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John Lennon, in full John Winston Ono Lennon, (born October 9, 1940, Liverpool, England—died December 8, 1980, New York, New York, U.S.), leader or coleader of the British rock group the Beatles, author and graphic artist, solo recording artist, and collaborator with Yoko Ono on recordings and other art projects.

John Lennon
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John Lennon
British musician
Alternate titles: John Winston Ono Lennon

BY Robert Christgau | Last Updated: Oct 5, 2021 | View Edit History
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John Lennon, in full John Winston Ono Lennon, (born October 9, 1940, Liverpool, England—died December 8, 1980, New York, New York, U.S.), leader or coleader of the British rock group the Beatles, author and graphic artist, solo recording artist, and collaborator with Yoko Ono on recordings and other art projects.




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John Lennon
John Lennon
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Born: October 9, 1940 Liverpool England
Died: December 8, 1980 (aged 40) New York City New York
Awards And Honors: Grammy Award Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (1994) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (1988) Grammy Award (1981) Grammy Award (1970) Grammy Award (1966)
Notable Works: “Double Fantasy” “Imagine” “Plastic Ono Band” “Some Time in New York City”
Notable Family Members: spouse Cynthia Lennon spouse Yoko Ono
Lennon’s fun-loving working-class parents married briefly and late and declined to raise their quick, sensitive, gifted son. Separated traumatically from each of them by age five, he was raised strictly (in Woolton, a Liverpool suburb) by his maternal aunt, Mimi Smith, whose husband died during Lennon’s adolescence, as did his biological mother, who had taught him to play the banjo. Such circumstances were not uncommon in the wake of World War II, but in Lennon they generated anger that he sublimated with brilliance and difficulty and an intense need for human connection. At age 21 he married the supportive, traditional Cynthia Powell, whom he divorced in 1968. At age 28 he married the independent, unconventional Yoko Ono. And much earlier, at age 16, he founded a skiffle band that evolved into the Beatles, the most important musical group of the second half of the 20th century.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono
John Lennon and Yoko Ono
John Lennon and Yoko Ono holding their marriage certificate after their wedding in Gibraltar, March 20, 1969.
Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy
The Beatles were essentially a joint venture between practical pop adept Paul McCartney and alienated rock-and-roll rebel Lennon, but, as a disruptive cultural force, they always bore Lennon’s stamp. Musically, just two of countless examples are the forthright candour his vocal added to Smokey Robinson’s vulnerable “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” in 1964 and the “I used to be cruel to my woman” bridge he added to McCartney’s positive-thinking “Getting Better” in 1967. Culturally too, Lennon assumed the role of the candid provocateur. All four Beatles were witty, all four irreverent. But only Lennon would have observed “We’re more popular than Jesus now” or boiled the story of youth culture down to “America had teenagers and everywhere else just had people.”

Lennon’s genius encompassed writing and the visual arts, the only field in which he received formal training. His natural gifts in both were considerable, but in the end he proved a minor humorist and a casual if indelible cartoonist. In music, he had less inborn facility, though his paternal grandfather worked for years as a blackface minstrel. But music was where he put his substance. Lennon was one of the great rock rhythm guitarists, his signature a nervous rest-one-two-and-rest that complicated his foursquare attack, and his strong, nasal singing overshadowed McCartney’s more physically capable rocking and crooning. Declarative where the rockabilly singers he admired were frantic, almost a blues shouter in spirit if not in timbre, Lennon often undercut the masculinity of this approach with a canny, playful high voice deployed to humorous and even campy effect.

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