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"A working class hero is something to beIf you want to be a hero, then just follow me"
—"Working Class Hero"
John Winston Ono Lennon (October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980) was one of the leaders of the revolutionary band The Beatles.
- John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band - 1970
- Imagine - 1971
- Mind Games - 1973
- Walls and Bridges - 1974
- Rock 'n' Roll - 1975
With Yoko Ono:
- Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins - 1968
- Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions - 1969
- Wedding Album - 1969
- Live Peace in Toronto 1969 - 1969
- Some Time in New York City - 1972
- Double Fantasy - 1980
- Milk and Honey - 1984 (posthumous)
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Lennon returned his MBE to Buckingham Palace in 1969 (four years after receiving it with the other three Beatles), he enclosed a note giving his reasons: "I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against 'Cold Turkey' slipping down the charts." "Cold Turkey," his most recent single, was turning in a relatively poor performance on the music charts, peaking at No. 14 in the UK and No. 30 in the U.S.
- Artistic Stimulation: Although all four Beatles used drugs of one sort or another throughout much of their group and/or solo careers, Lennon, from 1966 through 1969, indulged much more heavily than the other three put together, first becoming psychologically dependent on LSD and then, together with Yoko, becoming addicted to heroin. Although both dependencies caused him considerable suffering, they did serve (again, far more than for his bandmates) as inspiration for some of his greatest songs - most directly "Cold Turkey," essentially heroin withdrawal symptoms set to music.
- The Atoner: As evidenced in the songs "Jealous Guy" and "Woman," in which Lennon expresses remorse for his previous treatment of the women in his life.
- He also felt very guilty about being a Disappeared Dad to his first son Julian, and attempted to repair their relationship toward the end of his life.
- Author Existence Failure: Various remixes, outtakes, and demos of unfinished Lennon recordings have been released, starting with the Milk and Honey album. This included Lennon's fellow Beatles adapting two low-quality Lennon home demos into "new" Beatles songs in 1995, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love."
- Big Applesauce: An album, a song, a famous photo.
"There's UFOs over New York, and I ain't too surprised." -- "Nobody Told Me"
- Bigger Than Jesus: The Trope Namer, although John didn't actually say it. His actual Blasphemous Boast (which wasn't actually a boast, either) in 1966 was a claim that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus," which passed without notice in his native England, then landed him and his bandmates in big trouble when the interview was reprinted in America. However, in 2008 the official Vatican newspaper played down the significance of his remark, effectively absolving him.
- Billing Displacement: How I Won The War, a 1966 film in which Lennon has a supporting role as Private Gripweed, was marketed with Lennon prominently featured. Roger Ebert noted this in a contemporary review of the film and it remains true in the recent DVD release.
- Brilliant but Lazy: Journalist Maureen Cleave wrote of John, "He can sleep almost indefinitely, is probably the laziest person in England."
- John even wrote two songs about it: with The Beatles it was "I'm Only Sleeping", and solo it was "Watching The Wheels".
- He took five years off of work, 1975-80.
- Broken Ace
- Broken Record: From John Sinclair
What else can the judges do?
Gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta,
gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta,
gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta,
gotta, gotta, gotta set him free
- Byronic Hero: Oh yeah.
- Call Back: The first verse of "Power to the People" starts thusly: "Say you want a revolution/We better get it on right away!". This is a Call Back to his more skeptical take in his Beatles song "Revolution": "You say you want a revolution/Well you know/We all want to change the world."
- Christmas Rushed: Double Fantasy was originally conceived as a double album, but John and Yoko eventually opted to put out the songs that were ready as a single album in order to get the record out in time for the 1980 holiday shopping season. The songs left off the album were eventually released, with Lennon's in varying states of completion, on Milk and Honey.
- Christmas Songs: "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"
- Cloudcuckoolander: So, so very much, which is a big part of why he's still fondly remembered.
- During the Beatles' early, pre-fame Hamburg performances, Lennon, goofed up on speed and urged by the owner of the Kaiserkeller club to "Mach shau!" ("Make a show!"), would pull such stunts as coming onstage naked with a toilet seat around his neck, and taunting his audience by goosestepping around and calling them "stupid fucking Nazis" (they reportedly loved it).
- Soon after he took his relationship with Yoko public, the two of them pulled a series of unusual stunts promoting the cause of world peace: holding two "bed-ins" with numerous hangers-on and reporters in attendance, sitting nearly motionless onstage inside a bag for forty-five minutes, and mailing acorns to world leaders.
- Contemptible Cover: Two Virgins, which featured John and Yoko completely nude.
- Cool Car: His famous 1965 Rolls Royce Phantom V, customized with, among other features, a very psychedelic paint job.
- Cover Album: Rock 'n' Roll
- Creator Breakdown: His highly acclaimed 1970 solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, was the fruit of months spent in "primal scream" therapy, during which he brutally confronted his feelings of Parental Abandonment and disillusionment with his life as a Beatle. Another single from this era, "Cold Turkey," is about his struggle to get over his heroin addiction.
- To a less dramatic extent, there's also Lennon's earlier Beatles songs, "I'm a Loser" and "Help!", the product of what he later called his "fat Elvis" period, in which he felt depressed, trapped and empty inside after the thrill of Beatlemania had worn off.
- Some of his later solo albums also reek of unfortunate situations taking their toll on the musician. Mind Games speaks from a time of disillusionment and a nagging threat of deportation. After that is Walls and Bridges, where John does not seem to be much better off for his temporary split from Yoko Ono.
- Daddy Didn't Show: Lennon lived this trope from both perspectives, due to his relationships with his father Freddy and eldest son Julian.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Parental abandonment issues, coupled with abusing the women he loved.
- Dead Artists Are Better: Far from a perfect example of this trope, as Lennon had more than his share of critical and popular recognition during his lifetime. Nevertheless, the years following his murder saw his less positive traits, and the unevenness of his post-Beatles career output, largely forgotten in favor of the mythical image (strongly, but not solely, cultivated by his widow) of Lennon as a gentle, saintly prophet of peace. As a result, when Albert Goldman published his negative, sensationalistic The Lives of John Lennon a mere eight years after the subject's death, he received, in addition to justly deserved criticism for his shoddy and selective research, numerous death threats from Lennon fans for daring to say anything negative about him. (Which, given the "prophet of peace" bit, is Completely Missing the Point.)
Everybody loves you when you're six feet in the ground
- Deadpan Snarker: A noted master.
"Time wounds all heels." (on his immigration fight, after he finally got his green card in 1976)
- The Dead Rise to Advertise: Encouraging us to donate to One Laptop Per Child. It's a good cause and all, but still unnerving. A "'portable' computer with built-in monitor" DID exist in John Lennon's lifetime. . The screen size looks somewhat like the OLPC. They should have made a pun of that perhaps?
- Disappeared Dad: When John was five, his father Freddy abandoned his family after a heated marital argument and didn't re-establish contact with his son for twenty years (conveniently re-entering his life, twice, after the Beatles became famous).
- John himself towards Julian, his son with first wife Cynthia, due to the Beatles' constant touring, John's growing boredom with Cynthia and conventional domestic life, and his numerous infidelities. During Lennon's "lost weekend" period of estrangement from Ono (see below), he managed somewhat to repair his relationship with Julian. That's why the track "Ya Ya" from Walls and Bridges has the then-11-year-old Julian on drums.
- Averted with John and Sean, his son with Yoko. As a househusband from 1975 to the end of his life, Lennon was a doting and enthusiastic father.
- Distinct Double Album: Some Time In New York City contains one album of new studio material and one album of live recordings.
- Excited Show Title: "Instant Karma!", "Oh Yoko!"
- Falling Bass: "Mind Games"
- Generation Xerox: John spent his childhood separate from his mother (her having left him with his aunt Mimi when he was five), and he felt regret and anger about it throughout his adolescence, but towards the end of his teenage years resumed contact with her for a few years and patched up their relationship. Only for her to be killed at the hands of a drunk driver. Julian was left by John with Cynthia for the vast majority of his childhood and became a Disappeared Dad for Julian's entire childhood and adolescence. Towards the end of his teenage years, John came back into contact with him, and they slowly patched up their relationship over the next couple years. Only for John to be murdered by a crazed fan.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Imagine," by Lennon's own admission, is basically The Communist Manifesto set to music, although it could arguably be considered more similar to the writings of anarcho-communists like Pyotr Kropotkin and Emma Goldman, who took issue with some of Marx's ideas.
- God: "is a concept by which we measure our pain."
- A God Am I: Following an LSD trip in May 1968, he was convinced he was Jesus reincarnated and convened a private meeting with his bandmates the next day to tell them so. They wisely humoured him and said they needed time to mull it over before announcing it to the world. Sure enough, by day's end he'd forgotten all about it and instead spent the night recording Two Virgins (and engaging in other non-virginal activities) with Yoko.
- Going Cold Turkey: "Cold Turkey". Heroin withdrawal set to music.
- Good Is Not Nice: He was a great activist for peace. And a dick. In this case, one led to the other - see The Atoner.
- Greatest Hits Album: Shaved Fish in his lifetime. Lennon Legend, The John Lennon Collection, and others after his death, most recently Power to the People: The Hits.
- Grief Song: "Mother" and "My Mummy's Dead," which respectively open and close his album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Later, his death inspired several, including his old Beatles bandmate George Harrison's "All Those Years Ago," released five months after Lennon was killed. In a rare reunion of ex-Beatles, Ringo Starr also played drums and Paul McCartney the bass on the single, which reached No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard chart.
- Grow Old with Me: Title to one of the last songs he ever wrote. Tragically averted.
- Happily Married: To Yoko, with the exception of the notorious eighteen-month "lost weekend" during which he moved to Los Angeles with secretary May Pang (at Ono's own suggestion). Some biographers have claimed that even before and after that period their marriage was far from the Edenic bliss the couple publicly claimed it was.
- Hollywood Nerd: Type 2
- Hot and Cold
- House Husband: Although he admitted in his 1980 Playboy interview that they had a staff of domestics to do the housework,which means that basically he spent five years loafing about at home (and, more positively, spending time with his son).
- Insufferable Genius: During his worst moments; see below...
- Jerkass: Far from completely so, to be sure, but Lennon himself, in his music and in interviews, owned up to his hair-trigger temper and tendency toward casual, cruel sarcasm.
- John admitted in many, many, many interviews, especially by 1980, that he developed a tough guy, chauvinistic, sarcastic, "teddy boy" facade, a "working class hero" image in leather jacket, and was cruel to his woman and beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved, because he was hiding his painful, broken childhood, the loss of his parents, hiding his embarrassment at being from a well-to-do family (particularly where Aunt Mimi was concerned) who became a rich rock star (hence "imagine no possessions"), had a hard time coping without a woman as his beck and call (hence the "baking bread" business), and had difficulty communicating, so he resorted to violence. He dressed like a teddy boy, but admitted that around any real "teddy boys", he would have gotten beat up. It took him a long time and the help of Yoko to start getting straightened out, and by then he was killed.
- After the breakup of the Beatles he had a habit of exaggerating his contributions to a few songs. Most notably he claimed that he wrote 70 percent of Eleanor Rigby, a claim that even his childhood friend disputes.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Lennon Specs: They do look pretty goddamn cool, don't they?
- List Song: "God" is mainly a list of things Lennon doesn't believe in.
- The Man: From "New York City"--If the man wants to shove us out/We gonna jump and shout/The Statue of Liberty said, "come!"
- Male Frontal Nudity: See Contemptible Cover above.
- Missing Mom: Although the free-spirited Julia Lennon agreed to have her more responsible sister, Mimi, do the practical work of raising her son, she and John had a close relationship, more like best friends...until she was killed by a drunk driver when he was 17. This was the defining tragedy in Lennon's life, finding artistic expression in "Julia" (from The White Album) and, more directly and painfully, in "Mother" and "My Mummy's Dead" (which respectively opened and closed Plastic Ono Band).
- Named After Somebody Famous: John Winston Lennon.
- Nerd Glasses: His infamous Lennon Specs.
- Never Learned to Read: Sheet music.
- N-Word Privileges: In 1969, in the U.K., in the course of being interviewed by a Nova magazine reporter, Yoko said, "... woman is the nigger of the world"; three years later, John published the song "Woman is the Nigger of the World" (1972) - about the virtually universal exploitation of woman - proved socially and politically controversial to U.S. sensibilities. It's worth noting, though, that many prominent black entertainers of the day were among the most ardent defenders of the song.
- Parental Abandonment
- Posthumous Collaboration: Milk and Honey with Yoko Ono
- Precision F-Strike: Twice in "Working Class Hero".
- Protest Song: Many. Some Time in New York City, in fact, was basically an entire protest album. Lennon's strident advocacy during this period helped make Some Time in New York City a critical and commercial failure.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "How Do You Sleep?", from 1971's Imagine, directed toward Paul McCartney at the depth of their mutual hatred. A response to Paul's "Too Many People" from Ram, released earlier the same year. (The two buried the hatchet a few years later.)
- Rebel Leader: Considered by many to be the voice of an entire generation, the Voice of the Resistance, earning the hatred of Richard Nixon, poster boy of President Corrupt, and his entire administration, which tried a number of times to have him deported on drug charges. Following his assassination, Epileptic Trees claimed that he had been targeted by a Government Conspiracy
- The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: The Bed-Ins for Peace.
- Shout-Out: "I don't believe in Zimmerman" ("God")
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: John and Yoko, at times.
- Silly Love Songs: The inspiration behind the Trope Namer. John criticized Paul McCartney for writing "silly love songs"... and so Paul wrote a song with that exact title.
- Not that Lennon himself was entirely immune to these. "Woman", anyone? "Dear Yoko"?
- Sir Swearsalot: His therapist described him as having "The mouth of a Merseyside Docker".
- The Snark Knight
- Stepford Snarker: As mentioned in various above examples, much of his snarkiness and cynicism was a Jerkass Facade to hide his turmoil over having been abandoned by both parents.
- Teasing Creator
- Three Chords and the Truth: Plastic Ono Band.
- Title-Only Chorus: "Well Well Well"
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Once upon a time to Paul McCartney
- Word Salad Lyrics: "I Am the Walrus," "What's the New Mary Jane," "Come Together," "Sun King," "Give Peace a Chance," the chorus to "#9 Dream."
- To an extent, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."
- Young Future Famous People: Nowhere Boy is a film starring Aaron Johnson released in 2009 (in the U.K.; 2010 everywhere else) based on John Lennon's early life. Co-starring Thomas Sangster as Paul McCartney.
- Also Backbeat, starring Ian Hart as Hamburg-era Lennon and Stephen Dorff as his friend/bandmate Stu Sutcliffe.