His songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney remains the most successful in history. After the Beatles disbanded in , Lennon continued a career as a solo artist and as Ono's collaborator. Born in Liverpool , Lennon became involved in the skiffle craze as a teenager. In , he formed his first band, the Quarrymen , which evolved into the Beatles in He was initially the group's de facto leader, a role gradually ceded to McCartney. Lennon was characterised for the rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. In the mids, he had two books published: In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works , both collections of nonsense writings and line drawings. Starting with 's " All You Need Is Love ", his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement and the larger counterculture. In , he held the two week-long anti-war demonstration Bed-Ins for Peace.
Such circumstances were not uncommon in the wake of World War II , but in Lennon they generated anger that he sublimated with brilliance and difficulty and an intense need for human connection. At age 21 he married the supportive, traditional Cynthia Powell, whom he divorced in At age 28 he married the independent, unconventional Yoko Ono. And much earlier, at age 16, he founded a skiffle band that evolved into the Beatles, the most important musical group of the second half of the 20th century. Culturally too, Lennon assumed the role of the candid provocateur. All four Beatles were witty, all four irreverent.
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John Lennon has been dead as long as he was alive — it was 40 years today that he was shot on the steps of the Dakota apartments in New York. And since his death, Lennon has achieved, as is typical for musicians who die young or in their prime, legendary status. As well as earning the tag "legend", which has perhaps lost some of its power because of its sheer ubiquity, Lennon has been elevated to something equally nebulous and folklorish; a myth. Legends are for heroes. Myths are for figures even greater than that; gods.
Forty years ago, on 8 December , the former Beatle John Lennon was shot dead as he returned to his home at the Dakota apartment building in New York. Here he recounts how Lennon's death has haunted him ever since. I now live just four blocks from the Dakota - I go past the building virtually every day and whenever I go to my gym on West 63rd Street it is part of a complex which also houses a hotel - the very hotel Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, stayed in on his first night in New York. Lennon also continues to define my career. I have been a broadcast journalist for more than 40 years. In that time I have filed more than 3, stories for BBC outlets and have interviewed most of the big names in the movie industry.