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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 10/ 8/2010

John Lennon at 70: His pop culture legacy

By Sarah Anne Hughes

Posted by Sarah Anne Hughes

John Lennon, the revolutionary musician and member of arguably the greatest band of all time, the Beatles, would have been 70 years old this Saturday had he not been shot to death in 1980 by a deranged fan outside of his New York apartment building. Lennon was 40 years old.

Since Lennon's death, his legacy has become bigger than the man himself was. For better or worse, Lennon's music, creative vision and his message of peace have been kept alive through songs, film, TV and products. When I was about 10, my mother, a Beatles superfan and memorabilia collector, took me to exotic New Jersey to experience Beatlemania firsthand. In a hotel convention room I saw table after table of Beatles products, Beatles impersonators, Beatles karaoke. You name it, they Beatle'd it. Today, that interest in Lennon and his fellow Liverpudlians is still going strong in the pop culture world.

Related:
BlogPost: Imagine John Lennon as a Google doodle

While Lennon's music catalogue is vast and varied, his best-known song is probably “Imagine,” an iconic piece about peace. In very recent pop culture memory, the song got the "Glee" treatment. Two years ago, it was covered on "American Idol" by David Archuleta. (With a little help from Kurt's cover of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" those talented [see: obnoxious] "Glee" kids beat the Beatles' Billboard Hot 100 record.) The current queen of pop music, Lady Gaga, sang "Imagine" at a 2009 Human Rights Campaign dinner in D.C. and recently performed with Yoko Ono at a tribute concert. Gaga also hangs out with now 34-year-old Sean Lennon and made "real" Lennon fans lose their minds when she was photographed playing Lennon's white piano. Today, the song is being used in a Google doodle.

In addition to documentaries about the late musician, there have been several biopics, including most recently “Nowhere Boy," a film about Lennon's childhood in Liverpool, England:

Lennon's song have been used in many soundtracks including "Across the Universe," "I Am Sam" and "Rushmore."

As far as products go, there are scads of options for the Lennon-loving consumer. In my college days, I saw a fair share of "Give Peace a Chance" posters. These and other products, including "bed-in for peace" T-shirts, can be purchased at the official Lennon store or a number of other places. Some Lennon memorabilia is for sale through the Gotta Have It! Rock & Pop Culture Auction, which made headlines when the FBI pulled Lennon's application for U.S. residency. It would be remiss not to mention "The Beatles: Rock Band," an interactive game that has introduced a new generation to Lennon and the Beatles, albeit their digitized versions.

At the end of the day, nothing beats Lennon's music. So tomorrow (and really every day), listen to and celebrate the late John Lennon. I'll get you started with my favorite Lennon tribute, Sir Paul McCartney's "Here Today."

By Sarah Anne Hughes  | October 8, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities  
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Comments

John's death hit me like the death of a very close friend. Making it worse is the fact that he was shot on my birthday so I think about it every Dec 8th. I still miss his views and influence on culture, politics etc. What a pointless waste of a very talented life.

Posted by: 1observer | October 8, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

It's really strange to think that this young guy could be 70 today. It is also very strange to think that millions of young guys died when they were so young. remember that one hundred years ago we were in the year 1910 ! Four more years an a terrible war is going to erase from the surface of the earth millions of young lives ! Fourty ? They didn't even reached twenty five or thirty ! REMEMBER ! IMAGINE ! And the dirty show is going on ! Iraq ! Afghanistan !

Posted by: dictionaricDOTcom | October 8, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Still miss the Walrus.
Here's one of my favorites, "Working Class Hero"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njG7p6CSbCU

Posted by: talitha1 | October 8, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

All of society missed out on so much with his death. I often wonder, what would John be doing now. Especially with the wars we are in now. And he would have been creating some beautiful art or music I am sure. His death is one that will affect us for ever. Peace and Love to you John.

Posted by: jtsw | October 8, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Time is an endless stream. It is only when confronted by markers, do we realize the time gone by. Lennon's death seems like yesterday, I can still feel the moment I heard. It was like a dream gone bad. The river of time flows on and now, thirty years later, we are confronted with not only the void, but our own aging. John Lennon will always be the young, handsome guy with the quick wit and intense intelligence. What the world has missed will never be known, but we are all a little worse off for never knowing what else was coming from that beautiful, creative brain of his. I still tear up whenever I hear his voice in song or in an old interview. Happy Birthday, John.

Posted by: bruce19 | October 8, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I always think of John Lennon at Christmas, because it is not Christmas to me until I hear "Happy Xmas(War is Over)".

Posted by: WickedRose | October 8, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

In the spirit of thread-weaving in the wake of Tony Curtis' recent death, I offer this excerpt from "John Lennon and Yoko Ono's deportation battle":

"Hollywood people were mostly missing from the list of supporters, with one notable exception: Tony Curtis, who had starred in more than 60 films by 1972, including 'Some Like It Hot' with Marilyn Monroe and 'The Defiant Ones,' in which he played a racist convict chained to Sidney Poitier. His letter was brief: 'The presence of John Lennon and Yoko Ono is of cultural advantage to our country.'"

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-wiener-john-lennon-deportation-20101008,0,5374920.story

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | October 8, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

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