“I am tired of being Ringo when I know I was John!” an aggrieved Steve Wozniak (played by Seth Rogen) declares to Steve Jobs (played by Michael Fassbender) in a climactic scene in Steve Jobs (2015), the recent biopic about the Apple cofounder directed by Danny Boyle.
Such was the impact of John Lennon, the visionary leader and cofounder of the Beatles, the most popular group in the history of rock music, that nearly two decades after his death, two computer geniuses squabbled over which of them was his technological equivalent. The name of the company founded by Jobs and Wozniak in 1975 was even said to have been inspired by Apple Records, the record label founded by the Beatles in 1968.
Thirty-five years after his death, Lennon remains an influential figure. Outspoken and brash, Lennon was nicknamed “the clever Beatle.” Beatles songs written primarily by Lennon include “Help!” (1965), “All You Need Is Love” (1967), and “A Day in the Life” (1967). As a solo artist, Lennon became known as one of rock’s leading social critics through such songs of idealism as “Give Peace a Chance” (1969) and “Imagine” (1971).
John Winston Lennon was born on Oct. 9, 1940, in Liverpool, England. While in high school, Lennon and five other musicians formed a band called the Quarrymen, named after the high school they attended. The Beatles formed in 1960, comprising Lennon on rhythm guitar, Paul McCartney on bass, George Harrison on lead guitar, and Ringo Starr on drums. Lennon and McCartney wrote and sang most of the group’s songs. They became one of the most successful songwriting teams in music history. The Lennon-McCartney team published some 180 songs, recorded not only by the Beatles, but by countless other artists around the world. The Beatles broke up in 1970, but by that time, their records had outsold those of any other popular music or rock music performers in history. After the breakup of the group, all the Beatles performed as soloists or led their own groups.
Lennon was married to Cynthia Powell from 1962 to 1968. Their son, Julian Lennon, became a musician. John Lennon married the Japanese-born artist and singer Yoko Ono in 1969. Their son, Sean Lennon, also became a musician. Ono was John Lennon’s creative partner for most of the rest of his life.
In 1980, Lennon and Ono released Double Fantasy, his first album in five years. On December 8 of that year, Lennon was shot to death outside his apartment building, the Dakota, in New York City. A 25-year-old man named Mark David Chapman, who was obsessed with Lennon, was convicted of the shooting. On Oct. 9, 1985, on what would have been Lennon’s 45th birthday, Strawberry Fields, a 2.5-acre (1.0-hectare) landscaped section in New York City’s Central Park, was dedicated to the memory of Lennon. It is named after the Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever” written by Lennon.
Lennon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 as a member of the Beatles and in 1994 as an individual performer.