John Lennon and Paul McCartney
were one of the most successful songwriting teams of the 20th century, as well as forming half of the superband The Beatles
. Together they wrote dozens of hit tunes, ranging from "Help!" and "Ticket to Ride" to "Penny Lane" and "Let It Be." John Lennon was first among equals in the band: he wrote or co-wrote nearly all of their hits, sang lead on many songs, and drove the band with his restless creativity. His romance with Yoko Ono
was a major influence on his post-Beatles career, and he collaborated with her on everything from the modern pop hymn "Imagine" to avant-garde noise and poetry. The Beatles broke up in 1970, and John Lennon followed up with a solo career marked by genius and eccentric recordings and public pleas for world peace. (The latter included his hit 1971 single, "Imagine," with lyrics like: "Imagine there's no countries / It isn't hard to do /Nothing to kill or die for / And no religion too.") After a reclusive five years as a family man, John Lennon released an album with Yoko in 1980, Double Fantasy
. As their new song "Just Like Starting Over" was reaching the top of the charts, Lennon was shot to death outside the Dakota building, his New York City home, by a schizophrenic fan named Mark David Chapman.