John Lennon, Musician/Antiwar Activist | Teen Ink

John Lennon, Musician/Antiwar Activist MAG

January 29, 2009
By Zaid Qureshi BRONZE, Hemet, California
Zaid Qureshi BRONZE, Hemet, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

The evening of December 8, 1980, John Lennon, beloved singer, songwriter, and political activist, was shot and killed in front of his apartment building in New York City. He was only 40. Lennon is a hero to me. Even though he was not alive during my generation, his influence lives on through his music and messages of peace.

John Lennon was born in England on October 9, 1940, during World War II. After his father left, his mother gave him to his aunt and uncle. In school, he was miserable. He was extremely intelligent but hated the conformity and his teachers. Later on, Lennon attended the Liverpool College of Art but dropped out for the same reasons. In art school, he met Cynthia Powell, who became his wife, and they had a son, Julian. It was during this time that Lennon devoted his life to music after hearing American rock ’n’ roll greats Elvis and Buddy Holly. He started a band with Paul McCartney and George Harrison called the Quarrymen, which later became The Beatles.

During the early years, the band played small gigs in bars and clubs. It was on a trip to Hamburg, Germany, that they started gaining fame. They replaced their original drummer with Richard Starkey, a.k.a. Ringo Starr, and released their first album, “Please, Please Me,” in 1963. Beatlemania had begun.

The band began touring England and America, and was constantly pursued by fans. Over the next seven years, The Beatles would release 13 albums. Lennon and McCartney’s songwriting partnership became legendary. During the later years, Lennon increasingly used psychedelic drugs and was in and out of rehab. He also met the love of his life, Yoko Ono, and Cynthia divorced him. By this time the band was falling apart and Lennon and McCartney were disagreeing about everything.

By 1970, The Beatles were finished and Lennon moved to New York. In 1971, he released the solo album “Imagine” to much acclaim. The next year brought the extremely political album “Sometime in New York City,” which addresses racial issues and denounces chauvinism. Lennon by now was steeped in left-wing politics, going as far as giving donations to Trotskyist parties.

Lennon transformed into an antiwar activist during the Vietnam War with the song “Give Peace a Chance.” His inspiration came from Bob Dylan, another singer and war protester. In 1972, Lennon toured the U.S. to influence youth to vote against the war, against Richard Nixon. The Nixon Administration found out and tried to deport him.

Other examples of his antiwar efforts were the “bed-ins for peace,” where Lennon and Ono would stay in bed shrouded in white promoting peace with signs reading “Bed Peace” and “Hair Peace.” Lennon and Ono also wore white bags over their bodies, satirizing prejudice and stereotypes. They funded billboards all over America denouncing war.

In 1975, Lennon’s second son, Sean, was born.

On December 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman stood in the shadows near
the entrance to Lennon’s apartment building. Lennon and Ono were returning from a recording session, and as they approached the gate, Chapman shot him four times in the chest. The police arrested Chapman, who did not resist, and rushed Lennon to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. This news shocked the world. Thousands of fans camped outside his building and paid tribute by playing his songs.

John Lennon is my hero for many reasons. He took action against war and racism, and denounced oppression and violence. He fought for many things I believe in. I am also a huge fan of his music. His lyrics are meaningful and heartfelt, not shallow and repetitive like much of today’s music. He wrote music for the world, not for money. John Lennon has inspired me to speak up for what I believe in. He is also an artistic inspiration. If he were still alive, I think the world would be a better place.

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This article has 38 comments.

CaitlinB GOLD said...
on Nov. 5 2012 at 4:37 pm
CaitlinB GOLD, Brooklyn, New York
14 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Kipitama said...
on Mar. 30 2012 at 9:04 am
Kipitama, Council Bluffs, Iowa
0 articles 0 photos 185 comments

Favorite Quote:
"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." (Bartoletti, Campbell)

I think that's sooo awesome that he's your hero!


OrenK PLATINUM said...
on Feb. 21 2012 at 7:07 pm
OrenK PLATINUM, Flushing, New York
21 articles 0 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
"My teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said happy. She said I didn't understand the assignment. I said she didn't understand life."- John Lennon

Way to label man. Just because someone says that war is bad and John Lennon is a great person (which are both true) it doesn't make them a hippie, and hippies aren't bad anyways

GeorgeG said...
on Feb. 13 2012 at 9:42 pm
I like the article, im not a big fan of the beatles or that kinda of genre otherwise its great

------guess said...
on Jan. 24 2012 at 11:18 am
what a hippie

on Jan. 2 2012 at 1:23 pm
WynterPage95 ELITE, Monticello, Arkansas
164 articles 8 photos 76 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It's better to burn out than to fade away..." -Kurt Cobain

I myself am a huge Beatles fan and a huge John Lennon fan. And like you, they were before my generation which is a huge shame. I love that there are people out there who still appreciate the soul of music, thank you for writing this. It was a wonderful piece.

on Jan. 2 2012 at 8:45 am
northursday BRONZE, Fredericksburg, Virginia
1 article 5 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life, when I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wrote down "Happy," they told me I didn't understand the assignment, I told them they didn't understand life."
- John Lennon

I love John Lennon. This article is good, I suppose. It's very straightforward.

bladeboy12 said...
on Oct. 28 2011 at 11:26 am
i like to play video games on my ps3 called balck ops

on Oct. 5 2011 at 2:01 pm
well writion good job

on Aug. 23 2011 at 11:57 pm
IamtheshyStargirl PLATINUM, Lothlorien, Utah
44 articles 16 photos 2206 comments

Favorite Quote:
Boredom instigates extreme creativity.

"Bowing gratefully to all of my subjects, 'thank you. Thank you. The pleasure is mine." Nah, I'm just kidding. We're all kings together.'"

Amazing, I too am a fan of John Lennon and his music.

on May. 27 2011 at 3:22 am
Wildflower30 SILVER, Kolkata, Other
8 articles 0 photos 88 comments

Favorite Quote:
Create your own sayings, for only then do they make sense most. ---- Me

Very well-written!
It's a crazy fact, that Chapman killed Lennon because he, too, was a die-hard fan (who woudn't be?) and he wanted his name and Lennon's to appear in the same sentence, for once!
John Lennon is my hero, too. The world might seem pretty oppressive to whimsical minds, who give emotion more importance. Many great people had experienced rehab. It's sad to admit that such a pure-hearted man was destroyed by reality.
"Nowhere Man", he is. A movie was released called "Nowhere Boy", which is about Lennon's life. It's a much-watch for fans. 

on May. 5 2011 at 5:25 pm
Odessa_Sterling00 DIAMOND, No, Missouri
87 articles 108 photos 966 comments

Favorite Quote:
All gave some, some gave all. -War Veterans headstone.

I wish I could have met him.

on Mar. 8 2011 at 3:12 pm
DifferentTeen PLATINUM, Seaford, Delaware
32 articles 2 photos 329 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There’s no such thing as true love, just spurts of insanity—falling over and over again, thinking that won’t happen to me"

The Beatles are my favorite band. Nice article. :D


on Feb. 28 2011 at 11:48 am
mysteries58 PLATINUM, Blacksburg, VA, Virginia
20 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It's the courage to keep going that counts. " -Winston Churchill

This was beautiful, and so refreshing to see amidst the type of acclaim usually given to those who had far less talent and impact than Lennon. He is one of my most treasured heroes as well, and you have provided the magazine with a very well-written piece on his life. Thumbs up!

on Nov. 27 2010 at 5:55 pm
HippieNamedAnna PLATINUM, Kansas City, Missouri
21 articles 7 photos 90 comments

Favorite Quote:
Let It Be-The Beatles
Music is the only thing that makes sense any more-Me
Make love, not war-a bunch of people
Roses are red, Violets are blue, I have five fingers, The middle one's for you-Me :)

Wow. You type a lot. But I did a bunch of research and found that he had more good then bad in him and I am able to see past his bad qualities.

reissumies said...
on Nov. 27 2010 at 9:51 am

I understand your choice of a hero. John Lennon was once hero material for me as well.  I have been a life long Beatles fan, and I also very much enjoy the Beatles solo material.  The Beatles broke ground with every chord. 

But now as I am older, I see Lennon more clearly.  He was an exceedingly vain and rude person. He spoke and campaigned for peace, but the actions in his own life were far from peaceful. I cannot, e.g., respect a man who leaves his wife and child for another woman in such a cold cruel manner.  John Lennon was selfish, a drug abuser, and should not be anyone's role model.  The sad part of this story is that when he was murdered, I believe he was truly in the process of reconciling his past.  We will never know, but perhaps this "Clean Up Time" he sang about was the start of his humbling himself and his asking forgiveness from those he hurt so badly.  I believe people can change and should be forgiven if they ask sincerely.  So it is possible that Lennon would have someday re-earned my respect and that I too would have called him my hero.  Chapman stole that chance away.

on Nov. 10 2010 at 5:40 pm
HippieNamedAnna PLATINUM, Kansas City, Missouri
21 articles 7 photos 90 comments

Favorite Quote:
Let It Be-The Beatles
Music is the only thing that makes sense any more-Me
Make love, not war-a bunch of people
Roses are red, Violets are blue, I have five fingers, The middle one's for you-Me :)

John Lennon and The Beatles are my heros. They inspired me so much. I have writen countless poems that were inspired by their songs. The Beatles are my favorite band in the world, and no one can replace them. They have been since 1st grade. Lennon is my life inspiration. This is really good.

on Aug. 14 2010 at 11:22 pm
DaydreamBeliever GOLD, Lockport, Other
15 articles 4 photos 140 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you live to be one hundred, I want to live to be one hundred minus one day, so that I'll never have to live without you. -Winnie the Pooh

I love this. I love The Beatles (as I'm sure you can tell), and I love John Lennon. He was a great man, and it seems that the best people are the ones who suffer for the rest of the world. It's really sad, actually.

on Jul. 27 2010 at 9:23 pm

This article has many errors. The 'WAR IS OVER' billboards were in 11 cities around the world, not just America. I think they were New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Rome, Athens, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Also, Nixon tried to deport him because of his use of illegal drugs.

on Jul. 1 2010 at 12:10 am
songofheaven BRONZE, East Amherst, New York
2 articles 2 photos 51 comments

Favorite Quote:
I have found power in the mysteries of thought. -Euripides

I think John Lennon had an amazing mind. He had so many secret dreams he kept hidden to everyone, but the people who listened to his music carefully. I feel bad for him and his childhood. Not only that, but the way he had to die, and all because he wanted peace. The world is so messed up.