John Lennon

John Lennon John Lennon in a press photo

Born in Liverpool, John Winston Lennon, was the founderco-singer/songwriter, and rhythm guitarist for the famed British musical group The Beatles. The compilation album 1 can summarize the extent of their popularity. Released in 2000, it features all 27 of their songs to chart #1 in the U.S. or U.K.

In 1965, the FAB 4 requested to see a real American diner during their second U.S. tour and Bob’s Big Boy Burbank was lucky enough to fill this need to become a part of Beatlemania.

John as a youth

Labeled "the fat Beatle" by the mainstream press, Lennon did admit to the time around he wrote "Help!" to be "my Fat Elvis period." He should be known as "the rebel," specifically for defying musical and cultural convention.

John grew up without a father. He lived with his aunt; he saw his mother on occasion until, tragically, a car killed her while she was walking home. John was just seventeen.

From a very young age, he was characterized for his rebellious nature and acerbic wit. In an 1987 interview, Paul McCartney stated, “He was like our little Elvis. We all looked up to John. He was older and he was very much the leader; he was the quickest wit and the smartest.” Egged on by Paul, with the Queen in the audience, John requested help from the crowd, “Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewelry.” Producer George Martin once quipped he was a “completely impractical man.”

The rebel of the Beatles

The early formation of the band was taking place as early as 1957, but their thirteen full-length albums (one a double) happened in just a mind-bending seven years: Please Please Me (1963), With the Beatles (1963), A Hard Day's Night (1964), Beatles for Sale (1964), Help! (1965), Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966), Sgt. Pepper's (1967), Magical Mystery Tour (1967), The White Album (1968), Yellow Submarine (1969), Abbey Road (1969), and Let It Be (1970).

"I Want to Hold Your Hand", "We Can Work It Out", and "A Day in the Life" are three of the greatest Lennon-McCartney collaborations. The latter being regarded as one of the finest works in the history of music.

Some of Lennon’s greatest songs are: "This Boy", "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away", "Help!", "No Reply", "Norwegian Wood", "In My Life", "I’m Only Sleeping", "Tomorrow Never Knows", "Rain", "I am the Walrus", "Revolution", "Dear Prudence", "Happiness is a Warm Gun", "Come Together", "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", and "Don’t Let Me Down".

1965 Hollywood Bowl concert poster

The Beatles stormed Southern California after their release of Help! (1965). They had four nights off where they stayed in Benedict Canyon from August 23rd to 27th. On the night of August 27th, just days after dining at Bob’s Big Boy Burbank, they would meet their idol Elvis at his home in Bel Air. After playing San Diego on August 28th, they played The Hollywood Bowl consecutive nights, August 29th and 30th.

Album cover for John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

Following the breakup of the Beatles, John released a highly personal debut solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970). "Mother" deals with his feelings of childhood rejection and "Working Class Hero" is a scathing criticism on the difference between social classes. With "Hold On" and "God" as well, it is widely considered the second best Beatles solo album of all time.

Lennon playing the piano

Imagine (1971) is known throughout the world for its title track, "Imagine". With "Jealous Guy", "Oh Yoko" and "How Do You Sleep?" the album is considered one of the top five Beatles solo albums of all time.

The New Yorker

In 1971, John Lennon moved to New York City with Yoko Ono. Some found his political sloganeering heavy-handed and relentless. The Nixon Administration certainly thought so; for three years, unsuccessfully, they tried to have him deported. Some Time in New York City (1972) and Mind Games (1973) are not amazing albums, but "Mind Games" becomes a popular hit song.

The infamous “Lost Weekend” was 18 months between 1973 and 1975, where he was separated from Yoko and drank heavily, living between New York and Los Angeles. Amazingly, he produced two quality albums.

Walls and Bridges (1974) featured the hit single "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" with Elton John on piano and harmony vocals. The blistering sax had a direct influence on the Saturday Night Live theme song. "Going Down on Love", "Bless You”, "#9 Dream", and "Steel and Glass" make it one of the more underrated Beatles solo albums.

Album cover for Rock 'n' Roll

Rock ‘n' Roll (1975) is an album of late-50’s/early-60’s American covers. While not initially well received, even by Lennon himself, it does make plain some of his early loves and influences: Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly. The opening Gene Vincent rockabilly song "Be-Bop-A-Lula" followed by the Lieber and Stoller "Stand by Me", which became the album’s hit single, get the album off to a strong start, but it doesn’t really regain its strength until the end when Lennon sings his heart out on a song Elvis made famous, "Just Because".

Double Fantasy (1980) was a split album with half the songs recorded by Yoko. The strong John songs are “Starting Over,” “Beautiful Boy,” “Watching the Wheels,” and “Woman.” Three weeks after its release Lennon was murdered by a deranged gunman. The album went on to win the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1981.

Milk and Honey (1984) is the sixth and final album from John Lennon. Released posthumously four years after his death, it has six John and six Yoko songs. The John hits are “I’m Stepping Out” and “Nobody Told Me”.

John’s boyhood favorite food was “cream and cornflakes.” He would grow up to favor “cream and brandy” after Harry Nillson introduced him to the Brandy Alexander. John said the cocktails tasted like milkshakes. He once ended a 10-day rice only diet with curry and a milkshake, saying it was “like having every drug [he] ever touched.” The lover of milk and cream likely had a Bob’s Big Boy milkshake when visiting in 1965. What flavor? Strawberry, of course.

'65 Rolls Royce Phantom V

Lennon’s most famous car was, undeniably, his 1965 Rolls Royce Phantom V. Lennon surely took pleasure knowing that he was riding in the same car owned by his hero, Elvis Presley. Lennon’s “Rolls” looked definatly different than the King of Rock’s though. The psychedelic paint job, that at time outraged the Establishment, is now embraced as a masterpiece of design and a jewel of the Swinging Sixties.

John’s first car was the legendary 1965 Ferrari 330 GT. But the “working class hero” also owned modest cars including an Austin Maxi Hatchback and a 1972 Chrysler Town & Country.

Named after Lennon are an airport in his hometown of Liverpool, a crater on Mercury, and “Strawberry Fields” in Central Park.

The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and John as a solo artist in 1994.

John Lennon’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 1750 Vine Street. The Beatles star is at 7080 Hollywood Blvd.

John and Yoko