John Winston Ono Lennon[a] MBE (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter, and peace activist who co-founded the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He and fellow member Paul McCartney formed a much-celebrated songwriting partnership. Along with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, the group would ascend to world-wide fame during the 1960s.
He was born as John Winston Lennon in Liverpool, where he became involved in the skiffle craze as a teenager. In 1957, he formed his first band, the Quarrymen, which evolved into the Beatles in 1960. Lennon began to record as a solo artist before the band's break-up in April 1970; two of those songs were "Give Peace a Chance" and "Instant Karma!" Lennon subsequently produced albums that included John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, and songs such as "Working Class Hero", "Imagine" and "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)". After he married Yoko Ono in 1969, he added "Ono" as one of his middle names. Lennon disengaged himself from the music business in 1975 to raise his infant son Sean, but re-emerged with Ono in 1980 with the album Double Fantasy. A lone gunman shot and killed Lennon in the archway of his Manhattan apartment building three weeks after the album was released.
Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. Controversial through his political and peace activism, he moved from London to Manhattan in 1971, where his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a lengthy attempt by the Nixon administration to deport him. Some of his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement and the larger counterculture.
By 2012, Lennon's solo album sales in the United States had exceeded 14 million units. He is responsible for 25 number-one singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart as a writer, co-writer, or performer. In 2002, Lennon was voted eighth in a BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Britons and in 2008, Rolling Stone ranked him the fifth-greatest singer of all time. In 1987, he was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Lennon was twice posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—first in 1988 as a member of the Beatles and again in 1994 as a solo artist.