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3 November 2023, 11:43
John Lennon was one of the most iconic singers of the 20th century, from his time with the Beatles to his solo career.
40 years on from his death, here are the biggest facts about Lennon that every fan should know:
John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940. He was 40 years old at the time of his death.
Full name John Winston Lennon, he was born at Liverpool Maternity Hospital to parents Julia (née Stanley) (1914–1958) and Alfred Lennon (1912–1976).
His dad Alfred was a merchant seaman of Irish descent, who was away at the time of John's birth. His parents named him John Winston Lennon after his paternal grandfather, John 'Jack' Lennon, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
John's father was often away from home but sent regular cheques until he went absent without leave in February 1944. When he eventually came home, he offered to look after the family, but Julia was by then pregnant with another man's child, and rejected him.
After Julia's sister Mimi complained to Social Services, Julia gave her custody of John. His father planned to emigrate with John to New Zealand, but Julia and her partner stopped them and forced the five-year-old to choose between them. In the end, he went home with his mother.
John had no further contact with his father for nearly 20 years.
Aged 15 in July 1957, Paul McCartney met John Lennon and his band, the Quarrymen, at the St Peter's Church Hall fête in Woolton.
The Quarrymen performed mostly rock and roll and skiffle music. McCartney was soon asked to join as a rhythm guitarist.
George Harrison joined in 1958 as lead guitarist, followed by Lennon's school friend Stuart Sutcliffe on bass, in 1960.
After trying several names, they chose The Beatles in August 1960, and signed drummer Pete Best before a residency in Hamburg, Germany.
Within a few years, and with the arrival of drummer Ringo Starr, the Fab Four quickly became the biggest stars on the planet, selling over 800 million records worldwide.
Cynthia Powell was an artist, who was married to John Lennon from 1962 to 1968.
They got engaged after Cynthia was found to be pregnant with son Julian.
In 1968, Lennon left Cynthia for Japanese artist Yoko Ono, and divorced in 1968 on the grounds of adultery.
He was married to Ono from 1969 to his death.
However, in 1973, Lennon and Ono split for a period, leading to Lennon having an 18-month relationship with May Pang, which Lennon later called his "lost weekend".
John Lennon had two sons.
Julian Lennon was born on April 8, 1963 at Sefton General Hospital in Liverpool. He was the son of John and Cynthia.
He then had a son called Sean Lennon with Yoko Ono, who was born in 1975.
Both Julian and Sean have become musicians themselves, and are on good terms.
IMAGINE. (Ultimate Mix, 2020) - John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band (with the Flux Fiddlers) HD
Outside of his Beatles songs, Lennon's most famous solo records include:
- Working Class Hero
- Just Like Starting Over
On the evening of December 8, 1980, John Lennon was shot dead in the archway of the Dakota, his home in New York City.
Chapman explained that he was angered by Lennon's life and public statements, in particular, his phrase about the Beatles being "more popular than Jesus" and the lyrics of his songs 'God' and 'Imagine'.
Chapman also said he was inspired by Holden Caulfield from JD Salinger's 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye.
The American planned the killing over several months, and waited for Lennon at the Dakota that morning. At one point, he even met Lennon, who signed his copy of the album Double Fantasy.
Later that night, Lennon and wife Yoko Ono returned, and as they walked towards the entrance, Chapman fired five shots, four of which hit Lennon in the back.
Chapman stayed at the scene, reading The Catcher in the Rye, until he was arrested by the police. Lennon was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 11.15pm.