JOHN LENNON BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
John Winston Lennon was born October 9, 1940 in Liverpool, England during a German air raid in World War II. When he was four his parent separated and he went to live with his aunt. His mother remarried, but frequently visited Lennon and his sister. In July 1958, she was struck by a car driven by an off duty police officer and killed. The tragedy stuck with him for the rest of his life, contributing to the messages and tones in some of his written songs. It was especially difficult, since his mother was the one who had supported him in his passion for music, even buying him his first guitar two years before her death.
During the Liverpool skiffle craze, Lennon hopped on board and formed his own band with Paul McCartney, called The Quarrymen. It turned into The Beatles in 1960, with the addition of Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best. The latter two ended up leaving the band, consequently leaving an opening which Ringo Starr would fill. After some years of performing in Liverpool and Germany, “Beatlemania” broke out in 1963 in Europe, and 1964 in America. 1964 also saw The Beatles’ first onscreen appearance in “A Hard Day’s Night”. It was a comical mockumentary following a few days in the lives of the band members. It found great success, far overshadowing their second film, “Help!” (1965), which was poorly executed and had a difficult storyline.
Lennon began his solo career in film shortly following, beginning with two guest appearances on the television show “Not Only…But Also” (1965-66). After, he played a role in the short “Reflections on Love” (1966). The Beatles’ next filming project was “The Magical Mystery Tour” (1967), a television movie that followed them on tour. Each member of the band served as a writer, producer, and director of the picture. Lennon tried to break away from the drama that had been created between The Beatles and his recent relationship with Yoko Ono, a Japanese peace activist and avant-garde artist, by starring in the black comedy “How I Won the War” (1967). He then decided to take on some new aspects of the filmmaking process, serving as writer, producer, and director on “Two Virgins” (1968) and “Smile” (1968). “Two Virgins”, a nineteen minute film, featured only himself and his soon-to-be wife, Yoko Ono. It was controversial in that its cover featured the pair entirely nude. “Smile”, a documentary, once again had only Lennon and Ono in its credits.
A year later, he made two additional pictures, “Honeymoon” (1969), a documentary on Lennon and Ono’s “Bed-in for Peace” filmed in their Amsterdam hotel room during their honeymoon, and “Rape”, a dramatic made for TV film shot in the view of the cameraman as he chases a women through the streets of a city. He made a brief reunion with The Beatles on film for “Let it Be” (1970), which he also produced. Ironically, it was actually a chronicle of their imminent breakup. On a positive note, every member earned an Oscar for Best Music.
Lennon quickly returned to his own filmmaking after making a short appearance on the TV show “4-3-2-1 Hot and Sweet” (1970). He also, however, began a solo music career with various hits, and failures, and one number one single.
His and Ono’s picture “Apotheosis” (1970) was an eighteen minute recording of the couple’s trip in a hot air balloon over a snow covered countryside. “Up Your Legs Forever” (1970) consisted of continuous panning of various pairs of human legs – 367 in all. “Freedom” (1970) was a sixty second shot of a woman trying to unclasp her bra, only to end right before it is actually achieved. “Fly” (1970) followed a fly as it crawled over a nude woman’s body, and served as a celebration of the human body.
He took a brief break from his wife to produce a serious documentary on a political activist for “Ten for Two: The John Sinclair Freedom Rally” (1971). He returned to her right after, to make “Erection” (1971), which documented the erection of a building. They worked on two more project together, a surreal portrayal of a day in the lives of John Lennon and Yoko Ono called “Imagine” (1972), and a recording for TV of their benefit for the Willbrook Institution for Retarded Children in New York titled “John Lennon and Yoko Ono Present the One-to-One Concert” (1972). After, they separated for eighteen months, but returned to each other and had their only child together (Lennon had one with his first wife, Cynthia Lennon). He then opted to leave the music and film industries to stay home and raise his son.
Lennon made only one more movie appearance, for the drama “Fire in the Water” (1977). In 1980 he made a comeback to the music business with a new popular album. Unfortunately, only a few weeks after its release, on October 8, he was shot in the back four times back by Mark David Chapman while returning to his New York apartment with Ono. Chapman remains in jail to this day for ending the artist’s life so short.
His impact has been immense – he is a household name in the music industry, with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Even more, the peace messages in his films and songs encouraged others to follow his humanitarian approach to life. A revolution was even started based on the meanings behind his works.
“My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.”
2003 Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon
1977 Fire in the Water
1972 Oh! Calcutta!
1972 John Lennon and Yoko Ono Present the One-to-One Concert
1971 Ten for Two: The John Sinclair Freedom Rally
1970 Up Your Legs Forever
1970 4-3-2-1 Hot and Sweet
1970 Let it Be
1968 Yellow Submarine
1968 Two Virgins
1967 Magical Mystery Tour
1967 How I Won the War
1966 Reflections on Love
1965 Not Only... But Also
1964 A Hard Day's Night