John Lennon's Life in Pictures

Rare photos of the restless genius who became a Beatle and much more.
Images loading...

In Germany, 1960

A 19-year-old Lennon during the Beatles’ first stint performing in Hamburg, Germany, where they started to refine their sound and gained experience before a crowd. Pete Best was the group’s drummer at the time (Ringo Starr joined in 1962).
Photo by: Redferns

Beautiful Boy

Portrait of the artist as a fresh-faced young Liverpudlian.
Photo by: Everett Collection

With His Mother, Julia, 1948

Lennon was raised by his Aunt Mimi and saw his mother only occasionally until he reconnected with her as a teen. "She just couldn’t deal with life," he said about Julia to Playboy. "I lost her twice. When I was five and I moved in with my auntie, and then when she physically died. That made me more bitter; the chip on my shoulder I had as a youth got really big then." (The new film Nowhere Boy chronicles this time in his life; for an interview with the director, click here.)
Photo by: Getty Images

With His Band The Quarrymen, 1956

Lennon’s first band, formed with school friends, was The Quarrymen. "I used to think I must be a genius, but nobody’s noticed," he told Rolling Stone about his childhood. "I used to think, well, I can’t be mad, because nobody’s put me away, therefore, I’m a genius."
Photo by: Retna Ltd.

With The Beatles in the Cavern Club, 1962

The Fab Four made hundreds of appearances at Liverpool’s Cavern Club. It was there that Brian Epstein, who became their manager, first caught their act in 1961.
Photo by: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Signing Autographs for the Police, 1963

The Beatles’ first album released in Britain, Please Please Me, went to No. 1 in ’63 and ignited Beatlemania. "We didn’t sound like everybody else," Lennon told Rolling Stone.
Photo by: Mirrorpix/Courtesy Everett Collection

With Wife Cynthia in New York, 1964

In February ’64 the Beatles arrived in New York to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show. Cynthia, Lennon’s girlfriend at art college and first wife (they wed in 1962), accompanied them.
Photo by: Mirrorpix/Courtesy Everett Collection

Rehearsing for "The Ed Sullivan Show," 1964

Beatlemania hit the U.S. when the Fab Four appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for three Sundays in a row. The impact of the show-and the fact that parents just didn’t get the fuss over the group-could not be overestimated, writes Fred Kaplan on Seventy million viewers watched the group on the venerable variety show.
Photo by: Mirrorpix/Courtesy Everett Collection

On Location for "A Hard Day’s Night," 1964

The Beatles’ first film was the loopy, music-filled romp A Hard Day’s Night. The rock & roll musical as Elvis pioneered it had left the building.
Photo by: Mirrorpix/Courtesy Everett Collection

With Cynthia and Son Julian, 1965

The point of this quirky photo op has been lost to time. The session took place at the Lennons’ home in Surrey.
Photo by: Retna

Promoting "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band," 1967

This wildly ambitious-and successful-concept album was a landmark in rock & roll. It was the first to come with printed song lyrics.
Photo by: Mirrorpix/Courtesy Everett Collection

With Mick Jagger, 1968

These two titans of British rock appeared in the concert film The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, made for the BBC but not released until the 1990s.
Photo by: Retna Ltd.

With Yoko Ono During Their Honeymoon Bed-In, 1969

Lennon and Yoko Ono married in March 1969 and staged an antiwar bed-in protest in Amsterdam. Lennon told Playboy later, "When we got married, we knew our honeymoon was going to be public, anyway, so we decided to use it to make a statement. We sat in bed and talked to reporters for seven days. It was hilarious. In effect, we were doing a commercial for peace on the front page of the papers instead of a commercial for war."
Photo by: Everett Collection

With Ono in Ascot, 1971

This photograph was taken in the White Room where the video for "Imagine" was shot. Responding to those who said Ono had broken up the Beatles, Lennon told Rolling Stone, "I presumed that I would just be able to carry on, and bring Yoko into our life, but it seemed that I had to either be married to them or Yoko, and I chose Yoko, and I was right."
Photo by: Retna Ltd.

With Julian and May Pang, 1974

For an 18-month period in the early ’70s-which Lennon later referred to as his "lost weekend"-he and Ono separated and he became involved with May Pang (right of Lennon in photo), who had been the couple’s assistant. Ono, who initiated the separation, reportedly suggested to Pang that she take up with-and take care of-Lennon. In early 1975, Lennon and Ono reconciled. "It was like being sent into the desert," Lennon told Playboy in 1980 of their split. "And the reason she wouldn’t let me back in was because I wasn’t ready to come back in. I had to settle things within myself."
Photo by: Redferns

With Ono and Their Son Sean, 1978

After several miscarriages and trouble getting pregnant, Ono gave birth (on Lennon’s 35th birthday) to the only child they had together, Sean. Lennon put his career aside for several years to care for Sean and become a househusband.
Photo by: Retna Ltd.

With Ono, January 1980

Less than a year after this picture was taken, Lennon was shot and killed by a deranged fan in front of his apartment building, the Dakota on New York’s Upper West Side. The couple had just released a new album, Double Fantasy. But in the last interviews he gave, Lennon was still being asked about the possibility of a Beatles reunion. "My thing is, out of sight, out of mind," he told Playboy. "That’s my attitude toward life. . . . I don’t believe in yesterday, by the way. . . . I am only interested in what I am doing now." CHECK OUT OUR PICKS FOR THE TOP 10 JOHN LENNON SONGS HERE.
Photo by: Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Share Your Thoughts!


Post new comment

Click to add a comment
Member Voices
Shoes & Accessories
Woman of Style and Substance
Swim & Lingerie