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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 December 2005, 08:16 GMT
Is Lennon still an icon to the young?
By Stephen Dowling
BBC News

What does John Lennon mean to the people of Merseyside, UK?

The Beatles may still be revered, but is John Lennon's music and message of peace resonating with young people today - 25 years after his death?

John Lennon was one of the most iconic men on the planet in the 1960s and 70s, revered by young people all over the globe.

His fiery wit and artistic vision was an inspiration to millions across the globe, as he provided a creative foil to Paul McCartney and forged an artistic and politically-active partnership with second wife Yoko Ono.

Lennon's death, shot by deranged fan Mark Chapman outside his Manhattan apartment building on 8 December 1980, caused a wave of mourning.

The Lennon legacy survived his death - buoyed by the posthumous re-release of his humanist anthem Imagine - and the continuing influence of The Beatles ensured Lennon's iconic position.

Massive influence

Even into the early 1990s, Lennon still enjoyed godhead status, especially during the Britpop boom in the UK. The Gallagher brothers of Oasis revered Lennon as a visionary songwriter and style icon.

But what about now?

In a music scene where reality TV stars such as Will Young and Girls Aloud are chart-toppers, where 50 Cent and the Sugababes hold sway, is Lennon still relevant?

When you look at Lennon, especially in the later years of his life, he was as famous for his campaigning as he was for his music
NME's Julian Marshall

Julian Marshall, news editor at music weekly NME, believes he is still a massive influence on music-loving teens and fledgling musicians.

"I think a huge amount of bands, regardless of what generation they are in, look back at the beginnings, at where rock 'n' roll started, and that means Elvis Presley and The Beatles.

"And for a lot of people, Lennon was the most important member of The Beatles."

Mr Marshall believes it is not just the music but Lennon's political bent that has also aged well.

After his marriage to Yoko Ono in 1969, Lennon and his second wife spent their honeymoon in a hotel room bed in Amsterdam to campaign for world peace. The search for peace became one of his overriding aims.

The Beatles
If you talk to anybody in a proper band now they will count Lennon as an influence - or at the very least as someone they respect
Q editor Paul Rees

"When you look at Lennon, especially in the later years of his life, he was as famous for his campaigning as he was for his music.

"This generation of musicians are angry about different issues, but they've carried on that aspect of his personality," he says.

"In the last few years we've seen it with things like the protest over the Iraq War by Damon Albarn and Massive Attack, and the Live8 and anti-poverty campaigns this year."

The BBC's Newsround website recently asked its readers if they had heard of Lennon, his music and his campaigning.

One reader, Amatis, posted the message: "The world needs more people like John Lennon. And sadly no-one nowadays even comes close to filling his shoes."

Paul Rees, the editor of rock magazine Q, also believes Lennon's influence still resonates with young people today.

"It's because he's one of the last of that generation of pop stars who stood up for what they believed in. That sort of rebellion people respect.

"Plus, with Lennon there's that tragic aspect," adds Mr Rees. "It's like he's been freeze-framed."

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