His mother and his Aunt Mimi raised him, while his father worked on a ship, leaving Julia and his son alone for months at a time. Between 1942 and 1944, John lived with his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George, but continued to see his mother on a regular basis. In July of 1946, John's father returned home and intended to take John to New Zealand to live with him. Julia was against the idea and announced that she wanted John to stay in England. John was given the option of whom he wanted to stay with. He chose to stay in England with his mother, and John continued to live with his Aunt Mimi, without seeing his father for the next 20 years.
In July 1955, Julia started to visit John more frequently, and John's relationship with his mother grew very strong. During this period, Julia began to teach John how to play the banjo, and soon after he began to learn the guitar. On July 15, 1958, John's mother was brutally struck, and instantly killed, by a car driven by an intoxicated off-duty policeman. The incident profoundly affected John emotionally. Throughout the rest of his life, John was haunted by his mother's tragic and unexpected death that lead him to compose many songs such as "Julia" and "Mother". Alcohol and music then became a major part of John's life, as he attempted to comfort himself from his mother's death. He continued to live with his Aunt Mimi, who bought John his first guitar for only £17.
Over the years, John started many skiffle groups. But in late 1960, he started the foundation for the group that would change the course of music forever. This group, The Beatles, consisted of himself, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Pete Best. Their shows were held at various clubs throughout Berkshire, Hamburg, Liverpool, and included the Cavern Club, where their soon-to-be manager Brian Epstein later discovered them.
With the help of Brian, the Beatles auditioned at Decca Records on New Years Day of 1962. After being turned down by Decca Records, Epstein helped the Beatles with another audition at EMI Records with George Martin. The audition was a success and George Martin signed The Beatles to Parlophone, a division of EMI.
However, George Martin decided that Pete Best was not right for studio recording, and decided to have him replaced by Ringo Starr.
During this time, Cynthia Powell and John decide to marry after it was discovered that she was pregnant. On August 23, 1962, John and Cynthia were married. On April 8, 1963, Cynthia gives birth to Julian Lennon; however, John was not able to see Cynthia or his son until two days later, because he was in London with his band.
For the last time, after literally hundreds of performances, on August 3, 1963, the Beatles headlined the bill at the Cavern Club. About a month later, the Beatles were invited to attend a Rolling Stones rehearsal, where Lennon and McCartney completed the composition of the Stones first hit, "I Wanna be your Man." In November of 1963, Brian Epstein booked the Beatles onto the Ed Sullivan show for February of 1964. The show was a complete success, with an estimated 72 million viewers, setting new records for entertainment broadcasting.
Back in the studio, the Beatles continued to record hit after hit and become the most popular group in history. Unfortunately, Lennon remarks on their success during an interview with Maureen Cleave in March of 1966 claiming the Beatles were, "bigger than Jesus." This statement nearly destroyed the Beatles and soon after they to decide to quit touring. Lennon later apologized for his remarks, but even the "London Catholic Herald" said his remarks, although arrogant, were "...still probably true".
Despite not touring, the Beatles continued to experiment in the studio and began a new revolution in music. The release of songs such as "Strawberry Fields Forever" and the album "Sgt. Pepper" shocked unexpected fans with a dramatic change in the Beatles "sound".
John soon began to experiment rather heavily with LSD and became deeply immersed in the art world. In April of 1967, John Lennon attends a "psychedelic" event where he watches many artists perform. The many performers included Pink Floyd and Yoko Ono, whom he met on November 9, 1966 at an art exhibit preview. In May of 1968, John and Yoko became a couple after John invited her to his home. They made love after spending the night recording experimental music, which was later released as the "Two Virgins" album. Later that year on August 22, 1968, Cynthia filed for divorce on grounds of John's adultery. On March 20, 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono are married in Gibraltar, near Spain. Between March 25 and March 31, John and Yoko spent their honeymoon at the Amsterdam Hilton staging their famous "Bed-In" for peace. John Lennon stated, "We're staying in bed for a week, to register our protest against all the suffering and violence in the world."
On March 31, 1969, Yoko's film, "Rape (Film No. 6)", was premiered. John and Yoko attended a press conference for the occasion to appear inside a large white bag, and Bagism is born. (To learn more about Bagism, Please visit www.Bagism.com) In April 1969, John and Yoko began yet another campaign, "Acorns For Peace". In this event, they mailed acorns to world leaders asking them to plant the acorns for peace. In June of 1960, John and Yoko performed another "Bed-In" in Montreal, where they recorded John's "Give Peace a Chance" with the help of a few friends and visitors.
In April of 1970, Paul McCartney decided to leave the Beatles, and only more tension was built up between John and Paul. On December 8, 1970, Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone Magazine interviewed John. In this interview, John criticizes just about everything from himself to God. On May 28, 1971, Paul and Linda McCartney release their new, "Ram" album. This album contained obvious offensive messages to the Lennon's, which resulted in John's composition of the song, "How Do You Sleep?", a song aimed at insulting McCartney. "How do You Sleep?" was released on John's second solo album, "Imagine", on September 9, 1971. The title track of this album has become one of the most popular songs of all time, and more importantly, remains as powerful today as it was decades ago.
In late February of 1972, John and Paul met in New York and agreed to stop the public feuding. A few months later, the FBI believed that John was only staying in the country to upset the Republican National Convention. Soon after, deportation hearings are held against the Lennon's. John only upset the government more when he spoke at a peace rally in New York calling for an end to the Vietnam War.
On April 28, 1972, Apple releases David Peel & the Lower East Side's, "The Pope Smokes Dope", which was produced by John and Yoko, and contains "The Ballad of New York City- John Lennon/Yoko Ono". (for more information on David Peel, Please visit www.DavidPeel.org)
Over a year later, in late April of 1973, John and Yoko move into the Dakota apartment building on the upper west side of New York. Years later, on October 7, 1975, a court appeals the deportation order against John. Only two days later, on John's birthday, Yoko gives birth to Sean Taro Ono Lennon. A few months later, John, helping Ringo, made his last appearance in a professional recording studio, for almost four years. Fortunately, on July 27, 1976, John was granted permanent residence in America and his immigration worries were over.
On September 25, 1980, Yoko met with Sean's bodyguard, Doug McDougall, to discuss an increase in security around the Dakota, due to John and Yoko's frequent leaves to the studio. However, they decided to put off solving the problem and scheduled another meeting for December 9, 1980. On the day of John's 40th birthday and Sean's 5th, Yoko has an airplane write "Happy Birthday John + Sean - Love Yoko", nine times in the sky. By this time, they have been working on a new album, "Double Fantasy", for several months, and it was almost ready to be released.
Meanwhile, in Honolulu, a mentally ill man checked out "John Lennon: One Day at a Time" from a public library, and became convinced that Lennon was a hypocrite.
He became frustrated and decided that the solution to his mental instability would be to kill John Lennon. On October 29, this man flew to New York from Honolulu carrying a pistol, but no ammunition. He immediately visited the Dakota and returned there for five days straight. On November 11, he called his wife in Honolulu and admitted that he had been planning to murder John Lennon. She convinced her husband to fly home. But he returned to New York again December 5, after a short stay with his grandmother in Chicago. Lennon announced that he had spent the last five years as a happy, secure husband and father. A few days later, on December 8, 1980, around 5PM, John autographed a copy of "Double Fantasy" for this mentally ill man from Honolulu. The sick man, standing with an open mouth, appeared amazed that he had met John. John asked him, "Is that all you want?" All the sick man could reply was with, "Thanks, John". Hours later, this mentally ill man was still standing outside the Dakota. As John and Yoko returned home, the man called out, "Mr. Lennon." As John turned toward the voice, he was shot five times in the shoulders and back. He struggled to the security guard's office, and collapsed crying, "I'm shot, I'm shot." Police arrived immediately and put Lennon in the car to bring him to the nearest hospital, but when asked if he knew who he was, he could not reply. Ten minutes after the shooting occurred, Lennon arrived at Roosevelt Hospital.
Unfortunately, the damage was extreme. John Winston Ono Lennon, having bled severely, was announced dead on arrival. Back at the Dakota, the mentally ill man from Honolulu had been arrested without a struggle. He had in his hand, a copy of "The Catcher in the Rye", a novel by J.D. Salinger. On December 10, 1980, John Lennon was cremated. A worldwide 10-minute silent vigil took place on December 14, 1980 at 2PM Eastern Time in John's memory.