"When I was about 12, I used to think
I must be a genius, but nobody's noticed. If there is such a thing as a
genius, I am one.
If there isn't, I don't care."
John Lennon (1940-1980) is
one of the most fascinating personalities of the twentieth century. Probably
best known as a member of the Beatles, John made a significant impact on
society through his music and philosophy.
Born in working-class Liverpool, England, on October 9, 1940, John escaped
a somewhat turbulent adolescence to become an integral part of the Fab
Four from 1962 to 1970. John first married Cynthia
Powell, and they had a son named Julian
(1963- ). With Paul McCartney,
John wrote several timeless classics during his Beatles days. John's creativity
(augmented sometimes by LSD) took music to a new level -- and set precedents
which still inspire musicians thirty years later. The Beatles became essential
to the psychedelic sound of 1967 with such songs as "I Am The Walrus" and
"Strawberry Fields Forever."
In 1969, John's life became complete when he married
Japanese avant-garde artist Yoko Ono -- his only true love. Yoko joined
him that year for the famous bed-in for peace which resulted in the song
"Give Peace A Chance."
"Anybody who claims to have some interest
in me as an individual artist or even as part of the Beatles has absolutely
misunderstood everything I ever said if they can't see why I'm with Yoko.
And if they can't see that, they don't see anything."
After the break-up of the Beatles in 1970, John
pursued a solo career and continued his political activism. On his own,
John became known for his brutally honest lyrics and bitter confessionals
of insecurity. Also in 1973, John and Yoko separated for several months
-- a time known as "The Lost Weekend" -- which many viewed as John's last
attempt to find himself.
After a handful of solo albums -- one of which
yielded the hit "Whatever Gets You Through The Night" -- Lennon fulfilled
a longtime dream of recording an album of his favorite rock-n-roll songs.
Also, John and Yoko reunited in November 1974, never to be apart.
The birth of Sean Lennon followed in 1975 (coincidentally
on John's birthday), concurrent with John's complete departure from
the music scene. During his self-imposed retirement, John dropped from
the spotlight to raise Sean and spend some time as a "househusband." (John
enjoyed baking during this time, and is known to have taken a photograph
of a loaf of bread he was particularly fond of.) Also during this time,
John wrote much of the material which would eventually form 1986's posthumous
book "Skywriting By Word of Mouth." As evidenced by some of the demos featured
on the recent John Lennon Anthology, John was still a busy songwriter,
even if he did keep it to himself.
"While there's life, there's hope."
In the fall of 1980, John and Yoko made an optimistic
comeback with their album "Double Fantasy" which featured songs such as,
"(Just Like) Starting Over" and "Woman." John had a fresh approach to the
new decade, and seemed happy to be alive. Ironically, it was December 8,
1980, when John was murdered in front of his home at the Dakota Building
in New York City. For many who lived through the sixties, this forever
became the day the music died.
John was more than a
musician. He was an artist. A poet. A writer. A father. A husband. A
visionary. A creative spirit. A sense of humor. A genuinely honest
person who had nothing to hide. The writer of "Imagine" was all of these
and more -- and his positive influence will always be remembered.