John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Perhaps the natural starting point when speaking of John Lennon is his well-documented time with the Beatles, one of the most influential bands in rock 'n' roll history. But while most music fans know the exploits, successes, and impact the Beatles had during the 1960s, it is John Lennon's post-Beatles solo career that gets relatively overlooked and yet is an equally significant part of his legacy. Unsatisfied with simply being a rock star, John Lennon's life and career after his time with the Beatles was marked by everything from solo records, to television talk show appearances, to social activism—all of which he collaborated with his wife Yoko Ono in some capacity. The early '70s saw John Lennon release two well received albums, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, the title track of which was named the third all-time best song by Rolling Stone magazine.

Lennon and Ono moved to the US in 1971, but were repeatedly threatened with deportation by the Nixon administration. According to officials, it was Lennon's marijuana conviction that garnered these threats, but Lennon believed the real reason was his outspoken stance against the unpopular Vietnam War. This belief was not simply paranoia as documents later proved Lennon correct. After Nixon resigned, Lennon was granted permanent residency in the US in 1976.

With songs like "Give Peace a Chance" and "Imagine," Lennon's socially conscious perspective and message of peace were at the forefront of his public image, an image he cultivated and maintained with a variety of sometimes insightful, sometimes ridiculous publicity stunts that soon took precedence over his musical output, culminating in his infamous "lost weekend," which also marked his separation from Ono in the fall of 1973.

In the end, Lennon reunited with Ono, and she soon gave birth to their only child, Sean. During the mid-'70s, John Lennon cleaned up and took a break from both music and his public image to concentrate on his family. It was not until 1980 that Lennon launched a comeback of sorts with the release of Double Fantasy, an album recorded with Yoko Ono highly focused on their love. With a sense of stability in his life, an emphasis on family, and a successful new album, Lennon's life was again headed in a positive and fulfilling direction. Sadly, this upswing was tragically cut short when Lennon was assassinated in 1980 outside his apartment building in New York.

Controversial to some, a genius to others, and beloved by millions, John Lennon was not one to shy away from taking a stand, be it musically or politically. Taken too soon, Lennon and his music remain a touchstone for fans and musicians alike.

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