John Lennon: The musical genius

John Lennon: The musical genius

John Lennon: The musical genius

“Part of me is a monk and part performing flea” — John Lennon. These words perhaps best express the essential John Lennon, who died a little over 31 years ago. Performer par excellence of the ’60s and the elusive recluse of the ’70s, Lennon’s name is inextricably linked to The Beatles legend which was born 50 years ago.

 The mopheads who changed the course of music and expressed their thoughts, feelings and aspirations of a generation were four different men whose musical fusion never made for a personality blend. And, of the four, Lennon was probably the most individualistic.

Born on December 9, 1940 in Liverpool, London, Lennon never had an easy childhood. His father Alfred deserted the family when Lennon was three, and mother Julia died when he was 14. Even prior to her death, Lennon preferred to stay with his aunt, Mary Smith. But he never spoke ill of his mother. Instead, he readily acknowledged her contribution to his musical career. It was she who first taught him musical chords and introduced him to the major influence of his early life, Elvis Presley.
The Beatles had their first official recording in 1962 with Love Me do. Lennon had met McCartney in 1958 and after experimenting with other musicians for a couple of years, George Harrison and then Ringo Starr joined them and the band was born.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote most of the group’s hit songs. From I want To Hold Your Hand (their first hit in the US), he went on to write songs that ran the gamut of the decade’s main moods and expressions. Twist and Shout, A Hard Day’s Night, Norwegian Wood, Strawberry Fields Forever — the list can go on. 
In 1970, The Beatles broke up, bringing to an end one of the sixties’ most enduring legends. The break-up led to many interpretations, but George Harrison voiced the most common one: ego clash. By the late sixties, all four of them were living like minor emperors, isolated, surrounded by courtiers, with no life of their own. Lennon’s image as a crusader was firmly established in this post-Beatles phase with Imagine and Give Peace a Chance.
John Lennon made news constantly. In 1966, he said, “The Beatles are more popular than Jesus Christ.” This statement earned the group the wrath, not of God, but of their fans. Lennon later returned the MBE awarded to all four of them in 1965 in protest against the British support of the US in Vietnam.
In 1975, John Lennon went into seclusion — he became unavailable to the Press. In his last interview in September 1980, in Newsweek, he said that the last five years had been the first time since he was 22 when he had no deadlines to keep.
With the death of Lennon at the young age of 40 died the hope cherished by every Beatles fan of the Beatles reuniting. But, Lennon himself had said, “The Beatles gave everything and more. But going back would be like going back to school… I was never one for reunion... It’s all over.”

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