On December 8th, 1980, at 40 years of age, John Lennon was shot and killed outside his Upper West Side apartment building in New York City.
Lennon is most well known for his position as a leading member of the Beatles, a band that was born in 1960s Britain and became one of the most popular musical groups of the twentieth century. Lennon and a fellow band member, Paul McCartney, made up the singer-songwriter team that lead the Beatles to huge success. The vigils, demonstrations, and commemorations held all over the world on the day of Lennon’s death in 1980 and every year thereafter act as a tribute to the enormous and widespread impact Lennon and the Beatles had and continue to have.
Originally influenced by American Rock & Roll, the Beatles initially took Britain by storm in 1963 with the release of their first single, and then moved their music and what some people call their “cultural revolution” across the Atlantic Ocean to America in 1964.
The Beatles arrived in America on February 7, 1964. Two days later they made their now famous first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, in which 73 million U.S. television viewers tuned in – about 40% of the U.S. population at the time. At one point in April 1964, the five best-selling singles in the U.S. were all Beatles songs. The Beatles had made a phenomenally quick and widespread impact on the UK, America, and the rest of the world. After a short return trip to the UK, the Beatles began their world tour, which took them to other parts of Europe, some countries in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. The Beatles themselves traveled far and wide to perform their wildly popular songs, but their music and influence traveled even farther.
Their popularity and success provoked what was called a British Invasion of Beatles-like music in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. The Beatles’ introduction to the U.S. opened a door for other British Rock & Roll artists to take the leap across the Atlantic and spread their music all over America. British Invasion itself is an interesting example for a lesson in musical geography. Born in the UK in the early 60s, it combined American Rock & Roll style with local traditions such as dancehall, pop, and Celtic folk. Learn more about British Invasion.
The Beatles’ music infiltrated countries all over the world in the 1960s, and continues to be a prominent cultural influence to this day.