John Winston Ono Lennon (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 achieved worldwide fame during the 1960s. In 1969, Lennon started the Plastic Ono Band with his second wife, Yoko Ono, and he continued to pursue a solo career following the Beatles' break-up in April 1970.
Born John Winston Lennon in Liverpool, 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. Further to his Plastic Ono Band singles such as "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 moving to New York City in 1971, he never returned to England again. In 1975, he disengaged himself from the music business to raise his infant son Sean, but re-emerged with Ono in 1980 with the album Double Fantasy. He was shot and killed in the archway of his Manhattan apartment building three weeks after the album's release.
Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. He was controversial through his political and peace activism. From 1971 onwards, his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a three-year 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 had 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.