In My Life > John Lennon
John Winston Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, to Alfred and Julia Lennon, who divorced before John was three years old. Alfred supported John and Julia until he went AWOL. After reappearing in 1944, Alfred offered to reconsile with Julia, who was pregnant with another man's child and refused. Julia's sister, John's Aunt Mimi, pressured Julia to let her take John in, and Julia finally relented while still visiting him nearly every day. At age six, John was picked up by Alfred with the intent to immigrate to New Zealand. In the midst of a heated argument, Julia asked John to choose between her and Alfred. John twice chose Alfred, but after Julia turned to leave him he cried and decided to stay with her instead.
John's life ambition changed drastically when Elvis Presley burst onto the scene. Julia had taught John to play the banjo and played Elvis's records for him.Mimi said, "From then on, I never got a minute's piece. It was Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley. In the end I said, 'Elvis Presley's all very well, John, but I don't want him for breakfast, dinner, and tea.'" Julia bought John a guitar and had it delivered to her house. Shortly thereafter he formed his first band, The Quarrymen. Eventually he met Paul McCartney, who amazed John with his ability to tune a guitar, and bonded with him over both having lost their mothers, Julia having been killed in a car crash in 1958.
John started to attend art school, but soon quit. There he met his first wife Cynthia and Stuart Sutcliff. Although Sutcliff had very little musical ability he bought a bass guitar and joined The Quarrymen.
Throughout his life in the Beatles, John was known for his talent in writing songs which clearly show his emotions. However, his feelings were best shown in a 1966 interview when he predicted the end of Christianity and stated that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus." After 22 radio stations banned Beatles records and dozens of public incinerations of Beatle records and memorabilia, John publicly apologized, with the band's manager Brian Epstein adding, "(He) was quoted out of context."
There was no question that John was the head of the band, that is, until 1967. By then John had become unbelievably lazy; the inspirations for his songs were coming from TV commercials ("Good Morning, Good Morning") and posters from his bedroom ("Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!"). It was then, coupled with the death of Brian Epstein, that Paul unofficially assumed the leadership of the group and endless bickering ensued, culminating with the band's breakup.
In 1968, John left wife Cynthia and son Julian for Yoko Ono, an artist for whom he had developed a deep love. The couple married and held two bed-ins for peace. The other Beatles' hostility toward Yoko widened an already dangerous rift and is also credited in breaking up the band. Soon after the wedding, he legally changed his middle name to "Ono."
After the Beatles, John released several solo albums, including the Grammy-nominated Double Fantasy, recorded with Yoko. On December 8, 1980, after a night of working on new recordings, John was shot to death just outside his apartment by Mark David Chapman. His death marked the end of an era when love and peace were revered and greed and hate were denounced. Every year on the anniversary of his death fans gather outside the apartment and leave flowers, poems, and pictures.
John wrote a scathing letter to Paul and Linda just before the breakup up the band - click here to read it.
Read John's take on several Beatles songs in an excerpt from his famous Playboy Interview with David Sheff in 1980.