As half of The Beatles
, John Lennon and Paul McCartney
were one of the most successful songwriting teams of the 20th century. 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 and co-wrote nearly all of their hits songs, 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 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.