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John Lennon Legacy: Imagined or Real?

Updated on October 11, 2010

Imagine all those people...

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Both created by John Lennon in different times of his life. The first, in the early 70s, the second, in 1963, when he wrote, "She Loves You". But what is it about death that immortalizes a celebrity? Look at James Dean, he did only 1 or 2 big movies in the mid-50s, then he was killed in an auto accident. Buddy Holly- John's idol as a teenager, dies in an airplane crash. Then, Lennon, murdered on the streets of NYC minutes after leaving a studio in 1980.

But really, would even John, had he lived, considered himself as a legacy? Would Liverpool named an airport after him, why not Paul? Heck, why not Ringo? or George? well, John was killed so that automatically denied the world of something we wanted. But, what about George? He is dead from throat cancer, the world hardly worships his birthday!

Does John really deserve it? I grew up worshiping the Beatles, I mean, they were Gods to me. I identified with John's rebellion and many radical ideas against authority, but really, after the Beatles were done (you know, John may have found true love with Yoko, but the rest of the world considered her an enemy of the State of Beatles!) John drifted into a lot of negativity about himself and others. All this shit is now released on remastered takes of John's post Beatle LPs from 1970-75-thanks to Yoko. 

I bought all of John's post Beatle LPs, and there is little of real worth, musically, unless you like a lot of depressing declarations about how John was thinking. They do not compare to his Beatle songs-they sounded empty, lacking, bare. After of listening to 12 songs, all of similar beat or rant, you get sick of it. The few standouts are , Working Class Hero, Whatever Gets You Through the Night, Imagine (now John's banner song), Cold Turkey and a few more.

As a Beatle fan, I was greatly unhappy about the material both Paul and John created after The Beatles. None really stands out. John's anti-Vietnam war stance was real and part PR, as was his love in with Yoko. The media did NOT like her. Many celebs were taking the same stance. John's Imagine song is not one his best. Many celebs want the world to live as one, heck, even President Obama. So, why is John receiving this status? Even he would be amused about it. One can just hear him say about the song, Imagine,: "It's just a song". Just as he said about The Beatles: " We were just a rock band that made it very, very big".

I am sure Paul is wondering privately, "why is John getting this legacy thing", "He's no better then me self, heck, it was me that improved many of his songs".

Well, Paul, it is because death creates it in artists taken from a world that adores them. John's image will live on forever. John will be put on a slightly higher level than Paul is on, right or wrong, because of the murder. Who knows what would've been created by John had he lived?

Would John or Paul been so successful without The Beatles or their brother like relationship and love?

No way. Both had limited talent. Together, they had unlimited talent. That should be the legacy regarding John's birthday. John by himself was no saint: he was a very jealous man, relied on drugs or booze to buffer the pain of no family and little love (as told in the movie, Nowhere Boy). John would tell you that The Beatles were his family, his love, and without them, he would have failed in life. That is why in 1969 the Beatles' divorce was so bitter to watch (see the movie, Let It Be). Remembering John without Paul and their relationship is minimizing it. 

John is only a legacy because he was a Beatle first, and the Beatles were John, Paul, George and Ringo.


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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Understood, BUT, John was killed in 1980. Between 1970-80, John wallowed in jealousy, hate, self pity, especially when Yoko and him split. If there had been no Beatles before that time, one can honestly say John had talent, he was a good singer, creative etc. but of legendary status? I think it would be hard to say it was. Even the last LP he had just finished before being shot was only OK, not a big seller.

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      We do have a need to create legends, so often we put mortals on a pedestal for our own gratification. As for John, I do see him as part of the Beatles, but also as a talent on his own right. The fact that he had human faults should not diminish his legacy; as a man Michelangelo was far from perfect and so was Da Vinci and most of the icons of art. Are they less magnificent because of it? Not as far as I am concern.

      Personal life and morals of an artist should not enter the equation of the artistic value of their work. The very reason that some of them become legends in death is that time validates their contribution to humanity while forgetting and forgiving their human shortcomings in life.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      I agree to a point..but John's legacy is with the Beatles, it is NOT by himself, just as Paul's legacy will be. Saying John was great by himself is silly. He is no more great than Eric Clapton, who can outplay John anytime.

    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 

      8 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      I love the Beatles' music and I am a big fan of all of them, separate and together. I believe that Lennon would have been just as important to the history of music had he lived to be 64. Everyone has their own taste in music, but Lennon's speaks to me. Have a glorious day!


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