John Winston Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, to Alfred and Julia Lennon, who divorced before John was three years old. The night of his birth was fraught with explosions by Nazi airplanes; one exploding just outside the hospital he is born in. Alfred took his son to New Zealand when the boy was six, and John decided he wanted to live at sea for the rest of his life. Julia brought the boy home immediately, where he was raised by his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George.
John's life ambition changed drastically when Elvis Presley burst onto the scene. Mimi said, "From then on, I never got a minute's piece. It was Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley. In the end I said, 'Elvis Presley's all very well, John, but I don't want him for breakfast, dinner, and tea.'" Mimi bought John a guitar and shortly thereafter he formed his first band, The Quarrymen. Eventually he met Paul McCartney, who amazed John with his ability to tune a guitar.
John started to attend art school, but soon quit. There he met his first wife Cynthia and Stuart Sutcliff. Although Sutcliff had very little musical ability he bought a bass guitar and joined The Quarrymen.
Throughout his life in the Beatles, John was known for his talent in writing songs which clearly show his emotions. However, his feelings were best shown in a 1966 interview when he predicted the end of Christianity and stated that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus." After 22 radio stations banned Beatles records and dozens of public incinerations of Beatle records and memorabilia, John publicly apologized, with the band's manager Brian Epstein adding, "(He) was quoted out of context."
There was no question that John was the head of the band, that is, until 1967. By then John had become unbelievably lazy; the inspirations for his songs were coming from TV commercials ("Good Morning, Good Morning") and posters from his bedroom ("Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!"). It was then that Paul unofficially assumed the leadership of the group and, coupled with the death of Brian Epstein, led to endless bickering and eventually the band's breakup.
In 1968, John left wife Cynthia and son Julian for Yoko Ono, an artist whom he had developed a deep love for. The couple married and held two bed-ins for peace. The other Beatles' hostility toward Yoko widened an already dangerous rift and is also credited in breaking up the band. Soon after the wedding, he legally changed his middle name to "Ono."
After the Beatles, John released several solo albums, including the Grammy-nominated Double Fantasy, recorded with Yoko. On December 8, 1980, after a night of working on new recordings, John was shot to death just outside his apartment by Mark David Chapman. His death marked the end of an era when love and peace were revered and greed and hate were denounced. Every year on the anniversary of his death fans gather outside the apartment and leave flowers, poems, and pictures.