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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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