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John Lennon
John Lennon Imagine
Lennon playing piano on Imagine in 1971
Artist Information
Birth Name John Winston Lennon
Born 9 October 1940
Died Age 40, December 8 1980 in New York City
Hometown Liverpool, London, England
Genres Rock, Pop, Skiffle
Website johnlennon.com
SP-Star
Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans
 
— John Lennon
John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980), was a 20th-century Academy Award and Grammy Award-winning English songwriter, singer, instrumentalist, graphic artist, author and political activist who gained worldwide fame as one of the founders of The Beatles. Lennon and Paul McCartney shared a partnership for writing songs. Lennon, with his cynical edge and knack for introspection, and McCartney, with his optimism and gift for melody, complemented one another uniquely. In his solo career, Lennon wrote and recorded songs such as "Imagine" and "Give Peace A Chance".

Lennon revealed his rebellious nature and strong wit on television, in films such as A Hard Day's Night (1964), in books such as In His Own Write, and in press conferences and interviews. He channeled his fame and penchant for controversy into his work as a peace activist, artist, and author.

He had two sons, Julian Lennon, with his first wife Cynthia Lennon, and Sean Lennon, with his second wife, avant-garde artist Yoko Ono. Lennon was murdered by a deranged fan Mark David Chapman in New York City on 8 December 1980 after he and Ono returned home from a recording session.

In 2002, respondents to a BBC poll on the 100 Greatest Britons voted Lennon into eighth place. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Lennon number 38 on their list of "The Immortals: The Fifty Greatest Artists of All Time" and ranked The Beatles at number 1. He was called "the leader Beatle." Although he was the most outspoken on all the four, he would say whatever is on his mind, like when he said that they meant more to the kids than Jesus did (simply saying that they where more popular than Jesus). Lennon was very famous in his solo work and for being a member of The Beatles.

1940-1957 (Early Years)Edit

Lennon was born on 9 October 1940 in Liverpool Maternity Hospital, Oxford Street, Liverpool, to Julia and Alfred Lennon. According to some biographers, a German air raid was taking place, and Julia's sister, Mary "Mimi" Smith, used the light cast by the explosions to see her way as she ran through the blacked-out back roads to reach the hospital.[2] Smith said later, "I knew the moment I saw John in that hospital that I was the one to be his mother, not Julia. Does that sound awful? It isn't, really, because Julia accepted it as something perfectly natural. She used to say, 'You're his real mother. All I did was give birth.'"[3] Lennon was named after his paternal grandfather, John "Jack" Lennon, and Winston Churchill.[4]

Mendipsnationaltrust

Mendips, the home of George and Mimi Smith, where Lennon lived for most of his childhood and adolescence

His father was a merchant seaman during World War II and was often away from home. At first he sent regular pay cheques to 9 Newcastle Road, Liverpool, where Lennon lived with his mother, but the cheques stopped when Alfred Lennon went absent without leave in 1943.[5]When he eventually came home in 1944, he offered to look after the family, but his wife (who was pregnant with another man's child) rejected the idea.[6] Under considerable pressure, she handed the care of Lennon over to her sister after the latter registered a complaint with Liverpool's Social Services. In July 1946, his father visited Smith and took his son to Blackpool, secretly intending to emigrate to New Zealand with him.[7] Lennon's mother followed them, and, after a heated argument, his father forced the five-year-old to choose between his parents. Lennon chose his father—twice. As his mother walked away, he began to cry and followed her. Lennon then lost contact with his father for 20 years.[8]
Mimi Smith and John Lennon

Mimi Smith (left) and John Lennon (right)

Throughout the rest of his childhood and adolescence, Lennon lived with his aunt and uncle, Mimi and George Smith, at Mendips, 251 Menlove Avenue, Woolton. The couple had no children of their own. His aunt bought him volumes of short stories, and his uncle, who was a dairyman at his family's farm, bought him a mouth organ and engaged him in solving crossword puzzles.[9] Lennon's mother visited Mendips almost every day, and when he was 11 he often visited her at 1 Blomfield Road, Liverpool. She played him Elvis Presley records, and taught him to play the banjo. The first song he learned to play was Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame".[10] Lennon's mother bought him his first guitar in 1957, a cheap Gallotone Champion acoustic "guaranteed not to split". She arranged for it to be delivered to her own house, knowing that her sister, sceptical of Lennon's claim that he would be famous one day, hoped he would grow bored with music, often telling him, "The guitar's all very well, John, but you'll never make a living out of it".[11] Lennon was raised as an Anglican and attended Dovedale Primary School.[12] From September 1952 to 1957, after passing his Eleven-Plus exam, he attended Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool, where he was known as a "happy-go-lucky" pupil, drawing comical cartoons and mimicking his teachers.[13] At the end of his third year, his school report was damning: "Hopeless. Rather a clown in class. A shocking report. He is wasting other pupils' time", he was 14 when his uncle died in June 1955.[14] In September 1980 Lennon said this about his childhood, his family and his rebellious nature:
Part of me would like to be accepted by all facets of society and not be this loudmouthed lunatic musician. But I cannot be what I am not. Because of my attitude, all the other boys' parents ... instinctively recognised what I was, which was a troublemaker, meaning I did not conform and I would influence their kids, which I did. ... I did my best to disrupt every friend's home ... Partly, maybe, it was out of envy that I didn't have this so-called home. But I really did ... There were five women who were my family. Five strong, intelligent women. Five sisters. One happened to be my mother. ... She just couldn't deal with life. She had a husband who ran away to sea and the war was on and she couldn't cope with me, and when I was four and a half, I ended up living with her elder sister ... those women were fantastic ... That was my first feminist education ... that knowledge and the fact that I wasn't with my parents made me see that parents are not gods.[15]
YELennon

Lennon and Powell began dating in 1957 after going for a drink in the Ye Cracke pub on Rice Street, Liverpool.

Lennon regularly visited his cousin Stanley Parkes in Fleetwood. Seven years Lennon's senior, Parkes frequently took him on trips, and the pair enjoyed films together at the local cinema. During the school holidays, Parkes often visited Lennon with Leila, another cousin, and they would all go to Blackpool on the tram two or three times a week to watch shows. They would visit the Blackpool Tower Circus and see artists such as Dickie Valentine, Arthur Askey, Max Bygraves and Joe Loss. Parkes recalls that Lennon particularly liked George Formby. They regularly passed Formby's house on the bus journey from Preston to Fleetwood, often spotting the singer and his wife sitting in deck chairs in their front garden and exchanging waves with them. Parkes and Lennon were keen fans of the Fleetwood Flyers speedway club andFleetwood Town FC. After Parkes's family moved to Scotland, the three cousins often spent their school holidays together there. Parkes recalled, "John, cousin Leila and I were very close. From Edinburgh we would bundle into the car and head up to the family croft at Durness. That went on from about the time John was nine years old until he was about 16".[16]

Lennon failed all his GCE O-level examinations, and was only accepted into the Liverpool College of Art after his aunt and headmaster intervened. Once at the college, he wore Teddy Boy clothes and acquired a reputation for disrupting classes and ridiculing teachers. As a result, he was excluded from first the painting class and then the graphic arts course. He was threatened with expulsion for his behaviour, which included sitting on a nude model's lap during a life drawing class.[17] He failed an annual exam, despite help from fellow student and future wife Cynthia Powell, and dropped out of college before his final year.[18] On 15 July 1958, when Lennon was 17, his mother, out walking near the Smiths' house, was struck by a car and killed.[19]

The Beatles Edit

Beatles John Lennon 1964

John Lennon as a member of The Beatles (Photo took in 1964)

Allan Williams started to manage The Beatles in May 1960 after they had played in his Jacaranda club.A few months later he booked them into Bruno Koschmider's Indra club in Hamburg, Germany. Mona Best ran the Casbah Club in the basement of her home in Liverpool, where The Beatles often played in 1959, and Mona's son Pete Best joined The Beatles on drums as soon as their first Hamburg season was confirmed. Aunt Mimi was horrified when Lennon told her about Hamburg. She pleaded with him to continue his studies, but was ignored. The Beatles first played at the Indra club - sleeping in small, dirty rooms in the Bambi Kino - and after the closure of the Indra moved to the larger Kaiserkeller In October 1960, they left Koschmider's club and worked at the "Top Ten Club", which was run by Peter Eckhorn. Koschmider reported McCartney and Best for arson after the two attached a condom to a nail in the 'Bambi' and set fire to it. They were deported, as was George Harrison for working under-age. Days later Lennon's work permit was revoked and he went home by train, but Sutcliffe had tonsillitis and flew home. When Lennon got back to 'Mendips', his Aunt Mimi threw a cooked chicken (that Lennon had bought for her) and a hand-mirror at him for spending money on a leather coat for Cynthia Powell (John's girlfriend, and later, his wife) whom she referred to as, "a gangster's moll".

In December 1960, The Beatles reunited, and on 21 March 1961, they played their first concert at Liverpool's Cavern club. They went back to Hamburg in April 1961, and recorded 'My Bonnie' with Tony Sheridan. Sutcliffe stayed with Astrid Kirchherr when it was time to go home, so McCartney took over bass. When Lennon was nearly 21 in October 1961, his Aunt Mater (who lived in Edinburgh) gave him 100 pounds, which he spent on a holiday to Paris with McCartney. Brian Epstein first saw The Beatles in the Cavern Club on November 9, 1961, and later signed them to a management contract.

The Beatles were driven to London by their road manager, Neil Aspinall, on 31 December 1961 and auditioned the next day for Decca Records, who rejected them. In April 1962 they returned to Hamburg to play at the Star-Club, but they learned that Stuart Sutcliffe had died a few hours before they arrived. This was another shock for Lennon, after losing Uncle George and Julia.

They finally signed a record contract on 9 May 1962, with Parlophone Records, after having been turned down by many labels. "Love Me Do" was released on 5 October 1962, featuring Lennon on harmonica and McCartney singing solo on the chorus line.

All Lennon-McCartney songs on the first pressing of Please Please Me (recorded in one day on 11 February 1963) as well as the single "From Me to You", and its B-side, "Thank You Girl", are credited to "McCartney-Lennon", but this was later changed to "Lennon-McCartney". They usually needed an hour or two to finish a song, most of which were written in hotel rooms after a concert, at Wimpole Street, at Cavendish Avenue, or at Kenwood (John Lennon's house).

As recording technology improved, and they were doing more work in the studio than live, overdubbing was used so that Lennon might provide the harmony parts as well as the lead for his songs. The "Beatles" sound was a three-part harmony with Lennon or McCartney singing lead, and harmony provided by the others.

The group's decisions were democratic, with the rule that if any member objected to an idea, the group wouldn't pursue it. The Beatles decided to stop touring after their San Francisco concert in 1966, and never performed a scheduled concert again.

John Lennon 1968

Lennon in 1968 a few months before quiting, as you notice his the only one being pictured is because he started his solo work in 1968.

Lennon resented McCartney taking control of the band after Brian Epstein's death in 1967, and disliked some of the resulting projects such as Magical Mystery Tour and particularly Let It Be ("That film was set up by Paul, for Paul," as he said later to Rolling Stone). He was the first to break the band's all-for-one sensibility, and also the rule that no wives or girlfriends would attend recording sessions, as he brought Yoko into the studio.

Lennon was also the first member to quit the group, which he did in September 1969 (Starr had left during 1968, but was persuaded to return; Harrison stated he was "leaving the band" on January 10, 1969 during the rehearsal sessions for Let It Be, but returned after negotiations at two business meetings). Lennon agreed not to make an announcement while the band renegotiated their recording contract, and blasted McCartney months later (with the negotiations complete) for going public with his own departure in April 1970. Phil Spector's involvement in trying to revive the Let It Be material then drove a further wedge between Lennon (who supported Spector) and McCartney (who opposed him). With the public unaware of the details, McCartney appeared to be the one who dissolved the group, depriving Lennon of the formalities. Lennon told Rolling Stone, "I was a fool not to do what Paul did, which was use it to sell a record," and later wrote, "I started the band. I finished it." Though the split would only become legal some time later, Lennon's and McCartney's partnership had come to a bitter end. McCartney soon made a press announcement, declaring he had quit The Beatles and promoting his new solo record. McCartney later admitted Lennon had been the first to quit.

In 1970, Jann Wenner recorded an interview with Lennon that was played on BBC in 2005. The interview reveals his bitterness towards McCartney and the hostility he felt that the other members held towards Yoko Ono. Lennon said: "One of the main reasons The Beatles ended is because ... I pretty well know, we got fed up with being sidemen for Paul. After Brian Epstein died we collapsed. Paul took over and supposedly led us. But what is leading us when we went round in circles? Paul had the impression we should be thankful for what he did, for keeping The Beatles going. But he kept it going for his own sake."

Solo careerEdit

JohnLennon

John Lennon performing "Give Peace A Chance" in the bed-ins

Lennon had a varied recording career. Whilst still a Beatle, Lennon (along with Ono) recorded three albums of experimental music, Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins, Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions, and Wedding Album. His first 'solo' album of popular music was Live Peace in Toronto 1969, recorded prior to the breakup of The Beatles, at the Rock 'n' Roll Festival in Toronto with The Plastic Ono Band. He also recorded three solo singles: the anti-war anthem "Give Peace A Chance", the heroin withdrawal report "Cold Turkey", and "Instant Karma!". Following The Beatles' split in 1970 Lennon released the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album. The song "God" lists people and things Lennon no longer believed in - ending with "Beatles". The album also included "Working Class Hero" which was banned from the airwaves for its use of the word (censored).

The album Imagine followed in 1971, and its title song soon became an anthem for anti-religion and anti-war movements. The song's video was filmed during Lennon's "white period" (white clothes, white piano, white room, and the like). He wrote "How Do You Sleep?" as an attack against McCartney, with George Harrison on slide guitar, but later claimed that it was about himself.

Some Time in New York City (1972) was loud, raucous, and explicitly political, with songs about prison riots, racial and sexual relations, the British role in Northern Ireland, and his own problems in obtaining a United States Green Card. Lennon had been interested in left-wing politics since the late 1960s, and was said to have given donations to the Trotskyist Workers Revolutionary Party.

In 1972 Lennon released "Woman Is the Nigger of the World", which drew parallels between exploitation of women and discrimination against blacks. Radio stations refused to broadcast the song and it was banned nearly everywhere, though he managed to play it to television viewers during his second appearance on The Dick Cavett Show.

On 30 August 1972 Lennon and his backing band, Elephant's Memory, staged two benefit concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York. These were to be his last full-length concert appearances. Lennon and Ono also did a week-long guest/co-hosting the Mike Douglas Show.

Following Ono's second miscarriage, she and Lennon had an argument that resulted in their separation. He moved to California and embarked on a period he would later dub his "lost weekend" (despite the fact that it lasted approximately eighteen months). Lennon released Mind Games in 1973, which was credited to "the Plastic U.F.Ono Band". It was the first solo album produced by Lennon with no input from Yoko. He wrote "I'm the Greatest" for Ringo Starr's album Ringo, and recorded his own version of the song (which appears on the John Lennon Anthology). Lennon's behavior during this period was notoriously bad, with many nights spent in a drunken stupor. The songs from this period (appearing on Mind Games and Walls and Bridges) took an apologetic tone that seem to be directed at Ono. At Ono's suggestion he took May Pang along as his assistant and his lover during this period.

Johnnyc

John Lennon in 1974 wearing his famous New York City t-shirt

Lennon released Walls and Bridges (1974), which featured a duet with Elton John on the #1 hit "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night". The album was released under the name "the Plastic Ono Nuclear Band". Another hit from the album was "#9 Dream". Lennon also produced Nilsson's Pussy Cats album during 1974.

Lennon made a surprise guest appearance at an Elton John concert in Madison Square Garden where they performed "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds", "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night" and "I Saw Her Standing There" together. It was to be his last-ever concert appearance in front of a rock audience. Coincidentally, Yoko Ono happened to be present and the concert, and after a backstage meeting, the two got back together. Following the performance, Lennon traveled to Florida and signed the papers legally breaking up The Beatles. After the Christmas holidays he returned to live with Yoko Ono, and she soon became pregnant with their first child.

In 1975, Lennon released the Rock 'n' Roll album of cover versions. It had been conceived several years earlier, but was complicated by the unpredictable Phil Spector's involvement as producer and by several legal battles. The album garnered mostly negative or indifferent reviews, but included a well-received cover of "Stand by Me". David Bowie achieved his first U.S. number one hit (in 1975) with "Fame", co-written with Lennon (who contributed vocals and guitar) and Carlos Alomar.

Lennon made his last public musical appearance on ATV's 18 April 1975 special A Salute to Lew Grade, performing "Imagine" and "Slippin' and Slidin'" from his Rock 'n' Roll LP. Lennon's band was billed as "Etc." and the band members were costumed in two-faced masks. The "two-faced" stunt, and the line "don't want to be your fool no more" (from "Slippin' and Slidin") were seen as digs at Grade, with whom Lennon and McCartney had been in conflict over his previous control of The Beatles' publishing concerns. Dick James had sold Lennon's and McCartney's publishing rights to Grade in 1969. During "Imagine" Lennon interjected the line "and no immigration too" - a reference to his battle to remain in the United States.

On 9 October 1975 – Lennon's 35th birthday – his son Sean Ono Lennon was born, and Lennon retired from the music business to care for him.


Political activism Edit

War Is Over

The "War Is Over - If You Want It" poster made by John Lennon and wife, Yoko Ono.

As seen in the film, The U.S. Vs. John Lennon, John Lennon is trying to stop the Vietnam War in a peaceful way, using songs. Examples of these songs made by John Lennon against war are Revolution, Come Together, Imagine, Give Peace A Chance, Nobody Told Me, and Happy Xmas (War Is Over). As the war became more unpopular and unpopular, people began to realize that it really has no purpose, lots of peace activists where arrested ever since 1969, when Richard Nixon rose to power. All of John Lennon's phone calls where watched by the U.S. government. In a Sunday morning, John and Yoko recieved a frightening letter from the U.S. government.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Lennon,

Your previus actions against the U.S. government tells us that we need to get rid of you. You will be departed off the U.S., we will give you 60 days to leave. Failing to do so will result in exile.

Some Time In New York City Edit

This Section Has An Article: Some Time In New York City

John and Yoko also made some songs trying to free people, like John Sinlair, Angela, and Attica State. And Ono also had this great phrase, Woman Is The Nigger Of The World, it was what she though about women problems, "nigger", because she though of the word as someone who is deeply insulted (as black Americans and women have been for years), so she shared this to John and he (with help from Yoko Ono) made a song about it. Those protest songs where in the album, "Some Time In New York City" that was released in 1972 (most of the songs, except for John Sinclair and Attica State).

The album also consisted some songs about the massacre on Ireland (nicknamed Bloody Sunday) as the british took the land and massacred Irish people. Bloody Sunday was such a big event for America, Britain, and Ireland. He and the Irish band U2 made as song about it, the band U2 called it Sunday Bloody Sunday, and as well as Lennon's song about it featuring Yoko Ono singing the chorus, John's other song about the event was "The Luck Of The Irish" (ft. his wife, Yoko Ono). It was such a surprise that for the first time ever in music history, someone who doesn't own the song (Yoko Ono) would be lead vocals the whole song, these songs where only Yoko sang where We're All Water, Born In A Prison, and Sisters, O Sisters. Ono also sung with John in Angela. Other than showing protests against America, he also showed his love to the American city, by making a song named after it, New York City. The album was released in 1972 and was also a hit.

Starting Over: The Return Edit

The Lennons

John Lennon's second family, this is Lennon in 1978

Lennon's retirement came to an end in 1980, a year in which he wrote an impressive amount of material during a lengthy vacation in Bermuda and began to think about recording a new album. For this comeback, he and Ono produced Double Fantasy, a concept album focusing on their relationship. The name came from a species of freesia Lennon saw at the Bermuda Botanical Gardens; he liked the name and thought it was a perfect description of his marriage to Yoko.

The Lennons once again began a series of interviews and video footage to promote the album. Although Lennon would say in interviews for the album that he had not touched a guitar for five years, several of the tunes, such as "I'm Losing You" and "Watching the Wheels", had been worked on at home in The Dakota in various stages with different lyrics from 1977 onward. "(Just Like) Starting Over" began climbing the singles charts, and Lennon started thinking about a brand new world tour. Lennon also commenced work on Milk and Honey, which he would leave unfinished. It was some time before Ono could bring herself to complete it.

Towards the end of his life, Lennon expressed his displeasure with the scant credit he was given as an influence on George Harrison in the latter's autobiography, I Me Mine. According to Ono, he was also unhappy that McCartney's Beatles songs, such as "Yesterday", "Hey Jude" and "Let It Be" were more covered than his own contributions.

In a 1980 Playboy interview Lennon claimed that some of his Beatles songs were subconsciously sabotaged, and that the group put more work into and paid more attention to McCartney's songs, whereas with his, they tended to experiment. In the same interview, Lennon was ambivalent about his time with The Beatles and the group's legacy and was not interested in talking about them any more than he would about old high school buddies. He was prompted that there was considerable speculation about whether The Beatles were now "dreaded enemies or the best of friends." He replied that they were neither, and that he hadn't seen any of The Beatles for "I don't know how much time." He also said that the last time he had seen McCartney they had watched the episode of Saturday Night Live where Lorne Michaels made his $3200 cash offer to get The Beatles to reunite on the show. The two had seriously considered going to the studio to appear on the show for a joke, but were too tired.

Personal Life Edit

Relationships Edit

Cynthia Lennon Edit

John n' Cyn

John and Cynthia Lennon making love in 1964.

Cynthia Powell met Lennon at the Liverpool Art College in 1957. After hearing Lennon comment favorably about another girl who looked like Brigitte Bardot, Powell changed the color of her hair to blond. Their relationship started after a college party before the summer holidays when Lennon asked Cynthia to go a pub with him and some friends. At this point Cynthia was already engaged to another man, a fact which she brought up when Lennon asked her to dance. Lennon replied, "I didn't ask you to fucking marry me, did I?" and stormed off. Although Lennon ignored her for the rest of the party, he talked to her as she was ready to leave, and then grabbed her hand and took her to a room Stuart Sutcliffe was renting, where they had sex. If Sutcliffe's room was not available, they often had sex in alleyways or shop doorways, but Cynthia didn't enjoy those "snatched encounters". Lennon's jealousy could manifest itself in cruel and aggressive behavior towards Cynthia, as when Lennon slapped her across the face (knocking her head against the wall) the day after he saw her dancing with Stuart Sutcliffe. Cynthia broke up with Lennon for three months, but resumed their relationship after Lennon's profuse apology. Cynthia visited Lennon in Hamburg for two weeks in 1960, but in 1961 Lennon left her at home and went to Paris with McCartney for a holiday.

In mid-1962, Cynthia discovered she was pregnant. Lennon proposed marriage, but when he told Mimi she screamed and raged at Lennon to stop him from going through with it. Lennon and Cynthia were married on 23 August at the Mount Pleasant Register office in Liverpool. Mimi did not attend.

On April 8, 1963, John Charles Julian Lennon was born in Sefton General Hospital. John did not see Julian until a week after he was born because of commitments with The Beatles. The birth of John's son and his marriage to Cynthia was kept secret from the public, due to Brian Epstein's insistence that it would harm John's image with The Beatles' female fans.

According to Cynthia, in a 1995 interview, there were problems throughout their marriage because of the pressures of The Beatles' fame and rigorous touring, and because of Lennon's increasing use of drugs. Their marriage all but came to an end when Cynthia came back from a holiday in Greece with friends to find that John and Yoko had been in bed together. John did not deny the fact but when Cynthia left for a while he phoned her and said "I can't understand why you went off". Cynthia found out about the definite end of their marriage when John refused to go on a family holiday with them and was later shown in a newspaper making his affair with Yoko public. To make matters worse Lennon sent a mutual friend to Italy to inform her that he was going to take their child and force her to leave their home. He also arranged for divorce, stating that she was the one who had committed adultery, not him. In the ensuing court case Lennon refused to give his wife anymore than £75,000, telling her "What have you done to deserve it? Christ, it's like winning the bloody pools". In the end, she got £100,000 plus £2,400 a year, custody of Julian and the house.

Yoko Ono Edit

Lennon Ono

John Lennon and Yoko Ono promoted world peace together.

On 9 November 1966, after The Beatles' final tour and just after he had finished filming How I Won the War, Lennon visited an art exhibit of Yoko Ono's at the Indica gallery in Mason's Yard, London. Lennon began his relationship with Ono in May 1968 after returning from India. Cynthia filed for divorce later that year, on the grounds of John's adultery with Ono which was evidenced by the latter's pregnancy and miscarriage of their son. Lennon and Ono became inseparable, even during Beatles sessions.

The press was unkind to Ono — writing unflattering articles about her, with frequently racist overtones — and one called her "ugly". This angered Lennon, who said that there was no John and Yoko, but they were one person; "JohnandYoko". Yoko's constant presence in the studio led to tension within The Beatles during the White Album recordings in 1968.

At the end of 1968, Lennon and Ono performed as Dirty Mac on the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. During Lennon's last two years in The Beatles, he spent much of his time with Ono partaking in public protests against the Vietnam War. Lennon sent back his MBE medal, which Queen Elizabeth bestowed during the height of Beatlemania, "in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing (a reference to the Nigerian civil war of 1967-70), its support of America in Vietnam, and 'Cold Turkey' slipping down the charts." (Return of the medal did not formally negate his appointment to the Order.)

On 14 March, as Lennon and Ono were being driven to Mimi's house, in Poole, Dorset, they asked if it was possible to get "married at sea". On 20 March 1969, they were married in Gibraltar, and spent their honeymoon in Amsterdam in a "Bed-In" for peace. Behind their bed were posters that displayed the words "Hair Peace. Bed Peace." They held another "Bed-In", in Montreal, at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, where they recorded "Give Peace a Chance", which became an anthem for the peace movement. They were mainly patronised as a couple of eccentrics by the media, yet they did a great deal for the peace movement, as well as for feminism and racial harmony. Lennon and Ono often combined advocacy with performance art, as in their "Bagism" introduced during a Vienna press conference. Shortly after, Lennon changed his name to John Ono Lennon. Lennon wrote "The Ballad of John and Yoko" about his marriage and the subsequent press coverage it generated.

The failed Get Back/Let It Be recording/filming sessions did nothing to improve relations within the band. After both Lennon and Ono were injured in the summer of 1969 in a car accident in Scotland, Lennon arranged for Ono to be constantly with him in the studio (including having a full-sized bed rolled in) as he worked on The Beatles' last album, Abbey Road. While the group managed to hang together to produce one last acclaimed musical work, soon thereafter business issues related to Apple Corps came between them.

May Pang and "The Lost Weekend" Edit

May Pang 1975

Lennon and Pang promoting Lennon's album, Rock n' Roll.

In 1973, Yoko approached May Pang (their personal assistant) with a proposal. Ono, who thought May Pang would be an "ideal companion" for Lennon, asked her to "be with John, help him, and see that he gets whatever he wants." Yoko then kicked Lennon out of the house. Lennon and Pang moved to Los Angeles - a period which has been dubbed the "lost weekend", though it lasted until the beginning of 1975. During their time together, Pang encouraged Lennon to spend time with his son, Julian Lennon, and she became friends with Cynthia Lennon. After arriving in Hollywood, Lennon reunited with producer Phil Spector and began work on recording and some of their efforts were eventually released as part of his 'farewell' LP Rock 'n' Roll. However their work together was ended by interpersonal conflict -- some sources blame this on Spector while others cite Lennon's increasingly out-of-control behavior in the studio, which led to Lennon being banned from A&M Studios in Hollywood after the studio was repeatedly vandalized.

During this time Lennon often caroused with an assortment of his drinking/drug buddies including singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson, Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, Alice Cooper, Micky Dolenz and others, who dubbed themselves the 'Hollywood Vampires'. One of the most oft-repeated incidents was that in which Lennon and Nilsson were ejected from The Troubadour club after repeatedly heckling comedians The Smothers Brothers during their act. During the evening, a drunken Lennon was also reported to have gone into the women's toilet and emerged with a sanitary napkin on his head; when challenged by a waitress, he yelled "Don't you know who I am?" -- to which the waitress famously replied, "Yeah, you're an asshole with a Kotex on your head!".

Though Lennon's public drunkenness had been the subject of gossip during 1974, Pang said that he was usually sober in his private life and recorded a large body of work. One notable session, captured on the bootleg recording A Toot and a Snore in '74, had Lennon and his friends jamming with Paul McCartney. Others included on the session were Harry Nilsson, Stevie Wonder, Jesse Ed Davis, and Bobby Keys.

Sons Edit

2 Lennons

John and 5 year-old Julian Lennon in 1968

Lennon was distant to his son, Julian, who felt closer to McCartney than to him. The younger Lennon later said, "I've never really wanted to know the truth about how dad was with me. There was some very negative stuff talked about me ... like when he said I'd come out of a whiskey bottle on a Saturday night. Stuff like that. You think, where's the love in that? Paul and I used to hang about quite a bit ... more than dad and I did. We had a great friendship going and there seems to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and my dad." When Lennon moved to New York in 1971, Julian did not see him until 1973. After encouragement from May Pang, it was finally arranged for Julian to visit John and her in Los Angeles. Lennon was said to be very nervous beforehand but the visit went well. After this point, Julian started to see his father more regularly, and played drums on "Ya Ya" from Lennon's 1974 album, Walls and Bridges. Lennon also bought Julian a Gibson Les Paul guitar for his eleventh birthday in 1974 and encouraged his growing interest in music.

Lennon was quoted as saying: "Sean was a planned child, and therein lies the difference. I don't love Julian any less as a child. He's still my son, whether he came from a bottle of whiskey or because they didn't have pills in those days. He's here, he belongs to me, and he always will."

According to Cynthia, after the break-up with John, McCartney visited Cynthia and jokingly suggested marriage, reportedly saying, "How's about you and me, Cyn?"

In an interview, Lennon said he was trying to re-establish a connection with the then 17-year-old Julian, and confidently predicted that "Julian and I will have a relationship in the future."

More Lennons

John and Sean Lennon, 1975.

On 9 October 1975 — John Lennon's 35th birthday — Yoko Ono gave birth to a son, Sean Ono Lennon, after having suffered three miscarriages of babies fathered by John. Regretful of the limited relationship he had with first son, Julian, Lennon decided to retire from music so he could dedicate himself to family life: he thus became a house husband. Deeply aware, after his experience of Primal therapy, of the crucial importance of the parent-child bond, he devoted his energies to nurturing young Sean in every possible way. He also made a point of learning how to bake a loaf of bread, an accomplishment which he proudly showed off to visitors. In 1976, Lennon's U.S. immigration status was finally resolved favorably, after a years-long battle with the Nixon administration that included an FBI investigation — a full-scale effort involving surveillance, wiretaps, and agents following Lennon around as he traveled. Lennon insisted that the investigation was politically motivated, a claim that was later proven true. With the departure of Nixon from the White House, the administration of his successor, Gerald Ford, showed little interest in continuing the battle.

When Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as President on 20 January 1977, Lennon and Ono were invited to attend the Inaugural Ball, signaling the end of hostilities between the U.S. government and Lennon. After that appearance, Lennon was rarely seen in public for the next 3½ years, until his 1980 comeback.

Both Julian and Sean Lennon went on to have recording careers years after their father's death.


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