Rock Musician. Born John Winston Lennon in Liverpool, England. His parents separated when he was four, and his mother’s sister, Mary Smith (John’s famed Aunt Mimi) took over caring for him. Although his mother never lived more than 10 miles from him, he would only see her occasionally. As a teenager, he became caught up in the skiffle craze that was sweeping England at that time, and formed a skiffle band he called The Blackjacks, who later became The Quarry Men. It was at a Quarry Men gig in July 1957, at Woolton Fete, that he was introduced to Paul McCartney. Neither one was initially impressed with the other, until John learned that Paul could actually tune a guitar. A few weeks later, Paul joined The Quarry Men. That same year, John attended the Liverpool College of Art, where he would meet future wife Cynthia Powell along with future band mate Stuart Sutcliffe. Soon after Paul joined the band, he introduced John to a younger schoolmate, George Harrison. John accepted George into the band in 1958. The Quarry Men went through numerous line-up changes as well as name changes in 1959 and 1960. Among those were Johnny and The Moondogs, The Silver Beetles, until finally settling on The Beatles circa 1960. They traveled to Hamburg, Germany's seedy Reperbaun district at the Indra and Kaiserkeller clubs, playing grueling seven-to-eight hour sets every night. The band were eventually forced to leave Hamburg when it was discovered George was underage. The time in Hamburg made the band tighter, and they were now in demand back in England. The Beatles were playing lunch-time sessions at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, which was at that time a jazz club. It was at the Cavern in November 1961 that Brian Epstein saw the group perform. Epstein assumed the position of manager, and set about sharpening their image: Gone were the leather outfits and swearing onstage. In were tailored suits and inclusion of songs from musicals to not appear too threatening to older people. Epstein secured an audition with Decca Records in London on New Year’s Day 1962, but were rejected. They were finally picked up at Parlophone Records. Drummer Pete Best was replaced with Ringo Starr before their first recording sessions. Their first single, "Love Me Do," reached the top twenty in late 1962 on the British charts; "Please Please Me" in 1963 hit #1. The Beatles would have 11 consecutive number ones on the British charts from 1963 to 1966. American TV host Ed Sullivan witnessed "Beatlemania" in London's Heathrow Airport and he booked The Beatles to be on his show, "The Ed Sullivan Show," in February 1964. Their performance on the February 9, 1964 Sullivan show remains one of the most watched shows in television history, with a viewing audience of 73 million people. The Beatles had the Top 5 positions on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 Singles chart for the week of April 4, 1964, in addition to seven other singles, for a total of 12. The Beatles broke new musical ground with such albums as 1965's "Rubber Soul", and two years later with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," which hit number one. John's single, "All You Need Is Love," debuted on the first global satellite TV program, "Our World," in 1967, where The Beatles were chosen to represent England. Their last concert was held on August 29, 1966, in San Francisco's Candlestick Park. The Beatles started to disintegrate during the sessions for the so-called "White Album" in 1968. At various points, John, George, and Ringo quit the band. At one point, John became so disgusted, he stated he "wanted a divorce" from The Beatles. John met Japanese-born Yoko Ono in 1966 at the Indica Gallery in London, while they were married to other people. John and Yoko made their relationship public in 1968. Yoko became John's life, going so far as to include her in Beatles studio recordings. They also embarked on various recording and media stunts that included appearing in white bags in public, as well as appearing nude together on their first collaborative album, “Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins.” John and Yoko married on March 20, 1969 at the British Consulate in Gibraltar and spent their honeymoon in bed for the now legendary "bed-in for peace" at the Amsterdam Hilton in The Netherlands. In April of 1969, John changed his middle name to Ono. In November of that year, John returned his MBE (Member of the British Empire) medal, awarded in 1966, to protest British government policy against Nigeria, the Viet Nam War, and the poor chart performance of his latest single. After settling in New York, he released successful solo albums such as "Imagine" in 1971 and "Mind Games" in 1973. John faced deportation proceedings in March 1972, when his visa expired and he was told to leave the country due to his 1968 British drug conviction. During his fight, many people lined up in support of John, including New York mayor John Lindsay. From 1972 until two days before his second son's birth in 1975, John faced a few deportation threats, but on October 7, 1975 the New York State Senate reversed the deportation order and John received his Green Card in July of 1976. John returned to recording in 1980 with his first solo album in over half a decade, "Double Fantasy." On the night of December 8, 1980, John was in the walkway of The Dakota apartment building in New York City when someone said, "Mr. Lennon." John turned around and was shot at close range by a stalker. Rushed to the Emergency Room of nearby Roosevelt Hospital, he was declared dead on arrival. Posthumously, "Double Fantasy" won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1982. In 1988, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in addition to being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Beatles, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994 as a solo artist by Paul McCartney. He received a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award Grammy in 1991. Two of his demo tapes, "Free As a Bird" and "Real Love," were released to the three surviving Beatles to finish in the early 1990s. During his life, he released 11 solo albums (six of which were with Yoko), one live album, and one compilation album. One additional studio album, Milk and Honey, was released posthumously in 1984. He also released two poetry collections, "In His Own Write" (1964) and "A Spaniard In the Works" (1965). He had two children: John Charles Julian Lennon, born April 8, 1963, with Cynthia, and Sean Ono Lennon, born October 9, 1975, with Yoko.
Bio by: Donna Di Giacomo
1939–2015 (m. 1962)