Tuesday, October 14, 2014

John Lennon, The #87 Artist of the Seventies*

John Lennon, while with the Beatles, wrote some of the best music ever recorded.  His feud with Paul McCartney in the later years of the group turned the best of friends into bickering rivals.  Long before the official breakup of the Beatles was announced in 1970, the members had begun working on their own projects.

Lennon released the albums Unfinished Music No. 1:  Two VirginsUnfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions, and Wedding Album with wife Yoko Ono in the 60's.  A non-album single, "Give Peace A Chance", gave Lennon one of his most memorable solo releases.
In 1970, Lennon released the acclaimed John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.  While hit songs were absent from the album, it did contain this Top Track*--"Mother".

Tariq Ali interviewed Lennon that year, and Ali's extreme political views inspired John to write the non-album single "Power To The People".  The song reached #11 in the United States, #6 in the U.K., #7 in Germany and #4 in Canada.

Lennon then released the #1 album Imagine, containing the classic title song.  "Imagine" topped charts in Australia and Canada, and reached #3 in the U.S.  "Imagine" is one of The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era*.

Lennon and his wife moved to New York City later in the year, and released the Christmas song "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)".  It reached #2 in the U.K. and #3 in Norway.

In 1972, Lennon released the album Some Time In New York City.  John gave two benefit concerts for the Willowbrook State School mental facility, his last full-length shows.  It was a tumultuous year for John, as his political and peace activism had caught the ire of U.S. President Richard Nixon.  Nixon and his aides began a four-year attempt to deport Lennon.

The following year, Lennon released the album Mind Games, which also marked an 18-month separation from Ono.  The title song peaked at an underrated #18.  John also helped out former Beatle Ringo Starr on the song "I'm The Greatest".

In 1974, Lennon released the album Walls and Bridges.  The single "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night" featured Elton John on backing vocals and piano.  It was the only non-Beatles #1 song Lennon would score in his lifetime.

Lennon's follow-up single was the dreamy song "#9 Dream", which coincidentally peaked at #9.

Lennon helped Starr out again for Ringo's Goodnight Vienna album.  John also made a surprise guest appearance at Elton John's Thanksgiving concert at Madison Square Garden, with the pair performing "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "I Saw Her Standing There".

Lennon then co-wrote "Fame", which became a #1 song for David Bowie.  He also played guitar and sang backing vocals on the song.  Lennon played guitar and sang backing vocals on Elton John's version of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" in 1975.  Lennon and Yoko Ono reunited shortly afterwards.

Lennon released the album Rock 'n' Roll in 1975, which was an album of remakes.  John's cover of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" reached #20.  It would be his last single for five years.

Lennon made what would be his final performance in the ATV special, A Salute to Lew Grade.  Lennon then took the next five years off from the music business to raise his infant son Sean.

Lennon re-emerged from his hiatus with the album Double Fantasy in 1980, but he was murdered three weeks after its release.  The shocking tragedy led to worldwide mourning for him, and he has since been honored with numerous tributes and memorials.

Lennon was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

In 1985, Ono dedicated an area to be known as Strawberry Fields in Central Park to her late husband.  In 2002, the airport in Liverpool, England was renamed the Liverpool John Lennon Airport.  In 2010, on what would have been Lennon's 70th birthday, former wife Cynthia and son Julian Lennon unveiled the John Lennon Peace Monument in Chavesse Park in Liverpool.  In 2013, the International Astronomical Union named one of the craters on Mercury after Lennon.

Lennon had 10 hits in the Seventies and sold 5.5 million albums. 

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