John Lennon would have turned 70-years-old today if he hadn't been violently snatched away in December 1980. There's no way to encapsulate such a complex, fascinating and often entertaining person in a few words, and there's multiple encyclopedias full of Lennon lore already out there. Instead, we offer this tiny celebration of an innovator who not only advanced rock 'n' roll a huge amount but also showed that one could live completely honestly through their work if they're willing to stand naked in front of the world. (Dennis Cook)
Few artists spoke to power with the same rawness and directness as Lennon, which may explain the resurgence in interest in his music in a time where people everywhere are questioning the societal structures around them.
One thing you never had to doubt about John was how much he believed in the power of rock to transport, delight, inspire and move us.
Managing to be both heavy and joyful, this ranks as one of John's best solo creations.
It's a drag," was Paul's initial reaction to reporters badgering him for a comment on Lennon's death. While a bit pithy, it works. Years later, McCartney offered up this moving reminiscence.
The Dirty Mac was Lennon, Mitch Mitchell (drums), Eric Clapton (guitar) and Keith Richards (bass guitar). Convened for The Rolling Stones' TV special The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus in 1968. This was the first time that Lennon had performed in public without the other Beatles and his first live performance since The Beatles last concert in 1966. And it is wicked, all the mean desperation of the tune exorcised.
No celebration of Lennon would be complete without Imagine," offered in the live version from his famous Madison Square Garden concert below, and you can check out the original clip from 1971 here and a fab live acoustic version here.
Arguably one of The Beatles' finest late period singles, this is one of the last great collaborations between John and Paul.
Spacey really nails this one, and the intro is something one senses John would have dug, too.
One of the songs Lennon struggled most to capture on tape, Working Class Hero" remains one of the most striking post-Beatles songs by any of the Fab Four.
Lennon could be VERY playful at times, something Joan accentuates nicely in this live cover.
For all the political and psychological mojo Lennon mustered it should never be forgotten that the man had a way with a ditty.
We wrap with a standout from Lennon's final album produced and released before his death, Double Fantasy.