John Winston Ono Lennon (born John Winston Lennon; 9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter, musician and peace activist who achieved worldwide fame as the founder, co-lead vocalist, and rhythm guitarist of the Beatles.
Lennon was born at Liverpool Maternity Hospital to Julia (née Stanley) (1914–1958) and Alfred Lennon (1912–1976). He was in kinship care with his aunt for most of his childhood.
His father was often away from home. When he eventually came home, he offered to look after the family, but Julia, by then pregnant with another man's child, rejected the idea. After her sister Mimi complained to Liverpool's Social Services twice, Julia gave her custody of Lennon.
In July 1946, Lennon's father visited her and took his son to Blackpool, secretly intending to emigrate to New Zealand with him. Julia followed them – with her partner at the time, Bobby Dykins – and after a heated argument, his father forced the five-year-old to choose between them. In one account of this incident, Lennon twice chose his father, but as his mother walked away, he began to cry and followed her. Lennon had no further contact with Alf for close to 20 years.
Throughout the rest of his childhood and adolescence, Lennon lived at Mendips, 251 Menlove Avenue, Woolton, with Mimi and her husband George Toogood Smith, who had no children of their own. His aunt purchased volumes of short stories for him, and his uncle, a dairyman at his family's farm, bought him a mouth organ and engaged him in solving crossword puzzles. Julia visited Mendips on a regular basis, and John often visited her at 1 Blomfield Road, Liverpool, where she played him Elvis Presley records, taught him the banjo, and showed him how to play "Ain't That a Shame" by Fats Domino.
On 15 July 1958, she was knocked down and killed by a car driven by an off-duty policeman, close to her sister's house at 251 Menlove Avenue. Lennon was traumatised by her death and wrote several songs about her, including "Julia" and "Mother".
His songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney remains the most successful in history. In 1969, he started the Plastic Ono Band with his second wife, Yoko Ono. After the Beatles disbanded in 1970, Lennon continued a career as a solo artist and as Ono's collaborator. Starting with 1967's "All You Need Is Love", his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement and the larger counterculture. In 1969, he held the two week-long anti-war demonstration Bed-Ins for Peace. After moving to New York City in 1971, his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a three-year attempt by the Nixon administration to deport him. In 1975, Lennon disengaged from the music business to raise his infant son Sean and, in 1980, returned with the Ono collaboration Double Fantasy. He was shot and killed in the archway of his Manhattan apartment building by a Beatles fan, Mark David Chapman, three weeks after the album's release.