John LENNON |
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United Kingdom 1940 - 1980
John Winston Ono Lennon (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter, and peace activist who co-founded the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He and fellow member Paul McCartney formed a much-celebrated songwriting partnership. Along with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, the group would ascend to worldwide fame during the 1960s.
Art was actually Lennon's first love. He began drawing long before he had a guitar. He attended the prestigious Liverpool Art Institute for three years (1957-1960) before the Beatles became a full-time occupation. He continued to draw throughout his life. Johns primary medium was line drawing either in pen, pencil, or Japanese sumi ink. His drawings became illustrations for three best selling books that he wrote in the 60's. In addition, a complete suite of the "Bag One" portfolio of lithographs is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His original drawings are also being collected by museums throughout the world.
At the time of his death John had saved and preserved several hundred drawings that he considered important. His drawings are whimsical yet poetic and are a commentary on his everyday life, his wife Yoko and their son.
John Lennon, a loving husband... a dad... a renaissance man…
The Artwork of John Lennon:
John Lennon was born in Liverpool in the autumn of 1940. The Battle of Britain had just ended, but the war with Germany was far from over. It was into this unsound environment that John Lennon emerged. Who would have thought that he would become such a multi talented musical genius?
John’s early years were certainly not easy. His father worked away for long periods on a ship, and essentially he was raised by his aunt. Subsequently his father emigrated to New Zealand, depriving his son of guidance in his formative years. It is perhaps understandable that John Lennon became disruptive at school. The death of his uncle is also said to have had a weighty impact on the adolescent, and he may have become yet another statistic in the grim Merseyside environment. The turning point in his life though came when he developed a strong interest in skiffle, a type of rock and roll music, whilst in his teenage years.
It was while playing for a skiffle band he had formed at school that he met Paul McCartney. The two struck up an immediate friendship, and developed a fine partnership, writing and composing songs. After performing under several band names the pair, along with George Harrison and Pete Best, settled on calling themselves The Beatles. They played eight-hour shifts at various nightclubs in Hamburg, and were popular at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. The drummer, Pete Best, was not particularly good though and held them back. The decision was made to replace him with Ringo Starr, and soon afterwards The Beatles were signed by George Martin for EMI records.
The band began churning out hit after hit, with numerous number ones. Lennon and McCartney were the creative force behind the group, and the amount of quality material they produced was amazing. They began touring the world and were hugely popular, especially in the US. This all changed however, when at a press conference, John Lennon claimed the band were more popular than Jesus, provoking outrage throughout America. Collectively, they all agreed to put an end to the tours and returned home in 1966.
Around this time, Lennon met Yoko Ono. Although the couple were immediately attracted to each other, John was married to Cynthia Powell and they had a child. It soon became clear to her though, where John’s affections lie, and she filed for divorce. John and Yoko subsequently married in 1969. In those early years together, they devoured a fair quantity of psychedelics such as LSD, and stories of violence towards one another were rife in the press.
In 1970, Paul McCartney quit the Beatles, causing tension between himself and John. A year later Lennon released the hugely popular ‘Imagine’ album. Together he and Yoko campaigned for world peace. Calling for an end to the Vietnam War offended the American government deeply, and he nearly lost his green card as a result.
From 1975 to 1979, John Lennon produced no music of any real quality, preferring to stay at home with his young son Sean, whom Yoko had borne. If he had known what was to follow it is highly likely that he would have stuck with that peaceful lifestyle.
Unable to repress the musical genius inside himself, he wrote the excellent album ‘Double Fantasy’. On December 8, 1980, he was accosted by a young man outside his plush apartment in New York and asked to sign a copy of the album. Thinking nothing of it Lennon went about his business. Upon returning to the apartment later that day, that young man, the addled and demented Mark Chapman, shot and killed John Lennon.
Chapman was to receive a life sentence for his lunacy, but the rest of the world was deprived of yet more musical brilliance from the former Beatle. Lets all be glad at least, that he gave us a taste of his magic.
Written by Simon Heseltine
Biography (more info):
Singer, songwriter, co-founded the Beatles; from Liverpool. The murder of John Lennon, who in so many ways represented the heart and soul not just of the Beatles but of all '60s rock'n'roll, was perhaps the most emotionally felt of all rock deaths. Certainly there was an equal outpouring of emotion for Elvis Presley, and perhaps as much in some quarters for Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin. But John Lennon's death was more stunning than any of them. He was just emerging from a long period of silence with a vigor as surprising as it was refreshing, and he seemed in command of his powers as never before, at a time when rock'n'roll and the world desperately needed his voice. It was the time immediately following the first landslide election of Ronald Reagan, a discouraging prospect to so many who had embraced all that Lennon seemed to stand for and believe in. If the two events were unrelated, and clearly they were, they are indelibly linked on an emotional level. Not only had Ronald Reagan been elected president, with all his cold, brutal values coming to ascendance -- but the one rock star who seemed the warmest and most human (much of that merely public image, as it turned out) had been summarily slain a month later. Asked about Lennon's death within days of its happening, Ronald Reagan cupped a hand to an ear and then shrugged and grinned, saying something affably inaudible toward the crowd of reporters. He obviously didn't care.
But don't get mixed up about John Lennon. His true genius, which he practiced all his life, was to make people love him. As a human being, he was seriously troubled, the result of a lifetime of festering pain. Separated from his parents as an infant (his father went off to sea and his mother on to good times, the next relationship, and eventually an early death), he was raised by his aunt, Mimi Smith, in a middle-class British setting. He was a behavior problem all through school, but early on found something like salvation, or at least balm, in U.S. rock'n'roll, which he loved. He formed his first band at age sixteen. Paul McCartney attended a performance in 1957 and shortly afterward became a member. McCartney's musical skills impressed Lennon -- and Lennon's savvy impressed McCartney. Soon they had agreed that everything written by either would from that point on be credited to "Lennon-McCartney," a promise they kept fo ...
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