The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

back to profile

Jann Wenner on John Lennon

"Our last inductee this evening is John Lennon.  Probably there is no single figure more important in the history of rock and roll than John Lennon.  He didn't invent it, nor did he embody it in that towering way that Elvis or Chuck did, but he did more than anyone else to move it forward and give it a conscience.  As a Beatle, he helped shape the agenda of the '60s, socially, politically, no less than musically.  As a solo artist, John made music that disturbed, and soothed, and provoked, and saw community.  As a human being, he was an exemplar of honesty.  His was not an untroubled life; but he never dishonored his art, he never glossed over his pain, nor did he ever temper a strongly held belief.  His impact remains universal, and his impact is undiminished.  Many of his post-Beatle compositions, "Give Peace a Chance," "Instant Karma," "Imagine," have rightly become international rock and roll anthems.  They're born of tough-minded realism, they've got cosmic epiphany, and a hard-won idealism.  John found love and surrendered to it when he met Yoko Ono.  Their relationship endured challenges from within and without, and they became one of the most touching and mythical of 20th-Century romances.  They were gallant in doing what were in effect performance art pieces, records, bed-ins, bag-ins, happenings, billboards that read "War is over if you want it," as they went to spread their message of peace.  In the end, although John was a complicated man, he chose to uncomplicate his art, to figure out his life, and in the process, he merged the two.  It broke our hearts the day he died.  He touched and enriched my life very deeply, personally, professionally, and spiritually.  And for all he did for the world of music and the world we live in, we're all forever in your debt, John Lennon."