It’s been 37 years since John Lennon was gunned down outside of his New York City apartment, leaving fans throughout the world shocked and creating a huge vacuum in the landscape of popular music.
Lennon had been a co-founder of the world’s most successful band and an inspiration to every kid with three chords and a cheap guitar. In just four decades, the troubled young man from Liverpool grew into one of the most influential artists of all time. His fingerprints are all over the music that would follow. And it’s hard now to imagine what modern popular music would be without his contribution to the 60’s.
John’s father skipped out when he was just six years old. Shortly after, his mother, Julia, sent the boy to live with his aunt; and the trauma of those events would stick with Lennon throughout his life. Many who knew him then have said that if John hadn’t found music, he would have ended up dead or in prison.
But destiny had other plans for this kid from Liverpool. He started a Skiffle group around 1957 and invited another young musician from the neighborhood (Paul McCartney) to join the band later that year. Shortly after, Paul suggested that they bring in one of his schoolmates- a promising guitarist named George Harrison. And the rest is history.
The Beatles would go on to become the most successful band in the world. They dominated the 1960’s and their shadow still looms over every songwriter that has followed in the past 50 years.
Sure, Lennon had his faults. He spent most of the 1970’s dabbling in drugs and releasing albums that could be considered mediocre at best. But by the time he was assassinated in front of the Dakota in 1980, the Walrus was once again making music that mattered. His last album, Double Fantasy, has aged better than most of its contemporaries. And it continues to influence songwriters even now.
A world without the Walrus would’ve never known songs like All You Need Is Love, In My Life or Imagine. And nearly four decades after his death, we should still remember what one man brought to the millions of us who would follow.
Here’s to the kid from Liverpool. Here’s to the Walrus.