(1940 – 1980)
John Lennon was always the Beatles' most restless creative force, as well known for his acerbic humor and his taste for the outré as for the iconic hits that he and Paul McCartney wrote for the band. Not surprisingly, it was Lennon whose post-Beatles life was the most colorful and provocative, and his musical and personal moves consistently kept him in the headlines, even during his extended break from musical activity in the second half of the 1970s.
Lennon had already began to pursue outside creative outlets while still a Beatle, writing a pair of books of humorous verse, acting in Richard Lester's film How I Won the War and performing on his own in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. After he met artist and future wife Yoko Ono in the late '60s, the two recorded a pair of avant-garde Unfinished Music albums that confused and alienated Beatles fans.
Lennon's proper solo debut was 1970's revelatory John Lennon Plastic Ono Band, whose confessional introspection lived up to Lennon's reputation for brutal honesty. His subsequent solo efforts — Imagine, Mind Games, Walls and Bridges and the all-covers, Phil Spector-produced Rock 'n' Roll — all demonstrated considerable audaciousness and imagination.
A resident of New York City in his post-Beatles years, Lennon also embraced political activism and was vocal in his opposition to America's military involvement in Vietnam. Those activities attracted the attention of the administration of Richard Nixon, which sought unsuccessfully to deport Lennon.
When his son Sean was born in 1975, Lennon devoted himself to fatherhood, taking a five-year hiatus from recording. He ended it with the 1980 release of Double Fantasy, but an assassin's bullet ended Lennon's life a few weeks after the album's release.