John Lennon

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If John Lennon had only been one of the four members of the Beatles, his artistic immortality would already have been assured. The so-called 'smart Beatle,' he brought a penetrating intelligence and a stinging wit both to the band’s music and its self-presentation. But in such songs as 'Strawberry Fields Forever', 'Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)', 'Rain' and 'In My Life', he also marshaled gorgeous melodies to evoke a sophisticated, dreamlike world-weariness well beyond his years. Such work suggested not merely a profound musical and literary sensibility – a genius, in short — but a vision of life that was simultaneously reflective, utopian and poignantly realistic.

But it was only after his marriage to artist Yoko Ono in 1969 that the figure the world now recognizes as 'John Lennon' truly came into being. Whether he was engaging in social activism - giving long, passionate interviews that once again broadened the nature of public discourse for artists, defining a new life as a self-described 'househusband' or writing and recording songs, Lennon came to view his life as a work of art in which every act shimmered with potential meaning for the world at large.

Awards: 21 Grammys, 21 NME Awards, 15 Ivor Novellos, 5 Brits, 1 Oscar.