Yoko Ono wishes John Lennon happy birthday as next 'Imagine' search is launched

Liverpool marks occasion of late Beatle's 80th with new songwriting contest

John Lennon would have been celebrating his 80th birthday on Friday, and wife Yoko Ono has paid an emotional tribute to both the late Beatle and their son Sean on Twitter.

Lennon was killed at the age of 40 in New York by Mark Chapman, who apologised to Ms Ono for the "despicable act" in a hearing in September where he was denied parole for the eleventh time.

Lennon's premature death has served only to enhance his legend, his influence on popular culture remaining undimmed.

Nowhere is this influence more keenly felt than in his home city of Liverpool which has launched a contest to find the next Imagine in tribute to the songwriter.

The Liverpool International Song For Kindness contest aims to find an anthem as hopeful as this evocation of a world "Living life in peace", providing a timely boost as the city reels from the effects of Covid-19 and the prospect of further lockdowns.

"This contest will help to unify the people of Liverpool, encourage acts of kindness in the city and inspire the songwriters of both here and around the world," said Liverpool's mayor Joe Anderson.

"It will encourage young people to learn an instrument and make music, and who knows what great songs could come out of this.

“It is fitting that we are launching this initiative on the 80th birthday of John Lennon, the songwriter who was one of this city’s greatest sons.

"The songs that John wrote with Paul in The Beatles, and the classics like Imagine that he created as a solo artist and with Yoko, changed the sound of music and uplifted the world.

“Now we need to be uplifted again.”

The occasion is also being marked by previously unseen black and white photographs of the icon going on display at The Beatles Story in Liverpool.

They were taken by freelancer Robert Deutsch on October 17 1974 at the Beacon Theatre in New York where Lennon was touring the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on the Road show.

One depicts Lennon sitting at an organ in a dark velvet suit with a hat and lapel badge featuring Elvis Presley. Another shows him changing the sign of West 74th street on Broadway to “Sgt Pepper Way".

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