Imagine if… Lennon Lived

Abbey Road
Read Time: 3 minutes

In the History of Popular Music ( MUSA 266 ) class I am currently taking, this assignment was given to me. The assignment was to compare and contrast the Beatles career to that of the Rolling Stones. I was to pick which style of music I preferred, and which career I liked better and why. I am going to share with you, why I chose the Beatles.

According to Charlton, Katherine. Rock Music Styles: A History. e ed., vol. 7, McGraw-Hill Education, 2015., both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were inspired by Buddy Holly, but that’s is about where the musical influences end. Where the Beatles look and musical styling were more polished, the Rolling Stones were more rebellious. They were both part of the British Invasion that came to America. The Rolling Stones has a heavy blues and rhythm-and-blues sound ingrained into their foundation, sounding more like “Bo Diddly than Buddy Holly.”

The Rolling Stones have some incredible music I am a fan of. I do enjoy some good anthems occasionally. I am a huge fan of the blues, so you would think I would prefer them over the Beatles, but I do not. The Beatles began their career a lot differently than how they ended it. If they stayed the same clean-cut look and formula to their music, then I would have easily chosen The Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones ironically enough, became more rigid and stuck to their particular formula in the end, than the Beatles. The Beatles began off with a rather rigid beginning, and eventually broke free into more experimental eras of their career. I am a huge fan of this era of the Beatles. They took a lot of chances. I have a lot of respect for how the Rolling Stones are still going strong today, and who knows? Maybe if Lennon wasn’t shot, they could have continued to perform up until around 2001 when we lost George Harrison to lung cancer. We will never really know, because at that time, Lennon had some issues with Paul McCartney on the direction of the band. Lennon wound up leaving the Beatles to make music his wife, Yoko Ono. Together they had a son named Sean Lennon, who I am a fan of musically today. Maybe they would have worked out their differences and we could have still got more Beatles music as time went on. Sadly, it is just a thought. Even with his life taken too soon, we still have an amazing library of music from them as a group, and their subsequent solo work.

What Mick Jagger and Keith Richard have done to maintain stability over all of these years and keep it together to still sell out stadiums to this day? Is nothing short of incredible. I have the utmost respect for them, and I love their music. I am not trying to diminish any of their work, and how they have influenced so many. I just feel the Beatles did more for music structurally. They were a great band to begin with and sold to a specific group of people. As they grew, they began to expand their consciousness through mind-altering substances which in-turn expanded their own music to new genres and heights of which we didn’t expect. Next, they began to speak out on civil rights issues, as they were extremely anti-war. Then, the “free agent” period of them splitting up and going solo, created even more broad of a spectrum of musical styles.

I have no doubt that if Lennon wasn’t murdered, we could have seen a reunion of these friends and even a later in life album from them. We will never know what this would have sounded like. To take the immortal words of John Lennon himself, “imagine” a world in which he lived. I imagine it would have enveloped even more musical styles which could have ventured into hip-hop and other modern genres. The Beatles broke down barriers in ways that transcend words.


By: James Rich

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