There are places we remember, all our lives, though some have changed. Seventy years after the birth of John Winston Ono Lennon, the memories and music live on.
We remember where we were that night those lads from Liverpool leapt a wild octave — “I wanna hold your hand!” — before a screaming audience on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” And simply changed the world.
Or the days we carefully placed each vinyl gift from the Fab Four on a turntable, from the irresistible “Meet the Beatles” through the adventurous “Rubber Soul,” from the psychedelia of “Sgt. Pepper” to the swan song of “Let It Be.” Or where we first heard the songs of John Lennon, solo artist: the quiet ferocity of “Working Class Hero,” the tough idealism of “Imagine” or the buoyant hope of “Starting Over,” and so many more.
And we grieve still for that December night in 1980 when a gunman struck on a street in New York, taking Lennon’s life. But not his legacy.
Now a younger generation can say, “There are places we remember,” linking moments in their lives with the music Lennon created, whether with the Beatles or as a solo artist. Younger fans have discovered the hits of Lennon & McCartney through the film “Across the Universe,” through the Cirque du Soleil show “Love” or through the interactive joy of playing “The Beatles: Rock Band” videogame.
And they’ve taken to the streets to protest wars from Iraq to Afghanistan, chanting Lennon’s still-all-too-relevant demand, “Give Peace a Chance.” Seventy years after the birth of John Lennon, Billboard celebrates his legacy by spotlighting events around the world.
REMEMBERING JOHN: BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION EVENTS
Just as the songs of John Lennon won the hearts of fans worldwide during his lifetime, an array of events and projects are marking the 70th anniversary of Lennon’s birthday on Oct. 9. Here are just a few.
Oct. 1-2: “We Are Plastic Ono Band” Tribute Shows in L.A.
Yoko Ono headlined “We Are Plastic Ono Band” tribute shows Oct. 1-2 at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, sharing the eclectic bill with Lady Gaga, Iggy Pop, the RZA, Perry Farrell, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, and others.
Oct. 3: “John Lennon, Songwriter” Exhibit Opening in L.A.
Ono will discuss Lennon’s life and legacy in a program at the Clive Davis Theater at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. The event will open the museum’s exhibit “John Lennon, Songwriter,” focusing on his roots, influences and his songwriting work, both with the Beatles and as a solo artist.
Oct. 9: Lennon Ono Grant for Peace Awards in Iceland
Ono will be in Iceland to present the biannual Lennon Ono Grant for Peace Award to “Gasland” director Josh Fox, nature/culture writer Michael Pollan, author/human rights activist Alice Walker and human rights/safety activist Barbara Kowalcyk. She’ll attend the annual lighting of the Peace Tower and perform with Sean Ono Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band in Reykjavik.
Oct. 9: “Peace and Harmony” Lennon Monument Reveal in Liverpool
Lennon’s hometown of Liverpool will host his older son, Julian Lennon, and his first wife, Cynthia Lennon, at the unveiling of an 18-foot-high monument titled Peace and Harmony in the city center. The work was commissioned by Global Peace Initiative, an arts organization based in the United States.
Oct. 9: Screening of PBS Documentary “LENNONYC” in NYC
PBS will screen a new American Masters documentary “LENNONYC,” which focuses on Lennon’s life in New York during the 1970s, on Lennon’s birthday, Oct. 9, in New York’s Central Park at 7 p.m. The film, which features unreleased recordings and home movies, will air nationally on PBS on Nov. 22 at 9 p.m. “LENNONYC” premiered at the New York Film Festival on Sept. 25 and was promoted with a new PBS podcast series.
Nov. 2: “Imagine There’s No Hunger” Concert in Hollywood
Hard Rock Cafe International will present “Imagine There’s No Hunger: Celebrating the Songs of John Lennon,” a concert at the Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood to benefit the Grammy Museum and WHY Hunger, which fights hunger and poverty worldwide.
Nov. 12: All-Star Lennon Tribute Concert in NYC
An all-star tribute concert to honor Lennon is planned for Nov. 12 at the Beacon Theater in New York to benefit the Playing for Change Foundation, with a lineup that will include Jackson Browne, Patti Smith, Cyndi Lauper, Aimee Mann, Shelby Lynne, and others.
Dec. 9: “Lennon Remembered” Tribute Concert in Liverpool
Liverpool’s Echo Arena will host a tribute concert, “Lennon Remembered,” on Dec. 9 to benefit three charities: the Alder Hey “Imagine” Appeal, local radio station Radio City’s Cash for Kids promotion and the Mathew Street Festival. The lineup for the concert hasn’t yet been announced.
The Montblanc John Lennon Edition Writing Instrument, a series of three luxury pens to honor the artist’s creativity and style, was unveiled Sept 12 in New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Mexico City and Berlin. Proceeds from sales will benefit cultural and educational groups. At the New York event, filmmaker Sam Taylor-Wood presented “Nowhere Boy,” his film about Lennon’s early years.
The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus will be present at the Plastic Ono Band concerts and Grammy Museum events in Los Angeles. The bus offers workshops to students on state-of-the-art audio and video equipment. It began as an offshoot of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. (In August, the tour bus created a scholarship with the SAE Institute in Nashville named for SAE student Dan Brown, who died in Nashville’s spring floods.)