John Winston Ono Lennon (born John Winston Lennon, 9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter and peace activist who gained worldwide fame as the founder, co-lead vocalist, and rhythm guitarist of the Beatles. His songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney remains the most successful in history. In 1969, he started the Plastic Ono Band with his second wife, Yoko Ono. After the Beatles disbanded in 1970, Lennon continued as a solo artist.
Born in Liverpool, Lennon became involved in the skiffle craze as a teenager. In 1957, he formed his first band, the Quarrymen, which evolved into the Beatles in 1960. He was initially the group’s de facto leader, a role gradually ceded to McCartney. Starting in 1967, Lennon’s lyrics began to espouse a pacifist message, and some of his songs were soon adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement and the larger counterculture. From 1968 to 1972, he produced more than a dozen records with Ono, including a trilogy of avant-garde albums, his first solo LP John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, and the international top 10 singles “Give Peace a Chance”, “Instant Karma!”, “Imagine” and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”.
Lennon was known for the rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. He was controversial through his political and peace activism. After moving to New York City in 1971, his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a three-year attempt by the Nixon administration to deport him. In 1975, Lennon disengaged from the music business to raise his infant son Sean, and in 1980, returned with the Ono collaboration Double Fantasy. He was shot and killed in the archway of his Manhattan apartment building three weeks after the album’s release.