“They may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” These famous words have come to define a man who turned the world upside down in the early 70’s with his radical vision of an idealistic society. This man, of course, was John Lennon.
Born to Julia and Alfred Lennon on Oct. 9, 1940 in Liverpool England, John Winston Lennon was named after his grandfather, John “Jack” Lennon, and then-British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He received his first guitar at the age of 15 and shortly after started the Quarrymen, the band which would later evolve into The Beatles.
Lennon first met Paul McCartney-considered the co-founder of The Beatles-at one of the Quarrymen’s first gigs at a local church function, and by 1962, the band had added guitarist George Harrison and drummer Ringo Starr. After achieving mainstream success in Britain, The Beatles took the world by storm, with their single “Please Please Me,” holding the number one spot on the billboard chart for 30 weeks straight. Lennon himself was once quoted saying that “[The Beatles] are more popular than Jesus,” which, although extremely controversial, may not have been too far off at the time.
As a political activist, Lennon was not afraid to make his opinion known. In the 1969 “Bed-In for Peace,” his actions drew national attention, as newlyweds Lennon and Yoko Ono remained bed-ridden for two weeks to symbolize a non-violent method of protesting U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
Following the dissolution of The Beatles in 1970, Lennon used his music to advocate for peace, releasing his first solo album, “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band,” only months after leaving the band. In the 10 years before his death in 1980 he would release six more albums, with a seventh album, “Milk and Honey” released posthumously in 1984.
Lennon’s life was cut short outside of his New York apartment on Dec. 8, 1980 when he was shot several times by a fan for whom he had signed an autograph earlier that day. His legacy, however, is still alive today, reminding us that we must be the change we want to see in the world.
Joshua Shapiro is a second-year student majoring in English and education. He can be reached at JS762110@wcupa.edu.