the routine of live performances after their final commercial concert on 29 August 1966, Lennon felt lost and considered leaving the band. Since his involuntary introduction to LSD in January, he had made increasing use of the drug, and was almost constantly under its influence for much of the year." According to biographer Ian MacDonald, Lennon's continuous experience with LSD during the year brought him "close to erasing his identity
Egolessness
In psychology, egolessness is an emotional state where one feels no ego ; of having no distinct being apart from the world around oneself...

". 1967 saw the release of "Strawberry Fields Forever
Strawberry Fields Forever
"Strawberry Fields Forever" is a song by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and attributed to the Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership. It was inspired by Lennon's memories of playing in the garden of a Salvation Army house named "Strawberry Field" near his childhood home."Strawberry Fields...

", hailed by TIME magazine for its "astonishing inventiveness", and the group's landmark album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by the English rock band The Beatles, released on 1 June 1967 on the Parlophone label and produced by George Martin...

, which revealed Lennon's lyrics contrasting strongly with the simple love songs of the Lennon/McCartney's early years.

In August, after having been introduced to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi , born Mahesh Prasad Varma , developed the Transcendental Meditation technique and was the leader and guru of the TM movement, characterised as a new religious movement and also as non-religious...

, the group attended a weekend of personal instruction at his Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental Meditation refers to the Transcendental Meditation technique, a specific form of mantra meditation, and to the Transcendental Meditation movement, a spiritual movement...

 seminar in Bangor, Wales, and were informed of Epstein's death during the seminar. "I knew we were in trouble then", Lennon said later. "I didn't have any misconceptions about our ability to do anything other than play music, and I was scared". They later travelled to Maharishi's ashram
Ashram
Traditionally, an ashram is a spiritual hermitage. Additionally, today the term ashram often denotes a locus of Indian cultural activity such as yoga, music study or religious instruction, the moral equivalent of a studio or dojo....

 in India for further guidance, where they composed most of the songs for The Beatles
The Beatles (album)
The Beatles is the ninth official album by the English rock group The Beatles, a double album released in 1968. It is also commonly known as "The White Album" as it has no graphics or text other than the band's name embossed on its plain white sleeve.The album was written and recorded during a...

 and Abbey Road.

The anti-war, black comedy How I Won the War
How I Won the War
How I Won the War is a black comedy film directed by Richard Lester, released in 1967. The film stars Michael Crawford as bungling British Army Officer Lieutenant Earnest Goodbody, with John Lennon , Jack MacGowran , Roy Kinnear and Lee Montague as soldiers under his command...

, featuring Lennon's only appearance in a non–Beatles' full-length film, was shown in cinemas in October 1967. McCartney organised the group's first post-Epstein project, the self-written, -produced and -directed television film Magical Mystery Tour
Magical Mystery Tour (film)
Magical Mystery Tour is an hour-long British television film starring The Beatles that originally aired on BBC1 on 26 December 1967...

, released in December that year. While the film itself proved to be their first critical flop, its soundtrack release, featuring Lennon's acclaimed, Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson , better known by the pseudonym Lewis Carroll , was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer. His most famous writings are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well as the poems "The Hunting of the...

-inspired "I am the Walrus
I Am the Walrus
"I Am the Walrus" is a 1967 song by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. Lennon claimed he wrote the first two lines on separate acid trips. The song was in the Beatles' 1967 television film and album Magical Mystery Tour, and was the B-side to the #1 hit "Hello,...

", was a success. With Epstein gone, the band members became increasingly involved in business activities, and in February 1968 they formed Apple Corps
Apple Corps
Apple Corps Ltd. is a multi-armed multimedia corporation founded in January 1968 by the members of The Beatles to replace their earlier company and to form a conglomerate. Its name is a pun. Its chief division is Apple Records, which was launched in the same year...

, a multimedia corporation comprising Apple Records
Apple Records
Apple Records is a record label founded by The Beatles in 1968, as a division of Apple Corps Ltd. It was initially intended as a creative outlet for the Beatles, both as a group and individually, plus a selection of other artists including Mary Hopkin, James Taylor, Badfinger, and Billy Preston...

 and several other subsidiary companies. Lennon described the venture as an attempt to achieve, "artistic freedom within a business structure", but his increased drug experimentation and growing preoccupation with Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono
is a Japanese artist, musician, author and peace activist, known for her work in avant-garde art, music and filmmaking as well as her marriage to John Lennon...

, and McCartney's own marriage plans, left Apple in need of professional management. Lennon asked Lord Beeching to take on the role, but he declined, advising Lennon to go back to making records. Lennon approached Allen Klein
Allen Klein
Allen Klein was an American businessman, talent agent and record label executive. His clients included The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.- The accountant :...

, who had managed The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones are an English rock band, formed in London in April 1962 by Brian Jones , Ian Stewart , Mick Jagger , and Keith Richards . Bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts completed the early line-up...

 and other bands during the British Invasion
British Invasion
The British Invasion is a term used to describe the large number of rock and roll, beat, rock, and pop performers from the United Kingdom who became popular in the United States during the time period from 1964 through 1966.- Background :...

. Klein was appointed as Apple’s chief executive by Lennon, Harrison and Starr, but McCartney never signed the management contract.
At the end of 1968, Lennon featured in the film The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus
The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus
The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus is a film released in 1996 of an 11 December 1968 event put together by The Rolling Stones. The event comprised two concerts on a circus stage and included such acts as The Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, and Jethro Tull...

 (not released until 1996) in the role of a Dirty Mac band member. The supergroup
Supergroup (music)
In the late 1960s, the term supergroup was coined to describe "a rock music group whose performers are already famous from having performed individually or in other groups"....

, comprising Lennon, Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton
Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE, is an English guitarist and singer-songwriter. Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and...

, Keith Richards
Keith Richards
Keith Richards is an English musician, songwriter, and founding member of the Rolling Stones. Rolling Stone magazine said Richards had created "rock's greatest single body of riffs", and placed him as the "10th greatest guitarist of all time." Fourteen songs written by Richards and songwriting...

 and Mitch Mitchell
Mitch Mitchell
John Ronald "Mitch" Mitchell was an English drummer, best known for his work in The Jimi Hendrix Experience.-Early life and the Jimi Hendrix Experience:...

, also backed a vocal performance by Ono in the film. Lennon and Ono were married on 20 March 1969, and soon released a series of 14 lithographs called "Bag One" depicting scenes from their honeymoon, eight of which were deemed indecent and most of which were banned and confiscated. Lennon's creative focus continued to move beyond The Beatles and between 1968 and 1969 he and Ono recorded three albums of experimental music together: Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins
Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins
Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins is an album released by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1968. The result of an all-night session of musical experimentation in Lennon's home studio at Kenwood, John and Yoko's debut album is known not only for its avant garde content, but also for its cover...

(known more for its cover than for its music), Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions
Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions
Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions is an album of noise music released by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1969, and the successor to 1968's highly controversial Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins...

 and Wedding Album
Wedding Album
-CD bonus tracks:#"Who Has Seen the Wind?" - 2:05 #*A gentle and melodic folk song featuring lyrics based on the 19th century poem of the same title, written by English poet Christina Rossetti...

. In 1969 they formed The Plastic Ono Band
The Plastic Ono Band
The Plastic Ono Band is a conceptual supergroup formed by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1969 before the dissolution of the Beatles. Among the various other members of the band were Eric Clapton, artist Klaus Voormann, future Yes drummer Alan White, Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, & friends, the Who's...

, releasing Live Peace in Toronto 1969
Live Peace in Toronto 1969
-Side two:-Personnel:* John Lennon — lead vocals, rhythm guitar* Yoko Ono — vocals* Eric Clapton — lead guitar, backing vocals* Klaus Voormann — bass* Alan White — drums* Kim Fowley — spoken introduction-External links:*...

. In protest at Britain's involvement in the Nigerian Civil War
Nigerian Civil War
The Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Nigerian-Biafran War, 6 July 1967–15 January 1970, was a political conflict caused by the attempted secession of the southeastern provinces of Nigeria as the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra...

, Lennon returned his MBE medal to the Queen, though this had no effect on his MBE status, which could not be renounced. Between 1969 and 1970 Lennon released the singles "Give Peace a Chance" (widely adopted as an anti-Vietnam-War anthem in 1969), "Cold Turkey
Cold Turkey
Cold Turkey is a song written by John Lennon, released as a single in 1969 by the Plastic Ono Band on Apple Records, catalogue Apples 1001 in the United Kingdom, Apple 1813 in the United States. It is the second solo single issued by Lennon, and it peaked at #30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #14 on...

" (documenting his withdrawal symptoms after he became addicted to heroin) and "Instant Karma!
Instant Karma!
"Instant Karma!" is a song written by John Lennon, released as a single in 1970 on Apple Records, catalogue Apple 1003 in the United Kingdom, Apple 1818 in the United States. It is the third solo single issued by Lennon, and it peaked at #3 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100 singles...

".

Lennon left the group in September 1969, and agreed not to inform the media while the band renegotiated their recording contract, but he was outraged that McCartney publicised his own departure on releasing his debut solo album
McCartney (album)
McCartney is the debut solo album by Paul McCartney. Apart from Linda McCartney's vocal contributions, McCartney performed the entire album solo...

 in April 1970. Lennon's reaction was, "Jesus Christ! He gets all the credit for it!" He later wrote, "I started the band. I disbanded it. It's as simple as that." In later interviews with Rolling Stone magazine, he revealed his bitterness towards McCartney, saying, "I was a fool not to do what Paul did, which was use it to sell a record." He spoke too of the hostility he perceived the other members had towards Ono, and of how he, Harrison, and Starr "got fed up with being sidemen for Paul ... After Brian Epstein died we collapsed. Paul took over and supposedly led us. But what is leading us when we went round in circles?"

1970–72: Initial solo success and activism

In 1970, Lennon and Ono went through primal therapy with Dr. Arthur Janov
Arthur Janov
Arthur Janov is an American psychologist, psychotherapist, and the creator of primal therapy, a treatment for mental illness that involves repeatedly descending into, feeling, and expressing long-repressed childhood pain. Janov directs a psychotherapy institute called the Primal Center in Santa...

 in Los Angeles, California. Designed to release emotional pain from early childhood, the therapy entailed two half-days a week with Janov for four months; he had wanted to treat the couple for longer, but they felt no need to continue and returned to London. Lennon's emotional debut solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was received with high critical praise upon release. Critic Greil Marcus remarked, "John's singing in the last verse of 'God' may be the finest in all of rock." In early 1971, the album reached number eight on the UK and went to number six in the US, spending eighteen...

 (1970), was received with high praise. Critic Greil Marcus
Greil Marcus
Greil Marcus is an American author, music journalist and cultural critic. He is notable for producing scholarly and literary essays that place rock music in a much broader framework of culture and politics than is customary in pop music journalism.-Life and career:Marcus was born in San Francisco...

 remarked, "John's singing in the last verse of 'God' may be the finest in all of rock." The album featured the songs "Mother
Mother (John Lennon song)
Mother is a song by British musician John Lennon, first released on his 1970 album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. An edited version of the song was issued as a single in the United States on Apple Records, catalogue 1827, about three weeks after the album. The single runs about fifteen seconds...

", in which Lennon confronted his feelings of childhood rejection, and the Dylanesque "Working Class Hero
Working Class Hero
"Working Class Hero" is a song from John Lennon's first post-Beatles solo album, 1970's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.-Theme:The song is a take on the class split of the 1940s and 1950s, and of the 1960s in which he was famous. The song appears to tell the story of someone growing up in the working...

", a bitter attack against the bourgeois social system which, due to the lyric "you're still fucking peasants", fell foul of broadcasters. The same year, Tariq Ali
Tariq Ali
Tariq Ali , , is a British Pakistani military historian, novelist, journalist, filmmaker, public intellectual, political campaigner, activist, and commentator...

's revolutionary political views, expressed when he interviewed Lennon, inspired the singer to write "Power to the People
Power to the People (song)
"Power to the People" is a song written by John Lennon, released as a single in 1971 by John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band on Apple Records, catalogue Apple R5892 in the United Kingdom and Apple 1830 in the United States. It peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #7 on the British singles chart...

". Lennon also became involved with Ali during a protest against Oz magazine's
Oz (magazine)
Oz was first published as a satirical humour magazine between 1963 and 1969 in Sydney, Australia and, in its second and better known incarnation, became a "psychedelic hippy" magazine from 1967 to 1973 in London...

 prosecution for alleged obscenity. Lennon denounced the proceedings as "disgusting fascism", and he and Ono (as Elastic Oz Band) released the single "God Save Us/Do the Oz" and joined marches in support of the magazine.
With Lennon's next album, Imagine (1971), critical response was more guarded. Rolling Stone reported that "it contains a substantial portion of good music" but warned of the possibility that "his posturings will soon seem not merely dull but irrelevant". The album's title track would become an anthem for anti-war movements, while another, "How Do You Sleep?", was a musical attack on McCartney in response to lyrics from Ram
Ram (album)
Ram is an album by Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney, released in 1971, the only album credited to the pair. It was the second of the two albums McCartney released between leaving The Beatles and forming Wings...

 that Lennon felt, and McCartney later confirmed, were directed at him and Ono. However, Lennon softened his stance in the mid-70s and said he had written "How Do You Sleep?" about himself. He said in 1980: "I used my resentment against Paul ... to create a song ... not a terrible vicious horrible vendetta ... I used my resentment and withdrawing from Paul and The Beatles, and the relationship with Paul, to write 'How Do You Sleep'. I don't really go 'round with those thoughts in my head all the time".

Lennon and Ono moved to New York in August 1971, and in December released "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
"Happy Xmas " is a song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono and released in 1971 as a single by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir....

". To advertise the single, they paid for billboards in 12 cities around the world which declared, in the national language, "WAR IS OVER—IF YOU WANT IT". The new year saw the Nixon Administration take what it called a "strategic counter-measure" against Lennon's anti-war propaganda, embarking on what would be a four-year attempt to deport him: embroiled in a continuing legal battle, he was denied permanent residency in the US until 1976.

Recorded as a collaboration with Ono and with backing from the New York band Elephant's Memory
Elephant's Memory
Elephant's Memory was a New York band, most notable for backing John Lennon and Yoko Ono during 1972 on a pair of albums, and a handful of TV and live appearances, including the John Lennon "One To One Concert", with two performances the 30th of August 1972 to benefit the Willowbrook School for...

, Some Time in New York City
Some Time in New York City
Some Time in New York City was released in 1972 and is John Lennon's third post-Beatles album, fifth with Yoko Ono, and third with producer Phil Spector...

 was released in 1972. Containing songs about women's rights, race relations, Britain's role in Northern Ireland, and Lennon's problems obtaining a green card, the album was poorly received—unlistenable, according to one critic. "Woman Is the Nigger of the World
Woman Is the Nigger of the World
"Woman Is the Nigger of the World" is a song written by John Lennon & Yoko Ono and recorded by John Lennon. It was released as a single on Apple Records in the United States and in New Zealand and Japan, but was withdrawn from release in Britain. It peaked at #57 on the Billboard Hot 100, making...

", released as a US single from the album the same year, was televised on 11 May, on The Dick Cavett Show
The Dick Cavett Show
The Dick Cavett Show has been the title of several talk shows hosted by Dick Cavett on various television networks, including:* ABC daytime ...

. Many radio stations refused to broadcast the song because of the word "nigger". Lennon and Ono gave two benefit concerts with Elephant's Memory and guests in New York in aid of patients at the Willowbrook State School
Willowbrook State School
Willowbrook State School was a state-supported institution for children with intellectual disabilities located in the Willowbrook neighborhood of Staten Island in New York City from the 1930s until 1987....

 mental facility. Staged at Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden, often abbreviated as MSG and known colloquially as The Garden, is a multi-purpose indoor arena in the New York City borough of Manhattan and located at 8th Avenue, between 31st and 33rd Streets, situated on top of Pennsylvania Station.Opened on February 11, 1968, it is the...

 on 30 August 1972, they were his last full-length concert appearances.

1973–75: "The lost weekend"

While Lennon was recording Mind Games
Mind Games
Mind Games is John Lennon's fourth post-Beatles album, and was recorded and released in 1973. Like his previous album, the politically topical and somewhat abrasive Some Time in New York City, Mind Games was poorly received by music critics...

 (1973), he and Ono decided to separate. The ensuing eighteen-month period apart, which he later called his "lost weekend", was spent in Los Angeles and New York in the company of May Pang
May Pang
May Fung Yee Pang is best known as the former girlfriend of John Lennon. She had previously worked as a personal assistant and production coordinator for Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono....

. Mind Games, credited to "the Plastic U.F.Ono Band", was released in November 1973. Lennon also contributed "I'm the Greatest
I'm the Greatest
"I'm the Greatest" is a song written by John Lennon for Ringo Starr; both former members of the music group The Beatles. It was released by Starr on the 1973 Ringo album and 4 compilation and live albums....

", to Starr's album Ringo
Ringo (album)
Ringo is the third album by Ringo Starr, released in 1973 on Apple Records. It peaked at #7 on the UK Albums Chart and #2 on the Billboard 200, and has been certified platinum by the RIAA. In Canada, it reached #1 on the RPM national albums chart...

 (1973), released the same month. (an alternate take, from the same 1973 "Ringo" sessions, with Lennon providing a guide vocal, appears on John Lennon Anthology
John Lennon Anthology
John Lennon Anthology is a box set of home demos, alternative studio outtakes and other unreleased material recorded by John Lennon over the course of his solo career from "Give Peace a Chance" in 1969 up until the 1980 sessions for Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey.The anthology was divided by its...

.)

In early 1974, Lennon was drinking heavily and his alcohol-fuelled antics with Harry Nilsson
Harry Nilsson
Harry Edward Nilsson III was an American singer-songwriter who achieved the peak of his commercial success in the early 1970s. On all but his earliest recordings he is credited as Nilsson...

 made headlines. Two widely publicised incidents occurred at The Troubadour club in March, the first when Lennon placed a menstruation ‘towel’
Sanitary napkin
A sanitary napkin, sanitary towel, sanitary pad, menstrual pad, maxi pad, or pad is an absorbent item worn by a woman while she is menstruating, recovering from vaginal surgery, for lochia , abortion, or any other situation where it is necessary to absorb a flow of blood from a woman's vagina.These...

 on his forehead and scuffled with a waitress, and the second, two weeks later, when Lennon and Nilsson were ejected from the same club after heckling the Smothers Brothers
Smothers Brothers
The Smothers Brothers are Thomas and Richard , American singers, musicians, comedians and folk heroes. The brothers' trademark act was performing folk songs , which usually led to arguments between the siblings...

. Lennon decided to produce Nilsson's album Pussy Cats
Pussy Cats
Pussy Cats is the tenth album by Harry Nilsson, released in 1974. It was produced by John Lennon during his "Lost Weekend" period. The album title was inspired by the bad press Nilsson and Lennon were getting at the time for being drunk and rowdy in Los Angeles...

 and Pang rented an L.A. beach house for all the musicians but after a month of further debauchery, with the recording sessions in chaos, Lennon moved to New York with Pang to finish work on the album. In April, Lennon had produced the Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger
Sir Michael Philip "Mick" Jagger is an English musician, singer and songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist and a founding member of The Rolling Stones....

 song "Too Many Cooks (Spoil the Soup)" which was, for contractual reasons, to remain unreleased for more than 30 years. Pang supplied the recording for its eventual inclusion on The Very Best of Mick Jagger
The Very Best of Mick Jagger
The Very Best of Mick Jagger is a compilation album that was released worldwide on 1 October 2007 and the following day in the United States on WEA/Rhino Records...

 (2007).

Settled back in New York, Lennon recorded the album Walls and Bridges
Walls and Bridges
Walls and Bridges is the fifth album by John Lennon; it was issued on 26 September 1974 in the United States and on 4 October in the United Kingdom. Written, recorded and released during his 18-month separation from Yoko Ono , the album captures Lennon in the midst of The Lost Weekend...

. Released in October 1974, it yielded his only number-one single in his lifetime, "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night
Whatever Gets You thru the Night
"Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" is a song written by John Lennon, released as a single in 1974 on Apple Records, catalogue Apple 1874 in the United States and Apple R5998 in the United Kingdom. It peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #36 on the British singles chart...

", featuring Elton John
Elton John
Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE, Hon DMus is an English rock singer-songwriter, composer, pianist and occasional actor...

 on backing vocals and piano. A second single from the album, "#9 Dream
Number 9 Dream
"#9 Dream" is a song written by John Lennon and first issued on his 1974 album Walls and Bridges. It was released as the second single from that album months later, on Apple Records catalogue Apple 1878 in the United States and Apple R6003 in the United Kingdom...

", followed before the end of the year. Starr's Goodnight Vienna
Goodnight Vienna
Goodnight Vienna is the fourth album by Ringo Starr. It was recorded in the summer of 1974 in Los Angeles, and released later that year. Goodnight Vienna followed the commercially successful predecessor Ringo, and Starr used many of the same players, including Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann, Robbie...

 (1974) again saw assistance from Lennon, who wrote the title track and played piano. On 28 November, Lennon made a surprise guest appearance at Elton John's Thanksgiving concert at Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden, often abbreviated as MSG and known colloquially as The Garden, is a multi-purpose indoor arena in the New York City borough of Manhattan and located at 8th Avenue, between 31st and 33rd Streets, situated on top of Pennsylvania Station.Opened on February 11, 1968, it is the...

, in fulfilment of his promise to join the singer in a live show if "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night"—a song whose commercial potential Lennon had doubted—reached number one. Lennon performed the song along with "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is a song written primarily by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney, for The Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band...

" and "I Saw Her Standing There
I Saw Her Standing There
"I Saw Her Standing There" is a song written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, and is the opening track on The Beatles' debut album, Please Please Me, released in the United Kingdom by Parlophone on 22 March 1963....

", which he introduced as "a song by an old estranged fiancee of mine called Paul".

Lennon co-wrote "Fame
Fame (David Bowie song)
"Fame" is a song recorded by David Bowie, initially released in 1975. It reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the week of September 20, 1975.-Song development:...

", David Bowie
David Bowie
David Bowie is an English musician, actor, record producer and arranger. A major figure for over four decades in the world of popular music, Bowie is widely regarded as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s...

's first US number one, and provided guitar and backing vocals for the January 1975 recording. The same month, Elton John topped the charts with his cover of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", featuring Lennon on guitar and back-up vocals. He and Ono were reunited shortly afterwards. Lennon released Rock 'n' Roll
Rock 'n' Roll (John Lennon album)
Rock 'n' Roll is a 1975 album of late 1950s and early 1960s songs covered by John Lennon. Recording the album was problematic and spanned a year. Though critically derided, it reached #6 in both the United Kingdom and the United States.-History:...

 (1975), an album of cover songs, in February. "Stand By Me
Stand by Me (song)
"Stand by Me" is the title of a song originally performed by Ben E. King and written by King, Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller, based on the spiritual "Lord Stand by Me,", plus two lines rooted in Psalms 46:2-3...

", taken from the album and a US and UK hit, became his last single for five years. He made what would be his final stage appearance in the ATV
Associated TeleVision
Associated Television, often referred to as ATV, was a British television company, holder of various licences to broadcast on the ITV network from 24 September 1955 until 00:34 on 1 January 1982...

 special A Salute to Lew Grade
Lew Grade
Lew Grade, Baron Grade , born Lev Winogradsky, was an influential Russian-born English impresario and media mogul.-Early years:...

, recorded on 18 April and televised in June. Playing acoustic guitar, and backed by an eight-piece band, Lennon performed two songs from Rock 'n' Roll ("Stand By Me", which was not broadcast, and "Slippin' and Slidin'") followed by "Imagine".

1975–80: Retirement and return

With the birth of his second son Sean
Sean Lennon
is an American singer, songwriter, musician, guitarist and actor. He is the only child of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. His godfather is Sir Elton John.-Early life and education:...

 on 9 October 1975, Lennon took on the role of househusband, beginning what would be a five-year hiatus from the music industry during which he gave all his attention to his family. Within the month, he fulfilled his contractual obligation to EMI/Capitol for one more album by releasing Shaved Fish
Shaved Fish
The year the album was released, a Creem magazine reader's poll included it among the top five "Best Reissues" of 1975, placing fourth, behind two Rolling Stones compilations, Made in the Shade and Metamorphosis, and The Basement Tapes....

, a compilation album of previously recorded tracks. He devoted himself to Sean, rising at 6 am daily to plan and prepare his meals and to spend time with him. He wrote "Cookin' (In the Kitchen of Love)" for Starr's Ringo's Rotogravure
Ringo's Rotogravure
Ringo's Rotogravure is the fifth album by Ringo Starr, released in 1976. Following the end of his contract with EMI, Starr signed on with Polydor Records worldwide and was eager to see his solo success continue on in a new era.Two years on from 1974's Goodnight...

 (1976), performing on the track in June in what would be his last recording session until 1980. He formally announced his break from music in Tokyo in 1977, saying, "we have basically decided, without any great decision, to be with our baby as much as we can until we feel we can take time off to indulge ourselves in creating things outside of the family." During his career break he created several series of drawings, and drafted a book containing a mix of autobiographical material and what he termed "mad stuff", all of which would be published posthumously.

He emerged from retirement in October 1980 with the single "(Just Like) Starting Over
(Just Like) Starting Over
" Starting Over" is a song written and performed by John Lennon for his album, Double Fantasy. The B-side was Yoko Ono's "Kiss Kiss Kiss". It was released as a single on 24 October 1980 and reached number one in both the USA and UK two weeks after he was murdered. It is his biggest solo American...

", followed the next month by the album Double Fantasy
Double Fantasy
Double Fantasy is an album released by John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, in 1980. Though initially poorly received, the album is notable for its association with Lennon's murder three weeks after its release, whereupon it become a worldwide commercial success, and went on to win the 1981 Album...

, which contained songs written during a journey to Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

 on a 43-foot sailing boat the previous June, that reflected Lennon's fulfillment in his new-found stable family life. Sufficient additional material was recorded for a planned follow-up album Milk and Honey (released posthumously in 1984). Released jointly with Ono, Double Fantasy was not well received, drawing comments such as Melody Maker
Melody Maker
Melody Maker, published in the United Kingdom, was, according to its publisher IPC Media, the world's oldest weekly music newspaper. It was founded in 1926 as a magazine targeted at musicians; in 2000 it was merged into "long-standing rival" New Musical Express.-1950s–1960s:Originally the Melody...

s "indulgent sterility ... a godawful yawn".

8 December 1980: Death

At around 10:50 pm on 8 December 1980, as Lennon and Ono returned to their New York apartment in The Dakota
The Dakota
The Dakota, constructed from October 25, 1880 to October 27, 1884, is a co-op apartment building located on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City...

, Mark David Chapman
Mark David Chapman
Mark David Chapman is an American prison inmate who murdered former Beatles member John Lennon on December 8, 1980. He committed the crime as Lennon and Yoko Ono were outside of The Dakota apartment building in New York City. Chapman aimed five shots at Lennon, hitting him four times in his back...

 shot Lennon in the back four times at the entrance to the building. Lennon was taken to the emergency room of nearby Roosevelt Hospital
St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center
St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, an academic affiliate of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, is a 1,076-bed, full-service community and tertiary care hospital serving New York City’s Midtown West, Upper West Side and parts of Harlem....

 and was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:07 pm. Earlier that evening, Lennon had autographed a copy of Double Fantasy for Chapman.

Ono issued a statement the next day, saying "There is no funeral for John", ending it with the words, "John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him." His body was cremated at Ferncliff Cemetery
Ferncliff Cemetery
Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum is located on Secor Road in the hamlet of Hartsdale, town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, about 25 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. It was founded in 1902, and is non-sectarian...

 in Hartsdale, New York. Ono scattered his ashes in New York's Central Park, where the Strawberry Fields memorial was later created. Chapman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life; as of 2011, he remains in prison, having been denied parole six times.

Cynthia Lennon

Lennon and Cynthia Powell met in 1957 as fellow students at the Liverpool College of Art
Liverpool College of Art
Liverpool College of Art is located at 68 Hope Street, in Liverpool, England. It is a Grade II listed building.The building is currently owned by Liverpool John Moores University housing its School of Social Science....

. Although being scared of Lennon's attitude and appearance, she heard that he was obsessed with French actress Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot is a French former fashion model, actress, singer and animal rights activist. She was one of the best-known sex-symbols of the 1960s.In her early life, Bardot was an aspiring ballet dancer...

, so she dyed her hair blonde. Lennon asked her out, but when she said that she was engaged, he screamed out, "I didn't ask you to fuckin' marry me, did I?" She often accompanied him to Quarrymen gigs and travelled to Hamburg with McCartney's girlfriend at the time to visit him. Lennon, jealous by nature, eventually grew possessive and often terrified Powell with his anger and physical violence. Lennon later said that until he met Ono, he had never questioned his chauvinistic attitude to women. The Beatles' song "Getting Better
Getting Better
"Getting Better" is a song written mainly by Paul McCartney, with lyrical contributions from John Lennon . It was recorded by The Beatles for the 1967 album Sgt...

", he said, told his own story, "I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically—any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace".

Recalling his reaction in July 1962 on learning that Cynthia was pregnant, Lennon said, "There's only one thing for it Cyn. We'll have to get married." The couple were married on 23 August at the Mount Pleasant Register Office in Liverpool. His marriage began just as Beatlemania
Beatlemania in the United Kingdom
The phenomenon known as Beatlemania originated in the United Kingdom, birthplace of The Beatles, when the band first realised enormous popularity there in late 1962. Returning from a highly formative two-year residency in Germany, The Beatles achieved a commercial breakthrough with their second UK...

 took hold across the UK. He performed on the evening of his wedding day, and would continue to do so almost daily from then on. Epstein, fearing that fans would be alienated by the idea of a married Beatle, asked the Lennons to keep their marriage secret. Julian was born on 8 April 1963; Lennon was on tour at the time and did not see his son until three days later.

Cynthia attributes the start of the marriage breakdown to LSD, and as a result, she felt that he slowly lost interest in her. When the group travelled by train to Bangor, Wales, in 1967, for the Maharishi Yogi's Transcendental Meditation seminar, a policeman did not recognise her and stopped her from boarding. She later recalled how the incident seemed to symbolize the ending of their marriage. After arriving home at Kenwood
Kenwood, St. George's Hill
Kenwood is a house on the St. George's Hill estate, Weybridge, Surrey, England. Originally called the Brown House, it was designed by architect T.A. Allen, and built in 1913 by local builders, Love & Sons. The estate was constructed around the Weybridge Golf Club, which was designed in 1912 by...

, and finding Lennon with Ono, Cynthia left the house to stay with friends. Alexis Mardas
Magic Alex
Yanni Alexis Mardas , better known as Magic Alex, the name given him by The Beatles when he knew the group between 1965 and 1969, is a self-styled electronics wizard and one-time head of The Beatles' Apple Electronics.Mardas arrived in England in 1965, exhibiting his Kinetic Light Sculptures at...

 later claimed to have slept with her that night, and a few weeks later he informed her that Lennon was seeking a divorce and custody of Julian on grounds of her adultery with him. After negotiations, Lennon capitulated and agreed to her divorcing him on the same grounds. The case was settled out of court, with Lennon giving her £100,000, and custody of Julian.

Brian Epstein

The Beatles were performing at Liverpool's Cavern Club
The Cavern Club
The Cavern Club is a rock and roll club in Liverpool, England. Opened on Wednesday 16 January 1957, the club had their first performance by The Beatles on 9 February 1961, and where Brian Epstein first saw The Beatles performing on 9 November 1961....

 in 1962, when all four Beatles were introduced to Epstein after a midday concert. Epstein was homosexual. According to biographer Philip Norman
Philip Norman (author)
Philip Norman is an English novelist, biographer, journalist and playwright.Norman grew up in Ryde, Isle of Wight. He attended Ryde School, and his father, Clive Norman, ran the Seagull Ballroom on Ryde Pier. He described his childhood in his book Babycham Night...

, one of his reasons for wanting to manage the group was that he was physically attracted to Lennon. Almost as soon as Julian was born, Lennon went on holiday to Spain with Epstein, leading to speculation about their relationship. Questioned about it later, Lennon said, "Well, it was almost a love affair, but not quite. It was never consummated. But it was a pretty intense relationship. It was my first experience with a homosexual that I was conscious was homosexual. We used to sit in a café in Torremolinos
Torremolinos
Torremolinos is a municipality on the Costa del Sol of the Mediterranean, immediately to the west of the city of Málaga, in the province of Málaga in the autonomous region of Andalusia in southern Spain...

 looking at all the boys and I'd say, 'Do you like that one? Do you like this one?' I was rather enjoying the experience, thinking like a writer all the time: I am experiencing this." Soon after their return from Spain, at McCartney's twenty-first birthday party in June 1963, Lennon physically attacked Cavern Club MC Bob Wooler
Bob Wooler
Bob Wooler was most notable for being instrumental in introducing The Beatles to their manager, Brian Epstein, and as the DJ at The Cavern Club.-Career:...

 for saying "How was your honeymoon, John?" The MC, known for his wordplay and affectionate but cutting remarks, was making a joke, but ten months had passed since Lennon's marriage, and the honeymoon, deferred, was still two months in the future. To Lennon, who was intoxicated with alcohol at the time, the matter was simple: "He called me a queer
Queer
Queer is an umbrella term for sexual minorities that are not heterosexual, heteronormative, or gender-binary. In the context of Western identity politics the term also acts as a label setting queer-identifying people apart from discourse, ideologies, and lifestyles that typify mainstream LGBT ...

 so I battered his bloody ribs in".

Lennon delighted in mocking Epstein for his homosexuality and for the fact that he was Jewish. When Epstein invited suggestions for the title of his autobiography, Lennon offered Queer Jew; on learning of the eventual title, A Cellarful of Noise
A Cellarful of Noise
A Cellarful of Noise is the title of Brian Epstein's 1964 autobiography. His assistant, Derek Taylor, was the ghostwriter of the book, which describes the early days of The Beatles, whom Epstein managed....

, he parodied, "More like A Cellarful of Boys". He demanded of a visitor to Epstein's flat, "Have you come to blackmail him? If not, you're the only bugger in London who hasn't." During the recording of "Baby, You're a Rich Man", he sang altered choruses of "Baby, you're a rich fag Jew".

Julian Lennon

Lennon's first son, Julian, was born as his commitments with The Beatles intensified at the height of Beatlemania
Beatlemania in the United Kingdom
The phenomenon known as Beatlemania originated in the United Kingdom, birthplace of The Beatles, when the band first realised enormous popularity there in late 1962. Returning from a highly formative two-year residency in Germany, The Beatles achieved a commercial breakthrough with their second UK...

 during his marriage to Cynthia. Lennon was touring with The Beatles when Julian was born on 8 April 1963. Julian's birth, like his mother Cynthia's marriage to Lennon, was kept secret because Epstein was convinced public knowledge of such things would threaten The Beatles' commercial success. Julian recalls how some four years later, as a small child in Weybridge, "I was trundled home from school and came walking up with one of my watercolour paintings. It was just a bunch of stars and this blonde girl I knew at school. And Dad said, 'What's this?' I said, 'It's Lucy in the sky with diamonds.'" Lennon used it as the title of a Beatles' song
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is a song written primarily by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney, for The Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band...

, and though it was later reported to have been derived from the initials LSD, Lennon insisted, "It's not an acid song." McCartney corroborated Lennon's explanation that Julian innocently came up with the name. Lennon was distant from Julian, who felt closer to McCartney than to his father. During a car journey to visit Cynthia and Julian during Lennon's divorce, McCartney composed a song, "Hey Jules", to comfort him. It would evolve into The Beatles song "Hey Jude
Hey Jude
"Hey Jude" is a song by the English rock band The Beatles, written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The ballad evolved from "Hey Jules", a song widely accepted as being written to comfort John Lennon's son, Julian, during his parents' divorce—although this explanation is not...

". Lennon later said, "That's his best song. It started off as a song about my son Julian ... he turned it into 'Hey Jude'. I always thought it was about me and Yoko but he said it wasn't."

Lennon's relationship with Julian was already strained, and after Lennon and Ono's 1971 move to New York, Julian would not see his father again until 1973. With Pang's encouragement, it was arranged for him (and his mother) to visit Lennon in Los Angeles, where they went to Disneyland
Disneyland Park (Anaheim)
Disneyland Park is a theme park located in Anaheim, California, owned and operated by the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts division of the Walt Disney Company. Known as Disneyland when it opened on July 18, 1955, and still almost universally referred to by that name, it is the only theme park to be...

. Julian started to see his father regularly, and Lennon gave him a drumming part on a Walls and Bridges
Walls and Bridges
Walls and Bridges is the fifth album by John Lennon; it was issued on 26 September 1974 in the United States and on 4 October in the United Kingdom. Written, recorded and released during his 18-month separation from Yoko Ono , the album captures Lennon in the midst of The Lost Weekend...

 track. He bought Julian a Gibson Les Paul
Gibson Les Paul
The Gibson Les Paul was the result of a design collaboration between Gibson Guitar Corporation and the late jazz guitarist and electronics inventor Les Paul. In 1950, with the introduction of the Fender Telecaster to the musical market, electric guitars became a public craze. In reaction, Gibson...

 guitar and other instruments, and encouraged his interest in music by demonstrating guitar chord techniques. Julian recalls that he and his father "got on a great deal better" during the time he spent in New York: "We had a lot of fun, laughed a lot and had a great time in general."

In a Playboy interview with David Sheff shortly before his death, Lennon said, "Sean was 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." He said he was trying to re-establish a connection with the then 17-year-old, and confidently predicted, "Julian and I will have a relationship in the future." After his death it was revealed that he had left Julian very little in his will.

Yoko Ono

Two versions exist of how Lennon met Ono. According to the first, on 9 November 1966 Lennon went to the Indica Gallery
Indica Gallery
Indica Gallery was a counterculture art gallery in Mason's Yard , St. James's, London, England during the late 1960s, in the basement of the Indica Bookshop co-owned by John Dunbar, Peter Asher and Barry Miles...

 in London, where Ono was preparing her conceptual art exhibit, and they were introduced by gallery owner John Dunbar. Lennon was intrigued by Ono's "Hammer A Nail": patrons hammered a nail into a wooden board, creating the art piece. Although the exhibition had not yet begun, Lennon wanted to hammer a nail into the clean board, but Ono stopped him. Dunbar asked her, "Don't you know who this is? He's a millionaire! He might buy it." Ono had supposedly not heard of The Beatles, but relented on condition that Lennon pay her five shillings, to which Lennon replied, "I'll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in." The second version, told by McCartney, is that in late 1965, Ono was in London compiling original musical scores for a book John Cage
John Cage
John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde...

 was working on, Notations
Notations
Notations is a book that was edited by John Cage with Alison Knowles. The book is made up of a large collection of graphical scores which are presented in alphabetical order, with each score getting equal space....

, but McCartney declined to give her any of his own manuscripts for the book, suggesting that Lennon might oblige. When asked, Lennon gave Ono the original handwritten lyrics to "The Word
The Word (song)
"The Word" is a song by The Beatles first released on their 1965 album Rubber Soul. It has been cited as the first instance in which The Beatles began writing about love in more abstract terms, versus concrete girl/boy terms, a la "She Loves You", with preaching lyrics such as "The word is love"...

".

Ono began telephoning and calling at Lennon's home, and when his wife asked for an explanation, he explained that Ono was only trying to obtain money for her "avant-garde bullshit". In May 1968, while his wife was on holiday in Greece, Lennon invited Ono to visit. They spent the night recording what would become the Two Virgins album, after which, he said, they "made love at dawn." When Lennon's wife returned home she found Ono wearing her bathrobe and drinking tea with Lennon who simply said, "Oh, hi." Ono became pregnant in 1968 and miscarried a male child they named John Ono Lennon II on 21 November 1968, a few weeks after Lennon's divorce from Cynthia was granted.

During Lennon's last two years in The Beatles, he and Ono began public protests against the Vietnam War. They were married in Gibraltar on 20 March 1969, and spent their honeymoon in Amsterdam campaigning with a week-long Bed-In for peace
Bed-In
During the Vietnam War, in 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono held two week-long Bed-Ins for Peace in Amsterdam and Montreal, which were their non-violent ways of protesting wars and promoting peace...

. They planned another Bed-In in the United States, but were denied entry, so held one instead at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel
Queen Elizabeth Hotel
The Queen Elizabeth Hotel is a grand hotel in Montreal, Quebec. Completed in 1958, it was built by the Canadian National Railway, but was later sold to Canadian Pacific Hotels, now Fairmont Hotels and Resorts...

 in Montreal, where they recorded "Give Peace a Chance". They often combined advocacy with performance art, as in their "Bagism
Bagism
Bagism is a term which was created by John Lennon and Yoko Ono as part of their extensive peace campaign in the late 1960s. The intent of bagism was to satirize prejudice and stereotyping. Bagism involved literally wearing a bag over one's entire body...

", first introduced during a Vienna press conference. Lennon detailed this period in The Beatles' song "The Ballad of John and Yoko". Lennon changed his name by deed poll
Deed poll
A deed poll is a legal document binding only to a single person or several persons acting jointly to express an active intention...

 on 22 April 1969, adding "Ono" as a middle name. The brief ceremony took place on the roof of the Apple Corps
Apple Corps
Apple Corps Ltd. is a multi-armed multimedia corporation founded in January 1968 by the members of The Beatles to replace their earlier company and to form a conglomerate. Its name is a pun. Its chief division is Apple Records, which was launched in the same year...

 building, made famous three months earlier by The Beatles' Let It Be rooftop concert. Although he used the name John Ono Lennon thereafter, official documents referred to him as John Winston Ono Lennon, since he was not permitted to revoke a name given at birth. After Ono was injured in a car accident, Lennon arranged for a king-sized bed to be brought to the recording studio as he worked on The Beatles' last album, Abbey Road. To escape the acrimony of the band's break-up, Ono suggested they move permanently to New York, which they did on 31 August 1971.

They first lived in the St. Regis Hotel on 5th Avenue, East 55th Street
55th Street (Manhattan)
55th Street is a two-mile-long, one-way street traveling east to west across Midtown Manhattan.-Sutton Place South:*The route officially begins at Sutton Place South which is on a hill overlooking FDR Drive....

, then moved to a street-level flat at 105 Bank Street, Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village, , , , .in New York often simply called "the Village", is a largely residential neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan in New York City. A large majority of the district is home to upper middle class families...

, on 16 October 1971. After a robbery, they relocated to the more secure Dakota
The Dakota
The Dakota, constructed from October 25, 1880 to October 27, 1884, is a co-op apartment building located on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City...

 at 1 West 72nd Street, in May 1973.

May Pang

ABKCO Industries, formed in 1968 by Allen Klein
Allen Klein
Allen Klein was an American businessman, talent agent and record label executive. His clients included The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.- The accountant :...

 as an umbrella company to ABKCO Records
ABKCO Records
ABKCO Music & Records, Inc. is a major independent record label, music publisher, and film and video production company. It owns and or administers the rights to music by Sam Cooke, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Herman's Hermits, Marianne Faithfull, The Kinks as well as the Cameo Parkway label,...

, recruited May Pang as a receptionist in 1969. Through involvement in a project with ABKCO, Lennon and Ono met her the following year. She became their personal assistant. After she had been working with the couple for three years, Ono confided that she and Lennon were becoming estranged from one another. She went on to suggest that Pang should begin a physical relationship with Lennon, telling her, "He likes you a lot." Pang, 22, astounded by Ono's proposition, eventually agreed to become Lennon's companion. The pair soon moved to California, beginning an eighteen-month period he later called his "lost weekend". In Los Angeles, Pang encouraged Lennon to develop regular contact with Julian, whom he had not seen for two years. He also rekindled friendships with Starr, McCartney, Beatles' roadie Mal Evans
Mal Evans
Malcolm Frederick 'Mal' Evans was best known as the road manager, assistant, and a friend of The Beatles: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr....

, and Harry Nilsson
Harry Nilsson
Harry Edward Nilsson III was an American singer-songwriter who achieved the peak of his commercial success in the early 1970s. On all but his earliest recordings he is credited as Nilsson...

. Whilst drinking with Nilsson, after misunderstanding something Pang said, Lennon attempted to strangle her, relenting only when physically restrained by Nilsson.

On moving to New York, they prepared a spare room in their newly rented apartment for Julian to visit. Lennon, hitherto inhibited by Ono in this regard, began to reestablish contact with other relatives and friends. By December he and Pang were considering a house purchase, and he was refusing to accept Ono's telephone calls. In January 1975, he agreed to meet Ono—who said she had found a cure for smoking—but after the meeting failed to return home or call Pang. When Pang telephoned the next day, Ono told her Lennon was unavailable, being exhausted after a hypnotherapy session. Two days later, Lennon reappeared at a joint dental appointment, stupefied and confused to such an extent that Pang believed he had been brainwashed. He told her his separation from Ono was now over, though Ono would allow him to continue seeing her as his mistress
Mistress (lover)
A mistress is a long-term female lover and companion who is not married to her partner; the term is used especially when her partner is married. The relationship generally is stable and at least semi-permanent; however, the couple does not live together openly. Also the relationship is usually,...

.

Sean Lennon

When Lennon and Ono were reunited, she became pregnant, but having previously suffered three miscarriages in her attempt to have a child with Lennon, she said she wanted an abortion. She agreed to allow the pregnancy to continue on condition that Lennon adopt the role of househusband; this he agreed to do. Sean was born on 9 October 1975, Lennon's 35th birthday, delivered by Caesarean section. Lennon's subsequent career break would span five years. He had a photographer take pictures of Sean every day of his first year, and created numerous drawings for him, posthumously published as Real Love: The Drawings for Sean. Lennon later proudly declared, "He didn't come out of my belly but, by God, I made his bones, because I've attended to every meal, and to how he sleeps, and to the fact that he swims like a fish."

Former Beatles

Although his friendship with Starr remained consistently warm during the years following The Beatles' break-up in 1970, Lennon's relationship with McCartney and Harrison varied. He was close to Harrison initially, but the two drifted apart after Lennon moved to America. When Harrison was in New York for his December 1974 Dark Horse tour, Lennon agreed to join him on stage, but failed to appear after an argument over Lennon's refusal to sign an agreement that would finally dissolve The Beatles' legal partnership. (Lennon eventually signed the papers while holidaying in Florida with Pang and Julian.) Harrison incensed Lennon in 1980 when he published an autobiography that made little mention of him. Lennon told Playboy, "I was hurt by it. By glaring omission ... my influence on his life is absolutely zilch ... he remembers every two-bit sax player or guitarist he met in subsequent years. I'm not in the book."

Lennon's most intense feelings were reserved for McCartney. In addition to attacking him through the lyrics of "How Do You Sleep?", Lennon argued with him through the press for three years after the group split. The two later began to reestablish something of the close friendship they had once known, and in 1974 even played music together again, before growing apart once more. Lennon said that during McCartney's final visit, in April 1976, they watched the episode of Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

 in which Lorne Michaels
Lorne Michaels
Lorne Michaels, CM is a Canadian-American television producer, writer, and comedian best known for creating and producing Saturday Night Live and producing the various film and TV projects that spun off from it.-Early life:...

 made a $3,000 cash offer to get The Beatles to reunite on the show. The pair considered going to the studio to make a joke appearance, attempting to claim their share of the money, but were too tired. Lennon summarised his feelings towards McCartney in an interview three days before his death: "Throughout my career, I've selected to work with...only two people: Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono....That ain't bad picking."

Along with his estrangement from McCartney, Lennon always felt a musical competitiveness with him and kept an ear on his music. During his five-year career break he was content to sit back so long as McCartney was producing what Lennon saw as mediocre "product". When McCartney released "Coming Up
Coming Up (song)
"Coming Up" was the opening track from Paul McCartney's McCartney II album, written by McCartney and released in 1980. Like the rest of the album, the song had a minimalist synthesized feel to it. It featured lead vocals from McCartney distorted by using vari-speed, and he played all the...

" in 1980, the year Lennon returned to the studio and the last year of his life, he took notice. "It's driving me crackers!" he jokingly complained, because he could not get the tune out of his head. Asked the same year whether the group were dreaded enemies or the best of friends, he replied that they were neither, and that he had not seen any of them in a long time. But he also said, "I still love those guys. The Beatles are over, but John, Paul, George and Ringo go on."

Political activism

Lennon and Ono used their honeymoon as what they termed a "Bed-In for Peace
Bed-In
During the Vietnam War, in 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono held two week-long Bed-Ins for Peace in Amsterdam and Montreal, which were their non-violent ways of protesting wars and promoting peace...

" at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel
Amsterdam Hilton Hotel
The Amsterdam Hilton Hotel is a five star hotel in Apollobuurt, Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. It is located at Apollolaan 138 along the Noorder Amstelkanaal, a canal connected to the Amstel river. The hotel opened officially in 1962 and is a branch of the Hilton Hotels chain...

; the March 1969 event attracted worldwide media ridicule. At a second Bed-In three months later at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal Lennon wrote and recorded "Give Peace a Chance". Released as a single, it was quickly taken up as an anti-war anthem and sung by a quarter of a million demonstrators against the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 in Washington, DC, on 15 October, the second Vietnam Moratorium Day
Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam
The Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam was a large demonstration against the United States involvement in the Vietnam War that took place across the United States on October 15, 1969. The Moratorium developed from Jerome Grossman's April 20, 1969, call for a general strike if the war had not...

.

Later that year, Lennon and Ono supported efforts by the family of James Hanratty
James Hanratty
James Hanratty , a petty criminal with no history of violence, was the eighth-to-last person in the United Kingdom to be hanged after being convicted of the murder of Michael Gregsten at Deadman's Hill on the A6, near the village of Clophill, Bedfordshire, England, on 23 August 1961...

, hanged for murder in 1962, to prove his innocence. Those who had condemned Hanratty were, according to Lennon, "the same people who are running guns to South Africa and killing blacks in the streets. ... The same bastards are in control, the same people are running everything, it's the whole bullshit bourgeois scene." In London, Lennon and Ono staged a "Britain Murdered Hanratty" banner march and a "Silent Protest For James Hanratty", and produced a 40-minute documentary on the case. At an appeal hearing
Court of Appeal of England and Wales
The Court of Appeal of England and Wales is the second most senior court in the English legal system, with only the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom above it...

 years later, Hanratty's conviction was upheld.

Lennon and Ono showed their solidarity with the Clydeside UCS
Upper Clyde Shipbuilders
Upper Clyde Shipbuilders was a British shipbuilding consortium created in 1968 as a result of the amalgamation of five major shipbuilders of the River Clyde in Scotland...

 workers' work-in
Work-in
A work-in is a form of direct action, where a group of workers whose jobs are under threat resolve to remain in their place of employment and continue producing without pay...

 of 1971 by sending a bouquet of red roses and a cheque for £5,000. On moving to New York City in August that year, they befriended two of the Chicago Seven
Chicago Seven
The Chicago Seven were seven defendants—Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, and Lee Weiner—charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to protests that took place in Chicago, Illinois on the occasion of the 1968...

, Yippie
Youth International Party
The Youth International Party, whose members were commonly called Yippies, was a radically youth-oriented and countercultural revolutionary offshoot of the free speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s. It was founded on Dec. 31, 1967...

 peace activists Jerry Rubin
Jerry Rubin
Jerry Rubin was an American social activist during the 1960s and 1970s. During the 1980s, he became a successful businessman.-Early life:...

 and Abbie Hoffman
Abbie Hoffman
Abbot Howard "Abbie" Hoffman was a political and social activist who co-founded the Youth International Party ....

. Another peace activist, John Sinclair
John Sinclair (poet)
John Sinclair is a Detroit poet, one-time manager of the band MC5, and leader of the White Panther Party — a militantly anti-racist countercultural group of white socialists seeking to assist the Black Panthers in the Civil Rights movement — from November 1968 to July 1969...

, poet and co-founder of the White Panther Party
White Panther Party
The White Panthers were a far-left, anti-racist, White American political collective founded in 1968 by Lawrence Plamondon, Leni Sinclair, and John Sinclair. It was started in response to an interview where Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, was asked what white people could do...

, was serving ten years in prison for selling two joints
Joint (cannabis)
Joint is a slang term for a cigarette rolled using cannabis. Rolling papers are the most common rolling medium among industrialized countries, however brown paper, cigarettes with the tobacco removed, and newspaper are commonly used in developing countries. Modern papers are now made from a wide...

 of marijuana after previous convictions for possession of the drug. In December 1971 at Ann Arbor, Michigan, 20,000 people attended the "John Sinclair Freedom Rally
John Sinclair Freedom Rally
The John Sinclair Freedom Rally was a protest and concert in response the imprisonment of John Sinclair for possession of marijuana held on December 10, 1971, in Crisler Arena at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan...

", a protest and benefit concert with contributions from Lennon, Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevland Hardaway Morris , better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist...

, Bob Seger
Bob Seger
Robert Clark "Bob" Seger is an American rock and roll singer-songwriter, guitarist and pianist.As a locally successful Detroit-area artist, he performed and recorded as Bob Seger and the Last Heard and Bob Seger System throughout the 1960s...

, Bobby Seale
Bobby Seale
Robert George "Bobby" Seale , is an activist. He is known for co-founding the Black Panther Party with Huey Newton.-Early life:...

 of the Black Panther Party
Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party wasan African-American revolutionary leftist organization. It was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982....

, and others. Lennon and Ono, backed by David Peel and Rubin, performed an acoustic set of four songs from their forthcoming Some Time in New York City album including "John Sinclair", whose lyrics called for his release. The day before the rally, Michigan State had drastically reduced the penalties for Sinclair’s crimes and three days after the rally, he was released on bail. The performance was recorded and two of the tracks later appeared on John Lennon Anthology
John Lennon Anthology
John Lennon Anthology is a box set of home demos, alternative studio outtakes and other unreleased material recorded by John Lennon over the course of his solo career from "Give Peace a Chance" in 1969 up until the 1980 sessions for Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey.The anthology was divided by its...

 (1998).

Following the Bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday (1972)
Bloody Sunday —sometimes called the Bogside Massacre—was an incident on 30 January 1972 in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland, in which twenty-six unarmed civil rights protesters and bystanders were shot by soldiers of the British Army...

 incident in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 in 1972, in which 13 unarmed civil rights protesters
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association
The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association was an organisation which campaigned for equal civil rights for the all the people in Northern Ireland during the late 1960s and early 1970s...

 were shot dead by the British Army, Lennon said that given the choice between the army and the IRA (who were not involved in the incident) he would side with the latter. Lennon and Ono wrote two songs protesting British presence and actions in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 for their Some Time in New York City album: "Luck of the Irish" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday". In 2000, David Shayler
David Shayler
David Shayler is a British journalist and former MI5 officer. Shayler earned notoriety after being prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act 1989 for his passing secret documents to the Mail on Sunday in August 1997 that alleged that MI5 was paranoid about socialists, and that it had previously...

, a former member of Britain's domestic security service MI5 suggested that Lennon had given money to the IRA though this was swiftly denied by Ono. Biographer Bill Harry records that following Bloody Sunday, Lennon and Ono financially supported the production of the film The Irish Tapes, a political documentary with a republican slant.

According to FBI surveillance reports (and confirmed by Tariq Ali
Tariq Ali
Tariq Ali , , is a British Pakistani military historian, novelist, journalist, filmmaker, public intellectual, political campaigner, activist, and commentator...

 in 2006) Lennon was sympathetic to the International Marxist Group
International Marxist Group
The International Marxist Group was a Trotskyist group in Britain between 1968 and 1982. It was the British Section of the Fourth International. It and its youth organisation had had around 1,000 members and supporters in the late 1970s...

, a Trotskyist group formed in Britain in 1968. However, the FBI considered Lennon to have limited effectiveness as a revolutionary since he was "constantly under the influence of narcotics".

Deportation attempt

Following the impact of "Give Peace a Chance" and "Happy Xmas (War is Over)
Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
"Happy Xmas " is a song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono and released in 1971 as a single by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir....

", both strongly associated with the anti–Vietnam War movement, the Nixon administration, hearing rumours of Lennon's involvement in a concert to be held in San Diego at the same time as the Republican National Convention
Republican National Convention
The Republican National Convention is the presidential nominating convention of the Republican Party of the United States. Convened by the Republican National Committee, the stated purpose of the convocation is to nominate an official candidate in an upcoming U.S...

, tried to have him deported. Nixon believed that Lennon's anti-war activities could cost him his re-election; Republican Senator Strom Thurmond
Strom Thurmond
James Strom Thurmond was an American politician who served as a United States Senator. He also ran for the Presidency of the United States in 1948 as the segregationist States Rights Democratic Party candidate, receiving 2.4% of the popular vote and 39 electoral votes...

 suggested in a February 1972 memo that "deportation would be a strategic counter-measure" against Lennon. The next month the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service
Immigration and Naturalization Service
The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service , now referred to as Legacy INS, ceased to exist under that name on March 1, 2003, when most of its functions were transferred from the Department of Justice to three new components within the newly created Department of Homeland Security, as...

 (INS) began deportation proceedings, arguing that his 1968 misdemeanor conviction for cannabis possession in London had made him ineligible for admission to the United States. Lennon spent the next three and a half years in and out of deportation hearings until on 8 October 1975, when a court of appeals barred the deportation attempt, stating " ... the courts will not condone selective deportation based upon secret political grounds." While the legal battle continued, Lennon attended rallies and made television appearances. Lennon and Ono co-hosted the Mike Douglas Show for a week in February 1972, introducing guests such as Jerry Rubin
Jerry Rubin
Jerry Rubin was an American social activist during the 1960s and 1970s. During the 1980s, he became a successful businessman.-Early life:...

 and Bobby Seale
Bobby Seale
Robert George "Bobby" Seale , is an activist. He is known for co-founding the Black Panther Party with Huey Newton.-Early life:...

 to mid-America. In 1972, Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

 wrote a letter to the INS defending Lennon, stating:


John and Yoko add a great voice and drive to the country’s so-called art institution. They inspire and transcend and stimulate and by doing so, only help others to see pure light and in doing that, put an end to this dull taste of petty commercialism which is being passed off as Artist Art by the overpowering mass media. Hurray for John and Yoko. Let them stay and live here and breathe. The country’s got plenty of room and space. Let John and Yoko stay!


On 23 March 1973, Lennon was ordered to leave the US within 60 days. Ono, meanwhile, was granted permanent residence. In response, Lennon and Ono held a press conference on 1 April 1973 at the New York City Bar Association, where they announced the formation of the state of Nutopia
Nutopia
Nutopia is a conceptual country, sometimes referred to as a micronation, founded by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. One of the reasons that the country was founded was address Lennon's then-ongoing immigration problems though satirical means. There is no leadership and not all citizenships have been...

; a place with "no land, no boundaries, no passports, only people". Waving the white flag of Nutopia (two handkerchiefs), they asked for political asylum in the US. The press conference was filmed, and would later appear in the 2006 documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon. Lennon's Mind Games
Mind Games
Mind Games is John Lennon's fourth post-Beatles album, and was recorded and released in 1973. Like his previous album, the politically topical and somewhat abrasive Some Time in New York City, Mind Games was poorly received by music critics...

 (1973) included the track "Nutopian International Anthem", which comprised three seconds of silence. Soon after the press conference, Nixon's involvement in a political scandal came to light, and in June the Watergate
Watergate scandal
The Watergate scandal was a political scandal during the 1970s in the United States resulting from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement...

 hearings began in Washington, DC. They led to the president's resignation 14 months later. Nixon's successor, Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

, showed little interest in continuing the battle against Lennon, and the deportation order was overturned in 1975. The following year, his US immigration status finally resolved, Lennon received his "green card"
United States Permanent Resident Card
United States lawful permanent residency refers to a person's immigration status: the person is authorized to live and work in the United States of America on a permanent basis....

 certifying his permanent residency
Permanent residency
Permanent residency refers to a person's visa status: the person is allowed to reside indefinitely within a country of which he or she is not a citizen. A person with such status is known as a permanent resident....

, and when Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 was inaugurated as president in January 1977, Lennon and Ono attended the Inaugural Ball.

FBI surveillance and declassified documents

After Lennon's death, historian Jon Wiener
Jon Wiener
Jon Wiener is an American professor of history at the University of California Irvine, a contributing editor to The Nation magazine, and a Los Angeles radio host. He was the plaintiff in a Freedom of Information lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its files on John Lennon.-...

 filed a Freedom of Information Act
Freedom of Information Act (United States)
The Freedom of Information Act is a federal freedom of information law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government. The Act defines agency records subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure...

 request for FBI
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 files documenting the Bureau's role in the deportation attempt. The FBI admitted it had 281 pages of files on Lennon, but refused to release most of them on the grounds that they contained national security information. In 1983, Wiener sued the FBI with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 of Southern California
Southern California
Southern California is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura through the Southland and Inland Empire to San Diego...

. It took 14 years of litigation to force the FBI to release the withheld pages. The ACLU, representing Wiener, won a favourable decision in their suit against the FBI in the Ninth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is a U.S. federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* District of Alaska* District of Arizona...

 in 1991. The Justice Department
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 appealed the decision to the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 in April 1992, but the court declined to review the case. In 1997, respecting President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

's newly instigated rule that documents should be withheld only if releasing them would involve "foreseeable harm", the Justice Department settled most of the outstanding issues outside court by releasing all but 10 of the contested documents. Wiener published the results of his 14-year campaign in January 2000. Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files contained facsimiles of the documents, including "lengthy reports by confidential informants detailing the daily lives of anti-war activists, memos to the White House, transcripts of TV shows on which Lennon appeared, and a proposal that Lennon be arrested by local police on drug charges". The story is told in the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon. The final 10 documents in Lennon's FBI file, which reported on his ties with London anti-war activists in 1971 and had been withheld as containing "national security information provided by a foreign government under an explicit promise of confidentiality", were released in December 2006. They contained no indication that the British government had regarded Lennon as a serious threat; one example of the released material was a report that two prominent British leftists had hoped Lennon would finance a left-wing bookshop and reading room.

Writing and art

Lennon's biographer Bill Harry writes that Lennon began drawing and writing creatively at an early age with the encouragement of his uncle. He collected his stories, poetry, cartoons, and caricatures in a Quarry Bank High School exercise book that he called the Daily Howl. The drawings were often of crippled people, and the writings satirical, and throughout the book was an abundance of wordplay. According to classmate Bill Turner, Lennon created the Daily Howl to amuse his best friend and later Quarrymen band mate, Pete Shotton, to whom he would show his work before he let anyone else see it. Turner said that Lennon "had an obsession for Wigan Pier
Wigan Pier
Wigan Pier is the name given today to the area around the canal at the bottom of the Wigan flight of locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. It is a popular location for visitors and the local community in Wigan, Greater Manchester, England, situated just a few hundred yards south-west of the town...

. It kept cropping up", and in Lennon's story A Carrot In A Potato Mine, "the mine was at the end of Wigan Pier." Turner described how one of Lennon's cartoons depicted a bus stop sign annotated with the question, "Why?". Above was a flying pancake, and below, "a blind man wearing glasses leading along a blind dog—also wearing glasses".

Lennon's love of wordplay and nonsense with a twist found a wider audience when he was 24. Harry writes that In His Own Write
In His Own Write
In His Own Write is a book from 1964 by John Lennon. The book consists of short stories and line drawings, often surreal and always nonsensical. It is notable in that it was the first solo Beatle project in any form...

 (1964) was published after "Some journalist who was hanging around The Beatles came to me and I ended up showing him the stuff. They said, 'Write a book' and that's how the first one came about". Like the Daily Howl it contained a mix of formats including short stories, poetry, plays and drawings. One story, "Good Dog Nigel", tells the tale of "a happy dog, urinating on a lamp post, barking, wagging his tail—until he suddenly hears a message that he will be killed at three o'clock". The Times Literary Supplement
The Times Literary Supplement
The Times Literary Supplement is a weekly literary review published in London by News International, a subsidiary of News Corporation.-History:...

 considered the poems and stories "remarkable ... also very funny ... the nonsense runs on, words and images prompting one another in a chain of pure fantasy". Book Week reported, "This is nonsense writing, but one has only to review the literature of nonsense to see how well Lennon has brought it off. While some of his homonyms are gratuitous word play, many others have not only double meaning but a double edge." Lennon was not only surprised by the positive reception, but that the book was reviewed at all, and suggested that readers "took the book more seriously than I did myself. It just began as a laugh for me".

In combination with A Spaniard in the Works
A Spaniard in the Works
A Spaniard in the Works is a book from 1965 by John Lennon. The book consists of nonsensical stories and drawings similar to the style of his previous book, 1964's In His Own Write....

 (1965), In His Own Write formed the basis of the stage play The John Lennon Play: In His Own Write, co-adapted by Victor Spinetti
Victor Spinetti
Victor Spinetti is a Welsh comic actor.-Early life:Spinetti was born in Cwm, Ebbw Vale, Wales of Welsh and Italian heritage from a grandfather who was said to have walked from Italy to Wales to work as a coal miner...

 and Adrienne Kennedy
Adrienne Kennedy
Adrienne Kennedy is an African-American playwright and was a key figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. She is best known for her first major play Funnyhouse of a Negro....

. After negotiations between Lennon, Spinetti and the artistic director of the National Theatre
Royal National Theatre
The Royal National Theatre in London is one of the United Kingdom's two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company...

, Sir Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

, the play opened at the Old Vic
Old Vic
The Old Vic is a theatre located just south-east of Waterloo Station in London on the corner of The Cut and Waterloo Road. Established in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre, it was taken over by Emma Cons in 1880 when it was known formally as the Royal Victoria Hall. In 1898, a niece of Cons, Lilian...

 in 1968. Lennon and Ono attended the opening night performance, their second public appearance together to date. After Lennon's death, further works were published, including Skywriting by Word of Mouth
Skywriting by Word of Mouth
Skywriting by Word of Mouth is the third, and last, book written by John Lennon. Subtitled "and Other Writings Including the Ballad of John and Yoko", it was published posthumously in 1986 and included an afterword by his widow, Yoko Ono...

 (1986); Ai: Japan Through John Lennon's Eyes: A Personal Sketchbook (1992), with Lennon's illustrations of the definitions of Japanese words; and Real Love: The Drawings for Sean (1999). The Beatles Anthology
The Beatles Anthology
The Beatles Anthology is the name of a documentary series, a set of three double albums and a book focusing on the history of The Beatles. Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all participated in the making and approval of the works, which are sometimes referred to collectively as the...

 (2000) also presented examples of his writings and drawings.

Instruments played

His playing of a mouth organ during a bus journey to visit his cousin in Scotland caught the driver's ear. Impressed, the driver told Lennon of a harmonica he could have if he came to Edinburgh the following day, where one had been stored in the bus depot since a passenger left it on a bus. The professional instrument quickly replaced Lennon's toy. He would continue to play harmonica, often using the instrument during The Beatles' Hamburg years, and it became a signature sound in the group's early recordings.
His mother taught him how to play the banjo, later buying him an acoustic guitar. At 16, he played rhythm guitar with the Quarrymen. As his career progressed, he played a variety of electric guitars, predominantly the Rickenbacker 325
Rickenbacker 325
-Overview:The Rickenbacker 325 was the first of the Capri series of hollow body guitars released in 1958 by Rickenbacker. It was designed by Roger Rossmeisl, a guitar craftsman from a family of German instrument makers. Production models were 20-3/4" short scale, dot fretboard inlays, and a small ...

, Epiphone Casino
Epiphone Casino
The Epiphone Casino is a thinline hollow body electric guitar manufactured by Epiphone, a branch of Gibson. It is essentially Epiphone's version of the Gibson ES-330...

 and Gibson J-160E
Gibson J-160E
The Gibson J-160E is one of the first acoustic-electric guitar models produced by the Gibson Guitar Corporation.A major problem with playing an acoustic guitar in live settings is that it is often quite difficult to hear...

, and, from the start of his solo career, the Gibson Les Paul Junior
Gibson Les Paul Junior
The Gibson Les Paul Jr. is a solid body electric guitar introduced in 1954 as an affordable, entry level Les Paul. It was first released with a single cut body style however models with a double cut body style were later introduced in 1958.-History:...

. Occasionally he played a six-string bass guitar, the Fender Bass VI
Fender Bass VI
The Fender Bass VI, originally known as the Fender VI, is a six-string electric bass or Scale Baritone Guitar by Fender.The Fender VI was released in 1961, and followed the concept of the Danelectro 6-string bass released in 1956, having six strings tuned E-E, an octave below the Spanish guitar...

, providing bass on some Beatles' numbers that occupied McCartney with another instrument. His other instrument of choice was the piano, on which he composed many songs, including "Imagine", described as his best-known solo work. His jamming on a piano with McCartney in 1963 led to the creation of The Beatles' first US number one, "I Want to Hold Your Hand
I Want to Hold Your Hand
"I Want to Hold Your Hand" is a song by the English rock band The Beatles. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and recorded in October 1963, it was the first Beatles record to be made using four-track equipment....

". In 1964, he became one of the first British musicians to acquire a Mellotron
Mellotron
The Mellotron is an electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard originally developed and built in Birmingham, England in the early 1960s. It superseded the Chamberlin Music Master, which was the world's first sample-playback keyboard intended for music...

 keyboard, though it was not heard on a Beatles' recording until "Strawberry Fields Forever" in late 1966.

Vocal style

When Lennon recorded "Twist and Shout
Twist and Shout
"Twist and Shout" is a song written by Phil Medley and Bert Russell. It was originally titled "Shake It Up, Baby" and recorded by the Top Notes and then covered by The Isley Brothers. It was covered by The Beatles with John Lennon on the lead vocals and originally released on their first album...

", the final track during the mammoth one-day session that captured the band's 1963 debut album Please Please Me
Please Please Me
Please Please Me is the debut album by the English rock band The Beatles. Parlophone rush-released the album on 22 March 1963 in the United Kingdom to capitalise on the success of singles "Please Please Me" and "Love Me Do" .Of the album's fourteen songs, eight were written by Lennon–McCartney...

, his voice, already compromised by a cold, came close to giving out. Lennon said, "I couldn't sing the damn thing, I was just screaming." In the words of biographer Barry Miles, "Lennon simply shredded his vocal cords in the interests of rock 'n' roll." The Beatles' producer, George Martin
George Martin
Sir George Henry Martin CBE is an English record producer, arranger, composer and musician. He is sometimes referred to as "the Fifth Beatle"— a title that he often describes as "nonsense," but the fact remains that he served as producer on all but one of The Beatles' original albums...

, tells how Lennon "had an inborn dislike of his own voice which I could never understand. He was always saying to me: 'DO something with my voice! ... put something on it ... Make it different.'" Martin obliged, often using double-tracking and other techniques. Music critic Robert Christgau says that Lennon's "greatest vocal performance ... from scream to whine, is modulated electronically ... echoed, filtered, and double tracked."

As his Beatles' era segued into his solo career, his singing voice found a widening range of expression. Biographer Chris Gregory writes that Lennon was, "tentatively beginning to expose his insecurities in a number of acoustic-led 'confessional' ballads, so beginning the process of 'public therapy' that will eventually culminate in the primal screams of 'Cold Turkey' and the cathartic John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was received with high critical praise upon release. Critic Greil Marcus remarked, "John's singing in the last verse of 'God' may be the finest in all of rock." In early 1971, the album reached number eight on the UK and went to number six in the US, spending eighteen...

." David Stuart Ryan notes Lennon's vocal delivery to range from, "extreme vulnerability, sensitivity and even naivety" to a hard "rasping" style. Wiener too describes contrasts, saying the singer's voice can be "at first subdued; soon it almost cracks with despair" Music historian Ben Urish recalls hearing The Beatles' Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show is an American TV variety show that originally ran on CBS from Sunday June 20, 1948 to Sunday June 6, 1971, and was hosted by New York entertainment columnist Ed Sullivan....

 performance of "This Boy
This Boy
"This Boy" is a song by English rock band The Beatles released in November 1963 as the B-side of the British Parlophone single "I Want to Hold Your Hand". The Beatles performed it live on 16 February 1964 for their second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show...

" played on the radio a few days after Lennon's murder: "As Lennon's vocals reached their peak ... it hurt too much to hear him scream with such anguish and emotion. But it was my emotions I heard in his voice. Just like I always had."

Legacy

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
Liam Gallagher
William John Paul "Liam" Gallagher is an English musician and singer-songwriter, the former frontman of the English rock band Oasis and currently of the band Beady Eye. Gallagher's erratic behaviour, distinctive singing style, and abrasive attitude have been the subject of commentary in the press...

, his group Oasis
Oasis (band)
Oasis were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1991. Originally known as The Rain, the group was formed by Liam Gallagher , Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs , Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan and Tony McCarroll , who were soon joined by Liam's older brother Noel Gallagher...

 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. On National Poetry Day in 1999, after conducting a poll to identify the UK's favourite song lyric, the BBC announced "Imagine" the winner.

In a 2006 Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

 article, Jon Wiener wrote:
"For young people in 1972, it was thrilling to see Lennon's courage in standing up to [US President] Nixon. That willingness to take risks with his career, and his life, is one reason why people still admire him today."
Whilst for music historians Urish and Bielen, Lennon's most significant effort was "the self-portraits ... in his songs [which] spoke to, for, and about, the human condition."

Lennon continues to be mourned throughout the world and has been the subject of numerous memorials and tributes. In 2010, on what would have been Lennon’s 70th birthday, the John Lennon Peace Monument
John Lennon Peace Monument
The John Lennon Peace Monument, in Liverpool, England, is a peace monument dedicated to the memory of John Lennon.Also known as the European Peace Monument, it was unveiled by Julian and Cynthia Lennon at a ceremony in Chavasse Park, Liverpool, on Saturday October 9, 2010 to celebrate what would...

 was unveiled in Chavasse Park, Liverpool, by Cynthia and Julian Lennon. The sculpture entitled ‘Peace & Harmony’ exhibits peace symbols and carries the inscription “Peace on Earth for the Conservation of Life · In Honour of John Lennon 1940–1980”.

Awards and sales

The Lennon/McCartney songwriting partnership is regarded as one of the most influential and successful of the 20th century. As performer, writer or co-writer Lennon has had 25 number one singles on the US Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

 chart. His album sales in the US stand at 14 million units. Double Fantasy
Double Fantasy
Double Fantasy is an album released by John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, in 1980. Though initially poorly received, the album is notable for its association with Lennon's murder three weeks after its release, whereupon it become a worldwide commercial success, and went on to win the 1981 Album...

, released shortly before his death, and his best-selling, post-Beatles' studio album at three million shipments in the US, won the 1981 Grammy Award for Album of the Year
Grammy Award for Album of the Year
The Grammy Award for Album of the Year is the most prestigious award category at the Grammys. It has been awarded since 1959 and though it was originally presented to the artist alone, the award is now presented to the artist, the producer, the engineer and/or mixer and the mastering engineer...

. The following year, the BRIT Award
Brit Awards
The Brit Awards are the British Phonographic Industry's annual pop music awards. The name was originally a shortened form of "British", "Britain" or "Britannia", but subsequently became a backronym for British Record Industry Trust...

 for Outstanding Contribution to Music went to Lennon. Participants in a 2002 BBC poll voted him eighth of "100 Greatest Britons". Between 2003 and 2008, Rolling Stone recognised Lennon in several reviews of artists and music, ranking him fifth of "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" and 38th of "The Immortals: The Fifty Greatest Artists of All Time", and his albums John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was received with high critical praise upon release. Critic Greil Marcus remarked, "John's singing in the last verse of 'God' may be the finest in all of rock." In early 1971, the album reached number eight on the UK and went to number six in the US, spending eighteen...

 and Imagine, 22nd and 76th respectively of "The RS 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 with the other Beatles in 1965. He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame
Songwriters Hall of Fame
The Songwriters Hall of Fame is an arm of the National Academy of Popular Music. It was founded in 1969 by songwriter Johnny Mercer and music publishers Abe Olman and Howie Richmond. The goal is to create a museum but as of April, 2008, the means do not yet exist and so instead it is an online...

 in 1987 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

 in 1994.



Discography


  • Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins
    Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins
    Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins is an album released by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1968. The result of an all-night session of musical experimentation in Lennon's home studio at Kenwood, John and Yoko's debut album is known not only for its avant garde content, but also for its cover...

     (with Yoko Ono) (1968)
  • Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions
    Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions
    Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions is an album of noise music released by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1969, and the successor to 1968's highly controversial Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins...

     (with Yoko Ono) (1969)
  • Wedding Album
    Wedding Album
    -CD bonus tracks:#"Who Has Seen the Wind?" - 2:05 #*A gentle and melodic folk song featuring lyrics based on the 19th century poem of the same title, written by English poet Christina Rossetti...

     (with Yoko Ono) (1969)
  • John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
    John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
    John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was received with high critical praise upon release. Critic Greil Marcus remarked, "John's singing in the last verse of 'God' may be the finest in all of rock." In early 1971, the album reached number eight on the UK and went to number six in the US, spending eighteen...

     (1970)
  • Imagine
    Imagine (album)
    Imagine is the second album by John Lennon. Recorded and released in 1971, the album tended toward songs that were gentler, more commercial and less avant-garde than those on his critically acclaimed previous album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. The album is considered the most popular of his works...

     (1971)
  • Some Time in New York City
    Some Time in New York City
    Some Time in New York City was released in 1972 and is John Lennon's third post-Beatles album, fifth with Yoko Ono, and third with producer Phil Spector...

     (with Yoko Ono) (1972)
  • Mind Games
    Mind Games
    Mind Games is John Lennon's fourth post-Beatles album, and was recorded and released in 1973. Like his previous album, the politically topical and somewhat abrasive Some Time in New York City, Mind Games was poorly received by music critics...

     (1973)
  • Walls and Bridges
    Walls and Bridges
    Walls and Bridges is the fifth album by John Lennon; it was issued on 26 September 1974 in the United States and on 4 October in the United Kingdom. Written, recorded and released during his 18-month separation from Yoko Ono , the album captures Lennon in the midst of The Lost Weekend...

     (1974)
  • Rock 'n' Roll
    Rock 'n' Roll (John Lennon album)
    Rock 'n' Roll is a 1975 album of late 1950s and early 1960s songs covered by John Lennon. Recording the album was problematic and spanned a year. Though critically derided, it reached #6 in both the United Kingdom and the United States.-History:...

     (1975)
  • Double Fantasy
    Double Fantasy
    Double Fantasy is an album released by John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, in 1980. Though initially poorly received, the album is notable for its association with Lennon's murder three weeks after its release, whereupon it become a worldwide commercial success, and went on to win the 1981 Album...

     (with Yoko Ono) (1980)
  • Milk and Honey (with Yoko Ono) (1984)
  • Menlove Ave.
    Menlove Ave.
    Menlove Ave. is a 1986 album by English rock musician John Lennon. It is the second posthumous release of Lennon's music, having been recorded during the sessions from his albums, Walls and Bridges and Rock 'n' Roll...

     (1986)

Further reading

  • Kane, Larry
    Larry Kane
    Larry Kane is an American journalist best known as the only American reporter whom The Beatles let travel with them on their 1964 and 1965 North American tours. Kane authored a book about his experiences on the tour, called Ticket To Ride, and Lennon Revealed, a New York Times and Los Angeles...

     (2007). Lennon Revealed. Running Press. ISBN 9780762429660
  • Pang, May; Edwards, Henry (1983). Loving John: The Untold Story. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-37916-6.
  • Wiener, Jon. The John Lennon FBI Files
  • Yorke, Richard (1969). "John Lennon: Ringo’s Right, We Can’t Tour Again", New Musical Express, 7 June 1969, reproduced by Crawdaddy!
    Crawdaddy!
    Crawdaddy! was the first U.S. magazine of rock and roll music criticism. Created in 1966 by college student Paul Williams in response to the increasing sophistication and cultural influence of popular music, Crawdaddy! was self-described as "the first magazine to take rock and roll...

    , 2007.


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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