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Remembering The Beatles' John Lennon

John Lennon was known worldwide as a musician and peace activist. John Lennon was known worldwide as a musician and peace activist.

I was a child visiting London with my parents 30 years ago when the news of the John Lennon assassination first broke. It has made every December 8th since then a bit sadder.

I remember in Hyde Park and on the streets of the city I heard the audible groans and anger expressed by British people. Their general theme was that America is a violent, gun-loving culture and that John should have moved back home to the UK. "He would have still been alive."

People were heartbroken that John’s death made impossible any chance of a Beatles reunion. At the time, all four of the Fab Four were alive. Since then, George Harrison survived an assassination attempt but died of cancer, and John Lennon was gunned down.  Ringo Starr has all but retired from music.

It has been left for Paul McCartney to carry the torch for The Beatles, and he has done it well. McCartney’s live shows are known for their extended length, the vast catalogue of Beatles and solo work that Macca plays, and the zest and creativity McCartney uses to rev up songs that are more than 40 years old.

Rock & Roll Legend John LennonRock & Roll Legend John LennonA lot of people argue about whether John Lennon or Paul McCartney was the “soul” of The Beatles, or who was a better solo artist after the break-up of the world’s first rock band.

What a lot of people fail to realize is that both Lennon and McCartney were into social causes beginning in the mid-1960’s. What social causes? Peace, love, understanding, animal rights, vegetarianism, meditation and environmentalism, among others. George Harrison also brought a spiritual-social conscience to The Beatles, and used his solo career to promote spiritual growth and to raise money for impoverished countries such as Bangladesh.

McCartney has risked getting beaten up or worse by seal pup killers when he joined Whale Wars’ Captain Paul Watson to protest Newfoundland’s annual seal pup brutalization.

Lennon is perhaps more well known for activism because he did it publicly, in his songs and he was avowedly political. He held rallies and gave speeches. He and Yoko staged “bed-ins” in Amsterdam and Montreal…inviting photographers to take pictures of them in bed so the couple could get media attention for their peace activism.

Lennon’s politics came to the attention of US President Richard Nixon and the FBI. The highest levels of the US government were covertly trying to get rid of John Lennon because he used his immense popularity to promote anti-war sentiment in America.

The US tried for many years to deport Lennon, and there are suspicions that his killing was more than just the lone gunman cover story that has been so famously used to cover the killings of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others.

Just before he died, John Lennon and his wife Yoko released Lennon’s solo career comeback album, Double Fantasy. It was by far his strongest work since The Beatles, and it had a depth and feel that many music critics said was superior to Paul McCartney’s solo work.

Who killed John Lennon, and why?

With his voice, songwriting chops, lyrical abilities and musicianship back on track after a five year layoff from music, John Lennon’s Double Fantasy album quickly went to the top of the charts and the world was glad to welcome back one of their heroes from the 1960’s.

But all that was cut short by bullets on that fateful December 8th, 1980 in New York City. John Lennon would be an old guy if he had lived, but like McCartney, he would probably still be kicking ass on stage and in the studio today. Rest in peace, John. At least we have your music and books to keep your memory alive.

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Last modified on Monday, 29 October 2012 08:42

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