|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point|
Tuesday, 12 December, 2000, 15:54 GMT
Why is John Lennon still so popular?
Memorials and vigils were being held all over the world to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.
The former Beatle was shot dead outside his New York apartment on 8 December 1980 by an obsessed fan. The killing shocked millions of his fans around the world.
His music - both as a soloist and his recordings with the Beatles - remain popular. The "Greatest Hits" album of the Beatles, released last month, has already sold more than 12 million copies.
Do you remember the day of the shooting? What does John Lennon mean to pop music today? Does his popularity go beyond his musical achievements?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
"Imagine no possessions..." A bit rich coming from Lennon, considering he was shot outside his own New York mansion.
Lennon's ability to speak universally ensure that the 40th anniversary of his death will be as remembered as his 20th - even if the reasons for doing so will be as diverse as his fans.
Seeing the list of the current drivel which are apparently the 10 most popular songs in 2000 we need music from people like John Lennon, and the Beatles, more than ever. The fact that their 1's LP is still number 1 ahead of those dreadful dirges by Westlife speaks volumes for music quality. RIP John.
I am cynical about this John Lennon phenomenon. Though his music with the Beatles and some of his solo work remain unsurpassable, his popularity, like so many other artists who have died young, has indefinitely increased by after his death. Other artists such as Bob Dylan, have produced music that is often equal to, and sometimes far better than Lennon's, yet do not receive the same amount of recognition.
The guy was a musical genius! And though he didn't quite manage to live his message of peace and love, it was still his driving ambition that we all put aside our hostilities and stand together as one. The Beatles were, are, and always will be the standard for excellence and achievement.
John Lennon had the power to touch people - as simple, yet as magical as that. For the few who don't feel it, all you need do is look around at the evidence of the many who do. If you seek John Lennon's monument, LISTEN around you.
I, like so many am still devastated by his loss, but my life is still enriched by what he did. It's not overlooking his flaws, it's not idle celebrity-worship - it is a real achievement of John Lennon for which so many of us are so grateful.
Philip Lines, US (via UK)
I was only two when Lennon was killed, so I like to think of myself as a person not influenced by the 60s hysteria. However, just play the Sgt. Pepper album and you will realise how much today's music is shaped by the Beatles. In addition to this, I think it is brilliant how Lennon used his fame in a constructive manner, while still maintaining his humour (going on strike in his bed). So, its because of this that I say to people who only have bad words for him, "Go and play I'm just a jealous guy".
PD, Sydney, Australia
Read some bios by those who knew John for years, especially Cynthia Lennon's "A Twist of Lennon". We often get confused and worship those who are good at something rather than those who are good.
I've been attending Beatle-fests in the US since 1978 and have always been amazed at the number of teenagers attending. At first, it was kids who weren't yet born when the Beatles broke up. Now, there are kids who were born well after Lennon was killed. My conclusion is that it's just damn good music. It spans the generations. It's timeless.
He wrote some good songs, sang some good songs too. When he died it was just another day. His death was not particularly newsworthy, after all he was only a very rich singer/song writer.
Lennon was the driving force in a group that wrote and played songs that are becoming timeless. I remember being shocked by the shooting, and to this day maintain that his talent is on a par with the genius of Mozart and Beethoven. It's far better to worship the loss of true genius and talent than those who achieved greatness simply by birth.
Simon C, UK
A good artist who fell in the wrong hands. After he met Yoko, he simply slumped.
John Lennon was a rock star, an idol, a myth; but also human, pimples and all. He was flawed, as all of us are, but his vision was clear and his passion was truth.
A gifted man who had the rare ability to convey strong words, softly spoken.
Pat Phillips, Canada
John lost his mother when he was very young which left him emotionally vulnerable and it was this vulnerability which made his songs and personality great. But it was also his downfall because he needed a mother figure and found it in Yoko. His blind faith in her begat projects such as 'Sometime in NYC', his worst work.
He had a chip on his shoulder and a very rare ability to express it sincerely.
John Lennon wrote two songs - Imagine and Happy Christmas - that have become international anthems of peace and solidarity. Those achievements alone are enough to explain his enduring popularity. He was a musician, yes, but one who struck a chord in the soul of humanity.
Ivan, Denton, TX, USA
I believe John is very popular even today not because his music is trendy but because people, especially the younger ones, still identify and connect with his theme of global peace, equality and non-violence. These are values which are not just valid for the Woodstock generation but for Generation X as well.
John Lennon, along with the other three Beatles, was a hero for a generation. They created and defined an era. Being what they were at that time, they had a tremendous and lasting influence on our society. The Beatles and John Lennon therefore pass the test of time.
I was 6 months old when John Lennon was shot. However, being in Strawberry Fields in Central Park today and seeing everyone together, singing and dancing for a man who has been dead for 20 years is exactly why I respect and admire him. There is no artist alive today who can say they have had the same impact on the world that he and the other Beatles had and he will never be forgotton for that. He will be remembered by people like me, long after the baby boomers are gone.
John B, UK
I was 13 when I saw the Beatles at Shea Stadium in New York. Nothing I had seen prior to or since has equalled the unbridled passion (not to mention the decibel level of the screaming fans). John may have only been a singer, a poet and a political activist and MAY, to some, be unworthy of all the all the hoopla. However, to those of us who grew up in the 60's as teenagers, John and the Beatles, through their songs, made us think, made us dream and made us laugh and cry. The first time I heard the words to Imagine, a plea for global peace and tranquillity, I remember tears running down my cheeks. The night he was killed, I was putting up my Christmas tree with my then 2-year-old son. Once again the tears streamed down my cheeks.
Was Beethoven just a musician? Was Michael Angelo just a sculptor/ painter? Timeless artists have a way of touching our emotions and John Lennon did just that. We all have personal problems, but that doesn't take away his enduring contribution to music and culture. "Just Give Me Some Truth", "Jealous Guy", "Imagine", "Cold Turkey", "Strange Days". These relevant and timeless songs are why his legacy has endured. He touched us deeply and emotionally. Long live the spirit of John Lennon.
I do not know why I like his songs, his face. His word, his melodies are still relevant today. When I hear the name of John Lennon I always remember his songs and his image.
I have just returned from my first trip to the UK and of course Liverpool, home of my heroes the Beatles. It was a very emotional moment for me especially as John Lennon was my favourite Beatle. I think of him as a very gentle, witty, sarcastic but most of all musical genius. I just think it wasn't fair that we were robbed of this man's talent especially in such a senseless way. Lennon will live on forever.
Bruno Matos, Brazil
John Lennon was just a tough charming guy, very fragile because of lack of love, and very strong thanks to his pain and sorrow.
A real poet as well, able to open us to new worlds and beautiful images through his writing talent.
I was a young boy in Montauban, south of France when it happened, and it really broke my heart.
So long, John!
If humanity has a memory then it's history. If history should remember something then it's that day. If that day is remembered, then Lennon is not dead, for his music lives through the minds of millions, inspiring more artists than it ever did before.
Marianne Eriksen, Denmark
Atif Rahman, Pakistan
How many other people can lay claim to such a massive influence on popular thinking? He woke up the people to the ridiculousness of violence, hypocrisy and pomposity. We are still learning but, thanks to Lennon, we have advanced a little.
You get the feeling listening to his music that he really and truly believed the things he said. And like Monroe and Kennedy he was killed still young and with promise. It is that promise that lingers on and on in the minds of the people. We mourn them just as the Romans mourned the death of Marcellus.
Just read the lyrics of such songs as "Nowhere Man", "Strawberry Fields", "Tomorrow Never Knows", "Give Peace a Chance", "Imagine" and so many others and you will understand why he is so popular. All his lyrics are incredible and very much relevant for today's youth. I was born in 1980 and I enjoy his work more than any other artist's. He's the best artist of the century.
Dave Howe, UK
What is the world without heroes? Thank you, John, for your everlasting inspiration.
I think Lennon would laugh his socks off at the amount of attention he was receiving 20 years after his sudden death. After all the man was definitely a highly talented man who never saw the problem in making a lot of money but as he would say "He ain't no Saint ".
James Newman, UK
Who is this John Lennon people are talking about?
Is he the one who's wife, Yoko Ono, my friend, a Beatles die-hard, hates so much?
Who is this Lennon character? A person of love, peace and power to the people?
A man who showed how absurd the music charts could get?
Is he the one?
John was the GURU of music and when somebody of that stature is gone, there is a void in the world which will take a long time to fill.
S.W. Jones, US
The greatest musician of the modern age. Simple as that.
I remember waking up on a horrible December morning much like this one, and Dave Lee Travis was playing Beatles records without telling anyone what had happened.
Can you imagine what would have happened if John wasn't dead?
Live Aid, 1985, the last act..."Ladies and Gentlemen ...back together...THE BEATLES!"....
I remember feeling silly & self-conscious, placing a flower into a makeshift shrine in front of the Dakota; I remember the grave gentleness of the policemen (so uncharacteristic of tough NYC cops), guarding the sidewalk and ensuring that each mourner had a moment to pay his respects. But a great man had passed and, to paraphrase Arthur Miller, attention had to be paid. It must still be paid.
On Dec.8,1980 I was at home here in California. The bulletin came on TV that Monday night and I gasped in pain, my heart stopped. SHOT? JOHN? HE CAN'T
BE...GONE. I spent the next days travelling to NYC on my own pilgrimage, to the scene of the crime, to the 10 minutes of silence in Central Park that following Sunday.
400,000 of us in the park. The bandstand was decorated with XMAS greens in garland and the portrait of JOHN in his NY Tshirt. 10 minutes of silence, in NYC! IMAGINE IT! It was HOLY.
John Lennon still seems to be popular because the Beatles are still popular. They created what I think was the most influential music of the second half of the 20th century. And I think Lennon's solo work also signified a lot of hopefulness for people.
His death gave baby boomers a sense of mortality. And the violence of it was in contrast to the philosophy he publicly preached: peace.
He was an unstable hippy with a fabulous outlook on life and how it should be.
He will be remembered long after his record titles.
Unlike many of today's modern artists, this man was a musical genius. The partnership he shared with Paul McCartney is arguably the greatest during the last century, and one which none of today's modern artists are even close to.
I don't understand why John Lennon, or
any other entertainer for that matter, is
so popular. But, for whatever reason, we
commoners find it necessary to invest so
much personal worth in celebrities we
like. My god, look at the Elvis cult. Now, don't
get me wrong, entertainers' abilities to distract us
from our mundane lives is no small
accomplishment. But, one should hope we'd
be better able to put into proper proportion
what entertainers do and don't do for us.
Lennon was not just a musician, but a truly gifted artist. His words and melodies are still relevant today. Technically, McCartney was a better musician, but Lennon had that special something that only few have - a divine spark, one might say. This is why he was different from most other musicians, and why he still means so much to people all over the world. Yeah.
Lennon went from 'From Me To You' to 'Tomorrow Never Knows' in three years. Very few singers can communicate a song as well as he could. His voice is still clear and strong.
Power to the people.
Linda Thomas, British (living in US)
Lennon was a musical, artistic and literary genius. Look beyond the long hair, the arrogance, the acid and Yoko. I suggest reading "A Spaniard in the Works!" The man lives on.
He is so popular because we constantly worship fame. It's sad, really. All he did was sing - some people devise cures for diseases and receive no recognition.
Gareth Sinclair, Wales
Haunting melodies, great lyrics and beautifully sung.
That's why his music is still popular.
Is it already 20 years since his death? I was 13 when he died and I remember the shock around the world. My school dedicated an assembly to him. I still have the original newspaper of the day reporting his death and a Newsweek magazine. When I visited the Dakota building a few years ago I stood and looked at it and found it hard to believe John Lennon was dead. I think the senseless killing robbed the world of one of the most incredible people of the 20th century.
08 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Lennon fans gather... and imagine
06 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Julian Lennon reflects on John
03 Oct 00 | Entertainment
John Lennon's legacy
06 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Yoko's anniversary peace call
04 Dec 00 | Entertainment
'Last photo' of Lennon and McCartney for sale
09 Oct 00 | Entertainment
'Happy Birthday' Lennon
03 Oct 00 | Americas
Yoko Ono: My fears
03 Oct 00 | Americas
Lennon killer denied parole
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Other Talking Points:
Links to other Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy