Any debate about who were the most influential pop performers of the twentieth century would almost certainly include John Lennon as part of the Beatles and then as a solo performer in later years.
He was born on the 9th October 1940 in Liverpool. His first band, which was formed whilst he was a teenager, was called The Quarrymen. The name came from the school he attended which was Quarry Bank High School. For a first band, or any band for that matter, the line-up was Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. The name of the band was changed to The Beatles and the rest, as they say, is history.
Initially they played the clubs around Liverpool including the iconic Cavern Bar. But later, they turned their attention overseas and performed at clubs in Hamburg, Germany. When their single, “Love Me Do” was released in 1963, Beatlemania was born and their careers took off.
Within a year they had broken into the American music market and even appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, one of the highest profile talk shows on TV. Two years later, the Queen awarded each of them an MBE for services to the music industry. John Lennon had always held strong personal values and four years later, he returned his award as a protest against war.
If nothing else, fame is often transient and it took an offhand remark by Lennon saying that The Beatles “were bigger than Jesus” that perhaps signalled a change in their fortunes. There were protests from factions within the audiences at their concerts which culminated in the group giving up appearing live and instead, concentrating on working in the studio.
During these years, Lennon had been married, but in the latter part of the 1960s, he met an artist named Yoko Ono. It has been said that she was the reason for The Beatles breaking up but there are just as many other voices with the opposite view.
Lennon and Ono began recording together. At first, audience appreciation was slow. But in the early 1970s, they produced the song “Imagine” which became their biggest hit. For a while, Lennon and Ono split apart but were reunited again at an Elton John concert. They had a son, Sean and Ono became Lennon’s business manager.
They were now living in New York and life appeared to be settling down. Their apartment overlooked Central Park and was part of a block called The Dakotas. And it was here that Lennon met his death. On the 8th December 1980, Lennon was about to enter the building when a deranged ex-fan named Mark Chapman fired four shots into his back. Lennon died soon after and the world lost a talented composer who genuinely cared about the planet and the people on it.