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Biography Of John Lennon Essay, Research Paper
The Legend of Lennon
By Kathleen Kane
Featured in print more than any other popular artist, John Winston Ono Lennon was
considered by many to be the greatest rock musician in the world. Not only the unofficial
founder of the most successful group in music history, but also a role model for young and old,
Lennon inspired an entire generation and his legacy continues. He is remembered for being an
advocate for peace and the rights of every human being, as well as a huge contributor to modern
music. He was a composer, then a poet and author, later an artist, moralist, philosopher,
crackpot, father, and finally a victim. He became a legend from every angle, but his character
was largely a facade. Most everything that people saw in him or expected him to be was a
fabrication. The real John Lennon can only be discovered by ?reading between the lines?.
Born on October 9, 1940, John Lennon was a native of Liverpool England. His father,
Alfred Lennon was away fighting in WWII at the time of John?s birth. As a toddler, he was
raised primarily by his mother, Julia Lennon. When John?s father returned in 1944, he found
his wife was pregnant with another man?s child. The couple filed for divorce immediately and
John and his mother moved in with her boyfriend. His parents fought over custody for a long
time, yet when Julia was finally awarded parental rights, she turned them over to her sister,
John?s Aunt Mimi. From the age of 5 to 17, he lived with his aunt and her husband. He never
saw his father and rarely was allowed to visit with his mom, although she only lived about a mile
As a teenager, John began to release his creative energy through rock and roll. He was
inspired by artists such as Elvis Presley to write and play his own music. In 1955, his aunt
bought him an inexpensive guitar. Later that year his uncle died and his mother re-entered his
life. This was a difficult adjusting period for John. On one hand, he was distraught over losing
the only father figure he had ever known and on the other he was overjoyed that his mother
started to come around. In 1957 he started a band called the Query Men with some friends from
his highschool, Query Bank. Several weeks later, John met Paul McCartney at a gig, and Paul
joined the band. In 1958, George Harrison joined too.
Although he failed the SATs, John was accepted and enrolled in the Liverpool Art
College in 1957 only because of the artistic talent he possessed. He did very little schoolwork
while attending college, and he nearly flunked out. The most important thing that came out of
John?s attendance was his meeting Cynthia Powell, another student. They eventually dated and
she was the only thing that got him through his mother?s death in 1958. He also met Stu Sutcliffe
who was a promising art major. John convinced him to buy a guitar, and he then let him in the
band that he and McCartney were putting together.
The original Beatles were Lennon, McCartney, Pete Best, George Harrison, and Sutcliffe.
John, Paul, and George played the guitar, Pete was on the drums, and Stu was on the bass. They
started at local nightclubs, barely bringing in any money. The band played under various names,
including ?Johnny and the Moon Dogs?. John came up with ?The Beatles? in 1959 because he
liked the name of the American band the ?Crickets?. Big on puns, he changed Beetles to
Beatles, after the ?beat groups? that were popular in Europe. In 1960, the group got a gig playing
at a nightclub in Germany. Because they had never performed for so long, they realized they
needed to change their act by adding more songs and choreography. Each member began to
drink to heavily and abuse diet pills, but it didn?t slow them down. In Germany, the act drew
more and more crowds. Although very busy, Lennon wrote heartfelt letters back home to
Cynthia. The band returned to England in 1961, partly because George was discovered as
underage and was deported. In 1962, Stu had left the group to marry a woman he met in
Germany, then he died of a brain tumor that was probably caused by damage to his brain that
was inflicted in a bar fight. Pete Best was replaced as drummer that same year by Ringo Starr.
Upon the band?s return to Germany, Cynthia announced that she was pregnant and John insisted
they get married. The big day took place in Liverpool on August 23, 1963.
The band made their debut in America in 1964 on the Ed Sullivan Show. They were an
instant sensation, partly due to the fact that President Kennedy had just been killed and people
were looking for something new to lift their spirits. John?s son Julian was born later that year.
Although the Beatles were making a killing off of their albums, movies, and concerts,
Lennon knew there was something missing in his life. He tried to fill the void by doing LSD and
various other drugs with George Harrison and their wives. The public never looked deeper into
the songs he wrote. They just sang along, never realizing that this artist was severely depressed
and was seeking refuge through lyrics like ?Help me if you can I?m feeling down…help me get
my feet back on the ground?. His depression mainly resulted from not feeling like he was
expressing himself as an artist, which was the thing he loved most about his career.
On a trip from the United States back to England, John met the woman who would later
fill the emptiness he had inside. He went to an avant-garde art exhibit by Yoko Ono, a Japanese
artist that stood no more than four feet and eleven inches tall. Fascinated by her art and her
mysterious personality, Lennon became a patron of her work. In 1968, he became romantically
involved with Yoko and he and Cynthia divorced. Cynthia was awarded custody of Julian, and
John rarely saw him after that. It had been an unwritten rule for the Beatles that the recording
studio was off limits to wives and girlfriends. The rule had always been followed
up until 1968, when John started to bring Yoko. The rest of the band never complained, although
silently they resented her. She didn?t just watch rehearsal, she insisted on criticizing the
performances and making suggestions that were interpreted more as demands.
They called her names behind her back, which John took personally. He felt that she had given
him more inspiration in nine months than they had in nine years. John and Yoko put out a very
controversial album that year called Two Virgins, which was banned from sale in England
because the cover was regarded as ?pornographic?. On March 20, 1968, John Lennon and Yoko
Ono were married.
It was all down hill for the Beatles from there. They began to quarrel all the time. Paul
and John were disgusted with each other?s lyrics. George felt his lyrics were completely ignored
by John and Paul, and Ringo actually considered quitting the group because he was so unhappy.
Rehearsals and recoding sessions, which had all ways been lively and fun for the Beatles, were
now nothing but a hassle and a frustration. They played their last concert together in San
Francisco in 1966. They tried to reunite to record Let It Be, but they were all hostile and their
attempts to make peace with one another again proved futile. The last time the Beatles appeared
together for the public was on January 30, 1969. The Beatles were too big to walk away silently.
Their breakup became one of the bloodiest in music history.
John flew solo for a long time after that, releasing albums, writing songs, and painting.
He and Yoko become advocates for peace and spoke out against the Vietnam War. John
recorded ?Give Peace a Chance? as part of his protest. In 1970 Yoko and John came back to the
U.S. They bought a mansion called Dakota in New York City. Yoko gave birth to Sean Ono Taro
Lennon in 1975, on John?s 35th birthday. After that John stepped out of the public eye. He
became a ?house husband?, taking care of his son and rarely ever leaving his house. Yoko took
care of all of the finances and John raised their son. He didn?t even write music for a period of
about five years. He had felt very guilty about not being there to watch his first born, Julian,
grow up, so he was trying to make up for it by devoting his whole life to Sean. In 1980, he began
to write music and produce albums again. On December 9, 1980, he left his house to go
the recording studio. When he stepped outside, a man later identified as Mark David Chapman
asked him for his autograph. Not wanting to disappoint a fan, John signed an album cover for
him. Chapman waited for him to return outside of his house for six hours. When John finally
came back, Chapman shot at him five times, hitting him twice in the back and twice in the
shoulder. His death marked the end of an era. People all over the world mourned his death.
Thousands of fans gathered in front of Dakota upon his death. Crying they sang ?Give Peace a
The impact John Lennon had on society was immense to say the least. His influence was
world wide, and he impacted the U.S. as much as any other place on Earth, if not more. Because
the Beatles made their debut on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964, people were overjoyed to have
something new to be excited about. The entire country had been mourning over the recent death
of President Kennedy and this gave them something to be happy about again. You could almost
say that the Beatles brought the entire country out of depression. He and the Beatles
created a whole new style of music. They were the first group to take rock and roll music beyond
guitars and drums and to experiment with new technology like synthesizers and equalizers. They
were the most successful group in music history and Lennon was the definite driving force
behind their success. Holding the top five spots on the countdowns in three continents is a record
that Lennon and McCartney songs set that is still not even close to being broken. From 1964 to
1970, the Beatles had over 60 songs on the U.S. charts, more than half of which made the top
ten. People everywhere wanted to be just like them, including starting bands and getting
matching haircuts. Everything they said and did was imitated. Attendance broke record on their
summer tour of 1964, which went to Europe, U.S., Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, and New
Zealand. They had a tremendous influence on millions of fans and inspired future bands like the
?Rolling Stones? and ?GunsNRoses?. Their songs are still played on the radio today. Their
movie, Hard Days Night, was a forerunner for the modern music videos, which are so common
today. John Lennon made a huge impact as a solo artist, as well. His lyrics
made people think and often put them in touch with emotions that they had not been aware of
before. Songs such as Imagine represent the era so well that they are often used as themes in
movies or shows about the 1960’s or the Vietnam War. Mr. Holland?s Opus and Forest Gump are
two good examples of this. His songs were about compassion and understanding for others, a
style which was ahead of his time. People listened and followed his message. ?Blues Traveler?
and ?The Dave Mathews Band?even teamed up to remake Imagine in 1995. ?Give Peace A
Chance? is probably John Lennon?s most used and recognized song. It is an anthem for all who
are opposed to violence and want to live in harmony. John Melloncamp talked about the death of
John Lennon is his song ?Key West Intermezzo?. These are just a few example of how John
Lennon?s music has impacted different musicians and activists.
Because of John Lennon?s impact on the music industry, many of his fans were willing to
do anything he said and wanted to be exactly like him. This gave Lennon a lot of influence in
other areas, since whatever he did was imitated and admired. He used this power both positively
and negatively. His view on religion certainly changed a lot of people?s minds about their faiths
and beliefs. His most controversial quote about religion was ?Christianity will go. It will vanish
and shrink. I needn?t argue about that. We?re more popular than Jesus now. I don?t know which
will go first- rock ?n? roll or Christianity.? He was later criticized so much for that remark in the
U.S. that he was forced to publically apologize. In England and other parts of Europe
did not seem to be offended by the remark but instead inspired. By that time he had already
affected so many minds, especially the young and impressionable minds of teenagers. Lennon?s
popularity went unaffected. As an advocate for civil rights, he changed a lot of people?s opinions
about war. He and Yoko protested the Vietnam War by doing ?bed-ins?. They would stay in bed
for days at a time and for an hour a day cameras would be brought in and they would host a show
from their bedroom and talk about peace as well as other domestic and world issues. People
would watch and be encouraged to stand up for peace. Lennon later stated that the main purpose
of the bed-ins was to make people aware of how they could make a difference and also to draw
attention to the immorality of war. Protests like these impacted many people in the way John had
intended to. As a big believer in the power of advertisements, he had a huge billboard posted in
time square that said ?War is Over! (If you want it) Happy Christmas from John and Yoko?. His
1967 movie, How I Won the War was another was he reached people about the issue of death
and destruction. President Nixon, however, was negatively affected by Lennon?s protests, since
he was essentially the reason the U.S. entered the Vietnam War. He got a lot of negative reviews
as President because of this. Because of Lennon?s politics, the Nixon administration had the FBI
keep watch on him, trying to find a reason to deport him, claiming he was a ?threat to national
security?. Although Lennon was able to convince his followers to ?give peace a chance?, he also
had a harmful impact on them. As one of the first celebrities to condone using drugs, he was a
bad influence on teens. He openly smoked marijuana and drank to the point of intoxication, as
well as used heroine and LSD. He had been arrested and sent to jail in England over illegal
possession of marijuana. He also had a public affair with Yoko Ono while married to Cynthia,
which sent a negative message to the public. Other harmful impacts included his encouragement
of promiscuousness and his risque style, including the photo on the album cover of Two Virgins.
He was also not much of a father to his first son Julian, which may not have had such an
influence except for the fact that so many people wanted to be exactly like him, and every single
choice he made was imitated, even if it was wrong. People thought that ?if John Lennon does it,
it must be ok.? John Lennon has had almost as great an impact in death as he did in life. His
death signaled the end of an era. Six days after his death people around the world held a ten
minute tribute to him. He is remembered as a musical genius and an idealist, and his message
lives on even today through his songs, which have been cherished by 3 generations. His message
will never die.
Lennon?s association with famous people included Ringo Star, Paul McCartney, Elvis
Presley, Richard Nixon, and Eric Clapton. He helped to make Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr
famous because they probably never would have been without the Beatles. Since Lennon was
the leader of the Beatles and he asked them to join the group, they owe their success to him in a
sense. Elvis Presley was affected by the success of the Beatles because before they came to the
United States, he was ?big cheese? of the music industry, and when the Beatles came, he had to
share the lime lite. Needless to say, he was not a big Beatles fan, although he had been a huge
role model for them, especially John. Richard Nixon was associated a lot with Lennon because
of his attempts to rid the country of him. He hated Lennon?s protests because they made him
look bad. Eric Clapton played a lot of benefit concerts with John Lennon and at one point it was
rumored that they had plans to start a group after the breakup of the Beatles.
I have so many thoughts and opinions about this project that I honestly don?t know where
to begin. Although the idea of this research paper was to learn about some one and to manage
my time well, I really got a lot more out of it than that. This may sound dumb, but I really
learned a lot about myself in doing this project. I think of myself as being really original and
having really unique views of the world, as John Lennon did. The biggest thing I gained from
this project is that I learned that one person really can change the world. All you need to have is
confidence and believe whole-heartedly in what you are doing and anything is really possible.
Although I didn?t believe in some of his habits or the things he stood for, I am a strong believer
in his general message, which is understanding and tolerance of others. To me diversity is not
what makes us hate, it?s our inability to accept each other. I also learned in this project that
although John Lennon was many things to many people, he was not fully understood. I was
influenced a lot by Lennon, just in reading about him and listening to his songs. I feel the way
he does about war and about killing. I love that he could take his opinion, put it into song, and
change so many people?s views. I think that being able to put your influence to good work is the
most important thing you can do as a leader. He taught me that you have to think for yourself,
and go against the grain sometimes. Lemmings follow each other to a tragic end, and if people
refuse to think for themselves and form their own opinions about things, I think they will end up
the same way. He was seen as very strong and bold, but I think that inside he was just like
everyone else and he lived his whole life behind a mask of confidence. People didn?t realize
his pain or they just didn?t want to see it. I really enjoyed doing this project and learning about
such a controversial person. I realize now that it isn?t worth being an artist if its not to express
yourself. That?s what art and music is really all about. As importantly depending on what you do
with your power, you could end up changing the course of history.
John Lennon was different from other performers. As he once said, ?I was different all
my life….Nobody seems to understand where I?m coming from. I seem to see things different
than most people?.. That quote definitely sums up his entire life. He did things differently and
was successful. He was an amazing person who used his talent to get through to people the way
no one else could. He had an amazing power to use rock ?n? roll as a way of voicing his opinion
and touching the heart and soul of people everywhere. His perception of life was different than
most people?s, which is what makes him so interesting to research. Adored by millions of
people all over the world, his achievements and breakthroughs in the music industry as well his
impacts on society will never be forgotten.
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