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The most important artist in history, according to John Lennon

A vital part of John Lennon’s story was his natural penchant for striking out on his own, treading a path far away from the confines of tradition. Of course, this bore multiple fruits musically, seeing The Beatles create history with their sonic innovations. Yet, this character also manifested in a host of other ways, from the clothes to the opinions.

In the most bleakly ironic way, it would ultimately be Lennon’s boldly outspoken nature that would motivate his murderer, Mark David Chapman. Severely mentally unwell, with a desire to replicate Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye, and enraged by The Beatles frontman’s comment about the Liverpool band being “more popular than Jesus”, culminated in a tragic murder for Lennon on December 8th, 1980.

When not covering serious topics such as politics and religion, Lennon usually used his outspoken nature to discuss the work of his peers. From rock ‘n’ roll pioneers such as Elvis Presley and Little Richard to contemporaries like Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones, many famous names were critiqued by The Beatles leader.

These accounts would often surprise fans, with one of his most debatable takes arriving in the 1970s when speaking to Jann Wenner in Rolling Stone. This arose when Lennon named the singer just as important as he and former Beatles songwriting partner, Paul McCartney.

It all started when Lennon was asked if there were any contemporary artists he liked from any medium. In response, he maintained that because he was an “ego-maniac”, he only cared about whether or not others were threats. He didn’t go any further with that.

Proceeding, Lennon named the musicians he admired most, including Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Frank Zappa. Switching mediums, visual artists such as Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol were named as favourites by the rocker. He then moved on to his wife, Yoko Ono, whom he said his “f*ckin’ idiotic generation” was too dumb to recognise as being as important as him and McCartney.

“Yoko is as important to me as Paul and Dylan rolled into one,” Lennon said. “I don’t think she will get recognition until she’s dead. There’s me, and maybe I could count the people on one hand that have any conception of what she is or what her mind is like, or what her work means to this f*ckin’ idiotic generation. She has the hope that she might be recognised. If I can’t get recognised, and I’m doing it in a f*ckin’ clown’s costume, I’m doing it on the streets, you know, I don’t know what.”

Watch Yoko Ono performing ‘We’re All Water’ below.

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