Winston Lennon was born in Liverpool on October
9, 1940, the only child of Fred and Julia Lennon.
His parents split when he was a toddler and he
was raised by his aunt, Mary Smith.
But he remained close to Julia, who encouraged
him to learn the banjo, later switching to guitar.
Tragedy struck when John was 17, when Julia
was struck and killed by a car.
His first band was a skiffle group called The
Quarrymen, named after his school, Quarry Bank
High. A 15-year-old Paul
McCartney joined in 1957, followed by George
Harrison a year later.
After leaving school, John went to art college
in Liverpool, where he met fellow student Stuart
Sutcliffe joined the group on bass, and with new
Best and a new name, The
Beatles, they secured a residency in Hamburg.
first started at
home for The Beatles
The group honed their skills playing wild, all-night
concerts in the city's notorious red light district.
Sutcliffe left in 1961 to concentrate on painting
- but died shortly afterwards of a brain haemorrhage,
an event which deeply affected Lennon.
Back in Liverpool, The Beatles swiftly gained
a following and local businessman Brian
Epstein became their manager.
After being famously turned down by Decca, the
group finally secured a recording contract with
EMI, with Ringo
Starr replacing Pete Best on drums.
First single Love Me Do reached a modest number
17, but follow-up Please Please Me topped the
UK chart. Beatlemania was born.
Beatles' first appearance at JFK airport
in New York
In 1963, John and his new wife Cynthia
had a son Julian
while the group went from strength to strength
with a string of Number One hits, conquering
the US the following year.
By the mid-60s, The Beatles were the world's
biggest band, and Lennon & McCartney's songwriting
skills were developing at breathtaking speed.
With producer George
Martin they expanded the parameters of pop
music, achieving new levels of sophistication
on the albums Rubber Soul and Revolver.
They gave up touring for good after Lennon said
the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, and
the band received death threats.
The Beatles' career peaked in 1967 with the
release of the psychedelic classic Sgt Pepper's
Lonely Hearts Club Band. But the same year saw
Brian Epstein die of a drugs overdose.
Lennon's love life was also in turmoil and he
finally left Cynthia for avant-garde artist Yoko
"bed-in" for peace
They married in 1969, shortly before embarking
on their famous series of "bed-ins" aimed at
spreading a message of world peace.
Relations within the Beatles were strained -
despite the success of the White Album - and
1970 saw them split.
By this time, Lennon's solo career was well
under way after the release of his Unfinished
Music records with Yoko, and the Plastic Ono
Band's Cold Turkey - which described the pain
of heroin withdrawal.
and Yoko became immersed in political causes,
and Lennon performed Instant Karma on Top of The
Pops with cropped hair as an anti-war protest.
couple became involved in politics
1971 was his most productive year as he moved
to New York and released the acclaimed solo
albums Plastic Ono Band and Imagine.
Plastic Ono Band featured Working Class Hero
and Mother, which saw him scream out for his
late parent - a world away from his Beatles
Imagine's title track became synonymous with
him after his death, while it also contained
a bitter attack on Paul McCartney (How Do You
Sleep?) and Jealous Guy, which was overlooked
until Bryan Ferry's 1980s cover version.
Lennon's 1973 album, Mind Games, explored the
problems he was having with Yoko, and the couple
split for a time, with him going to Los Angeles
on a drugs and alcohol binge. They were reunited
after a concert appearance with Elton
John in November 1974.
The couple had a son, Sean,
and John took a five-year break to raise him.
In 1980 he, returned with the album Double Fantasy,
which went to number one in countries around the
Lennon at a Halloween parade in New
York in 1980
He appeared to be set for a period of unprecedented
creativity - but his life was cut short outside
his home at the Dakota building, near Central
Lennon was survived by Yoko, Sean, and Julian,
his son from his marriage to Cynthia.
His assassin, had an application for parole
turned down in October 2000.
Authorized The Assassination Of John Lennon?
by Mark R. Elsis
Family History And Early Years Of John Winston
John Lennon Biography