The 30 years that have passed since John Lennon's death have done little to diminish him as one of the most respected musicians of the 20th century. As a member of one of the most successful and influential songwriting teams of all time, he changed the face of popular music. Lennon was a mad experimenter, a avant-garde visionary who not only responded to the tenor of his day, but set it. He was also a master of wide appeal, able to temper his unorthodox impulses with approachability. Many of his innovations are now essential components of pop music. Here are six of his most influential songs:
The Beatles' sixth UK single was one of the truest examples of a Lennon/McCartney composition. Lennon recalled that he and Paul McCartney wrote the song "one on one, eyeball to eyeball" in a "small, rather stuffy music room" in 1963. Upon its release, the infectious single, backed by the B-side 'This Boy,' knocked another Beatles record 'She Loves You' from the top UK chart position, the first such instance of a band taking the No. 1 spot from itself in British history. Perhaps more importantly, the single was the first Beatles record to top the American Billboard Hot 100, ushering in the British invasion era and opening the doors for other acts like The Animals, Manfred Mann, Donovan, Herman's Hermits, and The Rolling Stones.
Though dismissed by some as a fad song – the song lost the Grammy Award for Record of the Year to Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz's 'The Girl from Ipanema' – the song has been cited by Rolling Stone, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Recording Industry Association of America and others as one of the most important songs in Rock history.
'I Want to Hold Your Hand' on the Ed Sullivan Show, 1964:
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