John Winston Ono Lennon, (October 9, 1940 每 December 8, 1980), was best known as a singer, songwriter, poet and guitarist for the British rock band The Beatles. His creative career also included the roles of solo musician, political activist, artist, actor and author. As half of the legendary Lennon-McCartney songwriting team, he heavily influenced the development of rock music, leading it towards more serious and political messages.
He is recognized as one of the greatest musical icons of the 20th century and many of his songs, such as Imagine and Strawberry Fields Forever, are often ranked among the best songs in popular music history. In 2002, the BBC conducted a vote to discover the 100 Greatest Britons of all time, and the British public voted Lennon into 8th place.
Role in the Beatles
Lennon had a profound influence on rock and roll and in expanding the genre's boundaries during the 1960s. He is widely considered, along with songwriting partner Paul McCartney, as one of the most influential singer-songwriter-musicians of the 20th century. Many of the songs written exclusively or primarily by Lennon, however, are more introspective — often in the first person — and more personal than McCartney's. His most surreal pieces of songwriting, Strawberry Fields Forever and I Am the Walrus, are fine examples of his unique style. Lennon's partnership in songwriting with McCartney many times involved him in complementing and counterbalancing McCartney's upbeat positive outlook with the other side of the coin, as one of their songs, Getting Better demonstrates:
McCartney: I have to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time.
Lennon: It can't get much worse!
Of the four former Beatles, Lennon had perhaps the most varied recording career. While he was still a Beatle, Lennon and Ono recorded three albums of experimental and difficult electronic music, Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins, Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions, and Wedding Album. His first 'solo' album of popular music was Live Peace in Toronto 1969, recorded in 1969 (prior to the breakup of the Beatles) at the Rock 'n' Roll Festival in Toronto with The Plastic Ono Band, which included Eric Clapton and Klaus Voormann. He also recorded three singles in his initial solo phase, the anti-war anthem Give Peace a Chance, Cold Turkey (about his struggles with heroin addiction) and Instant Karma!
Following the Beatles' split in 1970, he released the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album. This was followed in 1971 by Imagine, his most successful solo album, which alternates in tone between dreaminess and anger. The title track has become an anthem for anti-war movements, and was matched in image by Lennon's white period (white clothes, white piano, white room ...)
Perhaps in reaction, his next album, Some Time in New York City, was loud, raucous, and explicitly political, with songs about prison riots, racial and sexual relations. Lennon's retirement, which he began following the birth of his second son, Sean in 1975, lasted until 1980 when Lennon, for the first time in five years, picked up his guitar again.For this comeback, he and Ono produced Double Fantasy, a concept album dealing with their relationship.
In the late afternoon of December 8, 1980, in New York City, deranged fan Mark David Chapman met Lennon as he left for the recording studio and got his copy of Double Fantasy autographed; the event of Lennon signing one of his last autographs was caught by a photographer who witnessed this goodwill gesture. Chapman remained in the vicinity of The Dakota for most of the day as a fireworks demonstration in nearby Central Park distracted the doorman and passers-by.
Later that evening, Lennon and Ono returned to their apartment from recording Ono's single Walking on Thin Ice for their next album. At 10.50pm, their limousine pulled up to the entrance of the Dakota. Ono got out of the car first, followed by Lennon. Beyond the main entrance was a door which would be opened and a small set of stairs leading into the apartment complex. As Ono went in, Lennon got out of the car and glanced at Chapman, proceeding on through the entrance to the Dakota.
As Lennon walked past him, Chapman called out Mr. Lennon. As Lennon turned, Chapman crouched into what witnesses called a combat stance and fired five hollowpoint bullets. One bullet missed, but four bullets entered John's back and shoulder. One of the four bullets fatally pierced his aorta. Still, Lennon managed to stagger up six steps into the concierge booth where he collapsed, gasping I'm shot, I'm shot.
Chapman stood there, holding his .38 Charter Arms revolver, which was pulled out of his hands and kicked away by Jose Perdomo who then asked What have you done, what have you done?, to which Chapman replied I just shot John Lennon. Chapman then calmly took his coat off, placed it at his feet, took out a a copy of J.D. Salinger's novel, The Catcher in the Rye, and started reading.
Police arrived within minutes, to find Chapman still waiting quietly outside, still reading the book.
The two officers transported Lennon to Roosevelt Hospital in the back of their squad car as they thought John was too badly hurt to take the risk of waiting for an ambulance. One of the officers asked Lennon if he knew who he was. Lennon's reply is reported to have been Yeah or simply a nod of the head before he passed out. Despite extensive resuscitative efforts in the Emergency Department, Lennon had lost over 80% of his blood volume and died of shock at the age of 40. A stunned nation was informed of his death by Dr. Stephen Lynn who shortly before had broken the devastating news privately to anxiously waiting Yoko.
When asked once in the 1960s how he expected to die, Lennon's offhand answer was I'll probably be popped off by some loony. In retrospect, although he might have meant it as a joke and did not expect it to happen, the comment turned out to be chillingly accurate. Another chillingly accurate comment was made in his last interview, where he mentioned that he often felt that somebody is stalking him: first it was federal agents in the 1970s trying to deport him and later the obsessed fan in 1980.