John Lennon: Rebel Beatle

Lennon dared people to ‘Imagine’ a better world.

Flower bouquets are placed before a large portrait of John Lennon at the John Lennon Museum in Saitama city, suburban Tokyo, in 2006.
By + More

A letter sent in April 1972 by then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to H.R. Haldeman, chief of staff to former president Richard Nixon, indicates Nixon was personally interested in the investigation.

Pressure from the Nixon administration in 1972 nearly led to Lennon and Ono being deported. Lennon pled guilty in 1968 to a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession, which the immigration office said made him ineligible for permanent residency, so the two were ordered to leave the country.

Lennon and Ono fought the deportation order with the support of celebrities, legal teams and legions of fans until a court ruled in his favor in 1975, deciding that the British marijuana conviction did not meet American standards of justice.

"We have always found a place for those committed to the spirit of liberty and willing to help implement it," the court said in its 1975 opinion.

After the birth of his second son, Sean Lennon, John announced retirement to enjoy family time. Lennon started his emergence from retirement during the final month of his life, before being murdered near his New York City apartment by deranged fan Mark David Chapman. More than 30 years later, people still leave messages hoping for a world of peace and understanding at the “Imagine” mosaic in the Manhattan park dedicated in Lennon’s memory.

In his last interview, recorded by RKO Radio hours before he was shot, Lennon challenged a new generation of would-be-rebels to think differently.

“The thing the ‘60s did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had,” Lennon said. “It wasn't the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.”

Read More:

  • PHOTOS: The Beatles Arrive in America
  • The Washington Coliseum and the Beatles Get a Second Act
  • ARCHIVES: In 1964, U.S. News Dismissed Beatles As a Fad