On Dec. 8, 1980, John Lennon, a man whose music often spoke of love and peace, fell victim to an killer’s bullet outside of his New York City apartment building. Weeks earlier, Lennon had celebrated his 40th birthday.
Thirty years later, the music world still feels the influence — and the loss — of a musician who came to prominence as a member of the Beatles. To commemorate the anniversary of his death, here’s a look back at Lennon’s career with the “Fab Four”:
March 1957: John Lennon forms the Quarrymen
Lennon formed a musical group called the Quarrymen, named after Quarry Bank High School for Boys, which he attended. By 1958, future Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison had joined the Quarrymen.
August 1960: After several names changes, the Beatles are born
In order to include “beat” in their name, Lennon and new band member Stuart Sutcliffe changed the group’s name to the Beatals. The name morphed into the Silver Beats and Silver Beetles before the group permanently settled on the Beatles in August 1960.
Nov. 9, 1961: Brian Epstein sees the Beatles perform at the Cavern
Brian Epstein owned the N.E.M.S record store down the street from the Cavern, a local Liverpool music club. At lunchtime on Nov. 9, 1961, Epstein, who followed the Liverpool music scene, saw his first Beatles performance.
Seeing the potential in the group, Epstein became their manager after a meeting with Lennon and the group on Dec. 10, 1961. Epstein made some changes in the Beatles, including a switch from leather pants to matching tailored suits.
Jan. 1, 1962: The Beatles ‘fail’ their audition at Decca Records
An aggressive manager, Epstein arranged a recording session at Decca Studios in West London on New Year’s Day. The group at this time featured Lennon, McCartney and Harrison plus drummer Pete Best.
Now considered a recording of extreme historical significance, “The Decca Tapes ” captured the insecurities and nervousness of the group. Decca passed up the group due to their lack of polish.
Mixed in with a group of cover songs are three Lennon-McCartney originals: “Like Dreamers Do,” “Hello Little Girl” and “Love of the Loved.”
Aug. 16, 1962: Pete Best dismissed from the Beatles
After serving as the group’s drummer for two years, Best was dismissed by the Beatles in 1962 and replaced by Ringo Starr. Different theories, from professional jealousy to questions about Best’s talent, were offered as reasons for his dismissal.
In a 2009 interview with “Spinner” magazine, Best has fond recollections of Lennon, calling him “a romantic, a family man, very tender, very loving. “
February 1964: ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ opens the floodgates of the British Invasion
In 1963, Lennon and McCartney composed “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” the song that made the Beatles a household name in the United States.
The song was No. 1 on the Billboard Chart when the Beatles made their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964.
July 6, 1964: The Beatles star in “A Hard Day’s Night”
Predating the birth of MTV, the Beatles became one of the first video bands in 1964 with the UK release of “A Hard Day’s Night.”
March 4, 1966: John Lennon’s ‘more popular than Jesus’ quote published
In a 1966 interview with Maureen Cleave of “The London Evening Standard,” Lennon gave a quote that caused a ripple effect across the pond to the United States
“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first — rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity,” Lennon said to Cleave. “Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”
On July 29, 1966, “Datebook,” an American teen magazine, reprinted the quote out of its original context. The result was a public backlash against Lennon and the Beatles. Some groups even burned stacks of Beatles albums.
June 1967: ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ is released
Arguably one of the most influential albums of the 1960s, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” featured dozens of famous faces on the cover.
“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” one of Lennon’s notable contributions to the album, was inspired by a drawing created by Lennon’s son Julian. Some fans thought the song’s title was a reference to LSD and the drug culture.
Sept. 26, 1969: ‘Abbey Road’ released
Named in honor of the legendary studio where the album was recorded, “Abbey Road” is the last album recorded by the Beatles. The white suit worn by John Lennon on the album cover went up for auction in 2005.
April 10, 1970: The Beatles break up
Although the writing was on the wall for some time, Paul McCartney made the breakup official after he announced he was leaving the Beatles. Director Ron Howard includes a reference to the break-up of the Beatles in the 1995 film “Apollo 13.”
April 24, 1976: A “Saturday Night Live” reunion offer
As “Saturday Night Live” was closing out its edgy first season, produce Lorne Michaels made an on-air appeal to the Beatles, offering them $3,000 to reunite on the late-night variety show. Michaels later upped the ante to $3,200.
Paul McCartney later said that while watching “SNL,” he and Lennon actually thought about going down to the NBC Studios.