Biography of John Lennon

John Lennon

John Lennon was a twentieth century songwriter, musician and poet famed for being in the pop group “The Beatles”

When and Where was he Born?

9th October 1940, Oxford Street Maternity Hospital, Liverpool, England just after a Second World War bombing raid.

Family Background:

John Lennon was the son of Fred Lennon, a merchant seaman and Julia Stanley. Fred was at sea at the time of his son’s birth.

Education:

Dovedale Primary School, Liverpool. Quarry Bank High School, Liverpool. Liverpool Art College (Despite failing all his “O” Levels, the Headmaster of the High School, Mr. Pobjoy made a special recommendation).

Timeline of John Lennon:

1940: Lennon’s mother was unable to look after him and he was eventually passed into the care of her sister Mary, known as “Aunt Mimi” and her husband George Smith. His childhood home was 251 Menlove Avenue, Allerton.

1945: John Lennon was expelled from his primary school for misbehaviour. Unknown to his teachers John suffered from Dyslexia and without his glasses he was considered legally blind.

1946: His father Fred came back to Liverpool and saw John for the first time. He took him on a trip to Blackpool and even had plans to emigrate with him to New Zealand but John’s mother prevented this and he continued to stay with “Aunt Mimi”.

1955: A new craze, skiffle music, was sweeping across Great Britain and John became obsessed with it. He was also particularly taken by Elvis Presley’s song “Heartbreak Hotel.

1956: His mother asks him to ask his uncle for a guitar as she knew his aunt would disapprove. Mimi eventually declares that he would never “make a living out of it” after his hours of practicing and makes him stand outside in the front porch to play. He forms his first group “The Quarrymen” with friends Peter Shotton, Ivan Vaughan and Nigel Whalley from the Liverpool Institute.

1957: “The Quarrymen” perform at Woolton Parish Church in July where John meets Paul McCartney for the first time. He is impressed by Paul’s ability to tune a guitar and asks if he wants to join the group as lead guitarist. He meets Cynthia Powell, a fellow student at the Liverpool Art College and falls in love with her.

1958: Lennon writes his first song “Hello Little Girl”. George Harrison joins “The Quarrymen”.

1960: The Quarrymen” are renamed first as “Johnny and the Moondogs” then “The Beatals”, before becoming “The Silver Beetles” and finally “The Beatles”. The group travel to Hamburg where they play in four clubs on the Repeerbahn in the Red Light District. Stuart Sutcliffe the “Fifth Beatle” quits the band to concentrate on his art studies.

1961: Debut concert of “The Beatles” at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. John Lennon asks Brian Epstein to become their manager and they record for Parlophone but only after the Parlophone engineer George Martin said they had to fire the drummer Pete Best for his preferred choice Ringo Starr.

1962: “Hello Little Girl” is performed by the Beatles as part of their audition for Decca Records. He marries Cynthia Powell on 23rd August The wedding is kept secret by manager Brian Epstein to avoid disappointing “The Beatles” fans. Epstein acted as best man.

1963: Birth of his first son Julian to Cynthia at Sefton General Hospital. Brian Epstein urges them to keep the birth secret, like their wedding, to avoid ruining John’s rock-star image with “The Beatles” fans. “The Beatles” end their run at the Cavern Club after more than 300 performances.

1964: “The Beatles” embark on their first tour of the United states. (February 9th and 16th) The group play on the Ed Sullivan television show twice which is almost unheard of. (March) Filming of “A Hard Day’s Night” begins. “Can’t Buy Me Love” reaches Number One in the U.S. pop charts.

1965: Lennon pens the song “Help!” which later becomes a feature film and he admits that it is a cry for help because he cannot cope with all the success the group are having. He also writes “Nowhere Man”. A friend who is a dentist spikes John, Cynthia and George Harrison’s coffee with LSD and they inadvertently have their first trip. In August the group meet Elvis Presley in Bel Air at his home. A journalist describes John as “the fat Beatle” and this stung him so much that afterwards he ate very little.

1966: John meets Yoko Ono for the first time at her art exhibition at the Indica Gallery in London.

1967: Writes “I Am the Walrus”, allegedly under the influence of LSD. The film “Magical Mystery Tour” is shown on BBC television. He invites his father Fred to come and live at his home in Kenwood.

1968: Lennon is divorced from Cynthia.

1969: On January 30th “The Beatles” perform for the last time on the roof of their record company headquarters in London. The filming of “Let it Be” begins. Release of “Give Peace a Chance” with Yoko. He marries Yoko Ono on 20th March in Gibraltar.

1970: Paul admits to the press that he is quitting “The Beatles” due to personal, business and musical differences, despite having John’s assurances that John wouldn’t announce a split. John and Yoko check into an exclusive London clinic to try and cure their drug addiction.

1971: John Lennon and Yoko move into the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. The Album “Imagine” with is anthemic title single is released.

1973: John and Yoko separate for the first time since they were married and he travels to Los Angeles without her to live with Yoko’s personal female assistant. He describes these eighteen months as a “lost weekend”. His solo album “Mind Games” is released.

1975: John and Yoko are reunited and “The Beatles” formerly break up. Birth of son Sean in a New York hospital on John’s 35th birthday, 9th October. He decides to give up public life and become a “house husband”.

1980: In August John Lennon decides to begin recording music again and his first new single “Starting Over” is released and the album “Double First” is released to an international market.

When and Where did he Die?

8th December 1980, New York City, U.S.A, shot five times by a so-called “fan” Mark David Chapman outside his flat at the Dakota Building. He is dead on arrival at Roosevelt Hospital.

Age at Death:

40.

Major Compositions:

1969: “Give Peace a Chance”.
1969: “Cold Turkey”.
1970: “Working Class Hero”.
1971: “Imagine”.
1973: “Mind Games”.

Marriage:

1. 23rd August 1962 to Cynthia Powell. (divorced 1968). The wedding is kept secret by manager Brian Epstein to avoid disappointing “The Beatles” fans. Epstein acted as best man.
2. 20th March 1969 to Yoko Ono, whom he often affectionately referred to as “it”, in Gibraltar.

Site of Grave:

Cremated. Ashes given to family.

Places of Interest:

LIVERPOOL:

251 Menlove Avenue, Allerton. (Childhood home now owned by the National Trust).
Statue at John Lennon Airport.
The Beatle’s Experience, Albert Dock.

LONDON:

Manuscripts of some of his songs, British Library.