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John Lennon   |   Janis Joplin
John Lennon
October 9, 1940 - December 8, 1980

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
-John Lennon


The Beatles were unmistakably the most popular and most influential of all rock groups and John Lennon was the leader. He was perhaps the most impassioned and talented of all the members. His accomplishments were not only in music, but in art and literature.
John's self-portrait
I guess being a Beatle must  infer that you have no brains, which also must have meant that John stood out from the rest because he was the "writing Beatle."
This was one of the books he wrote, with his typical play on words for the title. The newer editions now come with an introduction by Yoko Ono. I guess it's her "write" to do it.

     Born and raised in Liverpool, England, his father was a ship steward who was frequently away from home. His mother who dated frequently during his absence, left her son John in the care of his Aunt Mimi. His Aunt  provided a stable environment for John, one that he did not have with either parent.

I know it's not real clear, but here is John Lennon's birth certificate. Submitted by Ted at Celebrity Collectables.
Aunt Mimi (d. 1991) and John
     As a child he was aggressive and terrorized his classmates at the Mosspits Infants’ School and was eventually expelled from kindergarten. That same year, his father Fred, took the young boy to Blackpool for a vacation. His plans were to move with the boy to New Zealand, but when Lennon’s mother Julia showed up unexpectantly, those plans were quickly changed. Lennon would not see his father again until he became an adult.       
     Lennon, at the age of nine began to read about Vincent Van Gogh and other eccentric artists. He felt he could relate to these people, as he described himself as one-half “monk” and one-half performing flea.
     By age 15, Elvis Presley and Rock and Roll had replaced John’s former idols. He had made his mind up that he was going to be a rocker either that or a thug. Although discouraged by his Aunt, his mother Julia taught him how to play a used guitar, refocusing John's ambition in a more positive direction. She became a bigger influence in his life until she was tragically killed by a drunk driver in 1958.

     While attending the Liverpool Art College he met and married Cynthia Powell a young student who he had gotten pregnant. Both the marriage and the birth of his son, Julian (named after his mother) had to be kept discrete. After all what kind of image would that be, a family man by day, and rocker by night?
     John’s first band, The Moondogs, consisted of Paul McCartney, Stu Sutcliffe and George Harrison. As the band evolved the members and the name changed. They played local clubs in Liverpool and then ventured to Hamburg, Germany. Upon returning to Liverpool a manager of a family owned record store, Brian Epstein, discovered and became The Beatles’ manager. His first course of business was to get them a recording test with George Martin who at the time was the head of A&R at Parlophone Records, an EMI affliate.

     Their first recording was a Lennon-McCartney tune entitled “Love Me Do” which reached #17 on the British hit parade. Their second, “Please, Please Me” reached #1.
     On November 9, 1966, to the dismay of many Beatle fans, John met Yoko at the London’s Indica Gallery. She approached John telling him that she was in need of a patron to help her financially with her artistic endeavors. Soon after their first meeting she gave him a copy of her book “Grapefruit” and then began to stalk him. She sent him hundreds of notes begging him for money and even resorted to threatening suicide if he did not finance her art. Finally John agreed to a “business meeting” with Yoko while Cynthia was away on vacation. She ended up spending the night and continued the affair mostly in the back seat of his Rolls Royce. The affair remained a secret until May, 1968 while Cynthia was again away on vacation in Greece.  Yoko used this opportunity to move in with John. As you can imagine the abandonment of Cynthia for some eccentric Japanese artist was not well received by the British Press.
     By the 1970's the Lennons/Onos moved to New York, where they became active in the anti-war movement. This plus all of John’s controversial activities and drug use caused the Immigration and Naturalization Service to initiate his deportation in 1972. This made him extremely paranoid, thinking that President Nixon was out to get him personally. He dropped out of the counter culture and stopped his political activism. The couple moved from the trendy Greenwich Village to the more respectable Dakota.
The Dakota entrance where John was shot.                             Photo submitted by Robert Obey
1 West 72nd Street, N.Y., N.Y.

Photos submitted by Frank Fontana
     The Summer of 1973, John began a highly publicized affair with Yoko’s secretary May Pang. Together they moved out to California to begin what Lennon referred to as the “Lost Weekend.” He spent his time drinking and raising hell. Yoko, then after seeing that perhaps she was on the verge of losing Lennon and his money forever, begged him to come home. Upon his return she appointed herself as his business representative and assumed complete control of his money. To seal the deal she became pregnant with Sean who was born on John’s thirty fifth birthday.

     It was no coincidence that Sean was born on John’s birthday. Previously Yoko had tried several times, to complete this feat only to end up miscarrying. She believed in the superstition that if a son is born on his father’s birthday, he will inherit the father’s soul upon his death. So on October 9, 1975, Sean was surgically removed by caesarean section, prematurely.

     At this point John went into semi-retirement to become a house husband. Yoko’s beliefs were that it was enough that she carried the child for almost nine months, now it was time for someone else to take over.

     During this time John had time to obsess with his health and weight. He considered sugar to be the world’s poison and banish it from the house. Also he managed to control his habit of ingesting food indiscriminately. Once a husky man, prone towards obesity, he became nearly an anorexic. John at 5 feet 10 inches, weighed only 140 pounds. Unfortunately John could not kick his chain smoking, nor the 20 cups a day espresso drinking habits.
Not to mention all the drugs he continued to do.
    
     While John was out of the public eye his relationship with Yoko was pretty rocky and there were rumors of divorce.  She had become infatuated with Sam Green an art and antique dealer. During 1980, they began an affair. Sam is mentioned in John’s Will as the person who will assume custody of Sean in the event of both Yoko and John’s death.

     Finally John went back to recording five years after Sean’s birth. His first album was “Double Fantasy.” Coincidently, the same album he autographed for Mark Chapman the day of his murder.
    December 8th, began as any other day for John. That afternoon he was at Studio One working on his newest album, “Walking On Thin Ice.” He had gotten a hair cut that day. Doug Mac Dougall, their bodyguard had called to make an appointment the next day to discuss security arrangements, but Yoko blew him off, thinking that extra security measures were not needed. He frequently criticized the Lennons for the way they routinely mixed with fans, and adhered to a predictable schedule. But no one listened.
     At 5:00pm John and Yoko left with the RKO crew and accepted a ride with them since their car had not yet arrived. A bespectacled chubby young man, held out one of Lennon’s  record albums and asked him to autograph it.  John accommodated the young man and quickly signed it. Amateur photographer, Paul Goresh (another fan who had sneaked into John’s bedroom the previous year) snapped the picture of the event.  
John autographing Mark Chapman's record . Mark looks on, grinning. Perhaps John's last living photograph.
     At 6:00pm, while at the Record Plant, John called home to ask assistant Frederic Seaman, to bring him some tapes from a previous recording session. As Frederic was leaving he bumped into Goresh who introduced him to David Chapman. Goresh told Frederic that Chapman had come all the way from Hawaii to get John’s autograph.

     Lennon and Yoko left the studio at 10:30pm to get something to eat and then go home. As John was getting out of a limousine, he passed by the gunman. Then he heard someone call out his name. Just as he was turning to see who was calling him, five shots rang out. Two hit him in the back.  He struggled up six stairs and inside the alcove to a guard area he collapsed. Security pulled him into the office until the police arrived.

     The police from the 20th Precinct without hesitation put John in the back seat and rushed him to Roosevelt Hospital. It is said that while enroute he was mumbling incoherently.  Soon after arrival, he died from multiple gunshots to his left shoulder and chest. His left lung and left subclavian artery were pierced and he subsequently died of a an internal hemorrhage.
John Lennon's Death Certificate Submitted by Celebrity Collectables, thanks Ted!

    Oddly, John had considered himself a violent man that would meet a violent end.

     John was taken in a body bag from the morgue to the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel at Madison and 81st Street. From there he went to Ferncliff Mortuary in Hartsdale, for cremation. Lennon was extremely fearful of the practice of cremation, and despite this, Yoko chose to burn the Beatle. I’m sure she was aware of his feelings, because he had once wrote against the practice in a song.

     According to the documentary, “The Real John Lennon,” none of his family in England were consulted about what to do with his remains. In fact, in his Will, only his son Sean is mentioned, nothing is said about Julian.
     Former assistant, Frederic Seaman, against Yoko’s wishes,  wrote an excellent book about John Lennon entitled, “The Last Days Of John Lennon.” In it he said, that MacDougal who was present at the cremation, said that John’s face was serene and calm up until it was time to go into the oven. Then suddenly it turned into a “pained, macabre grin,” "they" say due to rigor mortis.

     There are conflicting stories as to what happened to his ashes. Some say Yoko scattered him on Strawberry Fields, others say she still has them. Most recently she auctioned off a print of the bloodied Lennon glasses, I believe for $50,000.
 
Strawberry Fields located in Central Park directly across the street from the Dakota. It is believed that John's ashes were tossed here.
Photos submitted by Robert Obey
Submitted by Frank Fontana
Submitted by Frank Fontana   According to photographer Frank these two people are named, John and Paul (the person on the right bears an uncanny resemblance to you know who). Could he be in hiding? First Elvis sightings, now Lennon sightings. Apparently they frequent Strawberry Fields and sing in John's memory.
These are the glasses that belonged to John and the ones he wore on that fateful night, note his blood. Well Yoko not being too humble or sad to turn a buck, ebayed this print for $50,000. I guess everybody needs their own Graceland.

John Lennon's Last Will and Testament
Submitted by Celebrity Collectables, thanks Ted!