A colorful potrait of John Lennon in watercolor.

Watercolor portrait of John Lennon.

JohnLennon1-28-16_WMWhat can be said about John Lennon that hasn’t already been  said? As a co-founder of one of the most influential bands in music history, his importance cannot be overstated. The Beatles have (as of this writing) sold 1.6 billion records (singles)  in the U.S, and over 600 million albums worldwide. John wrote 26 of their number one hits. Let that sink in for a moment. 26 number one hits. Countless artists have made entire careers out of literally one tenth as many number one hits, having not written ANY of them. 

To break up a band as popular as the Beatles were seems preposterous in the current climate of the perpetual, repeating ‘farewell’ tour. However, after the Beatles went their separate ways, they never re-formed. Never. Regardless of the amount of money or adulation that would have been heaped upon them, John and Paul never performed together again. 

John’s solo career was so unlike any legitimate pop star, it seems like pure fantasy. Writing, recording, and performing songs of conscience,  brimming with socially-minded content,  was a normal occurrence for John. Some of those songs (Happy Xmas and Imagine) became remarkably popular, and still are today. 

His retirement from the music industry was stunning, as was his amazing return a few years later. From 1975 until 1980, John took time to enjoy his family, and be a full-time parent to his newly-born son Sean. At the time, John’s first son Julian was being raised by his mother in England. 

His return to the world of popular music was widely applauded by his fans in 1980. The album Double Fantasy contained the singles Starting Over and Watching the Wheels. My personal favorite is the adorable “Beautiful Boy”. Of course, having had a son of my own may have something to do with that.

His untimely demise in December of 1980 brought home a horrific reality to millions of fans and admirers worldwide. We were all reminded of how frail life is, and how delicate each of us, no matter how gifted or influential, are. 

The posthumous release of “Milk and Honey” in 1984 contained twelve more songs that had been recorded during the Double Fantasy sessions. Among them is one of my favorites, “Nobody Told Me”.

John Lennon remains one of the most gifted, talented, and influential figures in modern music. As I painted this I listened to John’s solos work, as well as Elton John’s poignant “Empty Garden”,   released after his friend’s passing.