Since the core of the Beatles ‘fab four’ was formed in 1962, until their split in 1970, they were arguably the influential band in music history, but which Beatles are dead?

Two members of the band are now dead, John Lennon and George Harrison. Lennon was murdered in 1980 by Mark Chapman, whilst Harrison died of Lung Cancer in 2001. Stuart Sutcliffe, often referred to as the ‘Fifth Beatle’ died at just age 21 in Hamburg, West Germany, of a brain haemorrhage.

John Lennon (1940 – 1980)

Born on 9 October 1940, John Lennon was one half of the most famous songwriting duo in the history of music and along with his writing partner Paul McCartney, formed the core of the Beatles until they split in 1970.

Having left the band, John had a highly successful career as a solo artist and as a collaborator with his wife Yoko Ono. He became synonymous with the anti-war movement in America and President Nixon tried to have him deported.

In 1975 he took a hiatus from the music industry to raise his son Sean Lennon and didn’t return until 1980, on the Yoko Ono collaboration Double Fantasy, which won the 1981 Grammy for album of the year, following his death.

Shortly after his return with the album Double Fantasy, John Lennon was shot dead in the archway of his Manhattan Apartment building by a Beatles fan, Mark Chapman on 8 December 1980. Earlier that day he had signed a copy of his new album for Mark Chapman but upon returning to his apartment building was shot 4 times and pronounced dead later that evening.

His ashes were scattered by Yoko Ono in Central Park, where the Strawberry Fields memorial was created.

See our post “Which Beatles are Alive?”

George Harrison (1943 – 2001)

Born on 25 February 1943, George Harrison was part of the Beatles with Lennon and McCartney from 1958, before Ringo Starr joined in 1962 and the final line of the fab four was born. George was the lead guitarist, sang back vocals and also took occasional lead vocals. In the later years, he wrote songs for each of the Beatles albums, with “Here Comes The Sun” being the most famous.

Whilst not as successful as either Lennon or McCartney as a solo artist, he still enjoyed considerable commercial and critical success, releasing 12 albums in total. He also did a lot of collaborations over the years, the biggest of which was with the Travelling Wilburys, a band he formed in 1988 with Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty.

Harrison was well known for his love of Indian Culture and took a particular interest in Hinduism, something that remained with him for his entire life. He died on 29 November 2001 from Lung Cancer, just two years after he was attacked with a knife in his home at Friar Park.

Like Lennon, he was cremated and his ashes were scattered according to Hindu tradition in a ceremony in the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India.