John Lennon was one of the most popular figures in the world as a singer, songwriter and anti-war activist of the 1960s and co-founder of The Beatles. John Denver was one of America's most popular acoustic artists in the 1970s and political and environmental activist.

Comparison chart

John Denver versus John Lennon comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartJohn DenverJohn Lennon
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Occupation American singer, songwriter, poet and activist. English singer-songwriter and anti-war activist.
Full name Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr John Winston Ono Lennon
Born December 31st, 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico October 9th 1940 in Liverpool, England
Death and causes of death October 12th, 1997 in a plane crash while piloting his Long- EZ plane. December 8th, 1980 – assassinated by Mark Chapman by shooting
Career One of the most popular acoustic artists of the 1970s. Rose to fame in the 60s as one of the founding members of the successful band The Beatles that spanned a decade and produced one of the most successful song writing partnerships of the 20th century with fellow band founder, Paul McCartney.
Solo career Recorded and released 300 songs, 200 of which he wrote the 1970s. Launched his solo career in 1970 following split of The Beatles
Solo hit albums 23 albums, none were hits but had hit singles. John Lennon Plastic Ono Band, Imagine and Double Fantasy.
Solo song hits Take me home country roads, Rocky Mountain, Leaving on a jet plane, Sunshine on my shoulders, Annie's song and Calypso gained him worldwide popularity . 27 number 1 hits in the US. Hot 100 list including the song Imagine, Just like starting over and Woman.
Solo Album sales Album sales reached 32.5 million in US. 14 million units in the U.S alone. Album sales since his death stand at 4.4 million.
Awards and accolades Inducted in to Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1996 and a Grammy Hall of Fame award in 1998 for Take me home, country roads . 8th on 100 Greatest Britons BBC poll; 5th on Rolling Stone mag's Greatest singer of all time ('08); posthumously inducted into Songwriter's Hall of Fame in '87 and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in '94. At least 12 monuments in his name worldwide.
Political activism Campaigned for Jimmy Carter and a supporter of the Democratic Party. Supported many charities for the environment, the poor and Aids in Africa crisis. Vocal critic of Reagan's environmental and defense policies and the National Rifle Association. Very vocal against President Nixon & the Vietnam war. Famously used his honeymoon as Bed for peace at the Amsterdam Hilton. At the 2nd bed-in he recorded Give peace a chance which became the anti-war anthem sung by 250k anti-Vietnam War demonstrators
John Lennon in Montreal, Canada,1969
John Lennon in Montreal, Canada,1969

Hit Songs and albums

Lennon co-founded The Beatles and is known for his solo career albums such as John Lennon, Imagine and Plastic Ono Band. He was part of the one of the 20th century's most successful songwriting partnerships with Paul McCartney and some of the most well known songs still popular songs today.

John Denver gained worldwide popularity for his songs Take Me Home, Country Roads, Leaving on a Jet Plane, Annie's Song and Rocky Mountain while his albums are less well-known worldwide.

Album sales

John Lennon has sold around 14 million unit albums in the U.S alone.

Released shortly before his death the album Double Fantasy was John Lennon's best selling album at 3 million shipments in the U.S. John Denver sold many albums after his death in 1997 and his total album sales recorded 32.5 million after 19 million unrecognized units were discovered.


Following John Lennon's death, the album Double Fantasy won the 1981 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. In 1982 the BRIT Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music also went to Lennon. Participants in a 2002 BBC poll voted him eighth of "100 Greatest Britons". Between 2003 and 2008, Rolling Stone recognized Lennon in several reviews of artists and music, ranking him fifth of "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" and 38th of "The Immortals: The Fifty Greatest Artists of All Time". His albums John Lennon Plastic Ono Band and Imagine were 22nd and 76th respectively of "The RS 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". He was appointed the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) with the other Beatles in 1965. He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

John Denver was inducted in to Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1996 and a Grammy Hall of Fame award in 1998 for Take me home, country roads. He has won 1 Academy of Country Music Award in 1974 for Album of the year for Back Home Again, 3 American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock artist in 1975, in 1976 for Favorite Album (Back Home Again) and in the same year for Favorite Country Male Artist. His 2 Country Music Association Awards were in 1975 for Entertainer of the Year and Song of the year in the same year for Back Home Again. In 1975 he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special for An Evening with John Denver. He won a Grammy Award in 1997 for Best Musical Album for Children and in 1998 for the Grammy Hall of Fame Award for Take Me Home, Country Roads. His song Rocky Mountain is the official song for the state of Colorado.

Political Activism

John Lennon was a strong voice against U.S President Nixon and the Vietnam War. He and wife Yoko used their honeymoon as a Bed for Peace at the Amsterdam Hilton which attracted huge media attention in March 1969. The song Give Peace a Chance recorded at the second bed for peace soon became the anti-Vietnam war anthem with a quarter of a million people chanting the song in Washington on October 15th, the second Vietnam Moratorium Day. President Nixon was threatened by this episode and when his administration heard that Lennon may be involved in a concert in San Diego on the same day as the Republican National Convention also in the city they tried to have Lennon deported back to the U.K. Lennon spent 4 years in deportation hearings following the exploration of his 1968 cannabis possession conviction in London.

John Denver was a strong supporter of the Democratic Party and helped Jimmy Carter's campaign in 1976. He supported many charitable causes including the environment, poverty, homelessness and Aids in Africa. He began the Windstar charity to promote sustainable living. He was a strong critic of the Reagan's government in the 1980s especially military and environment spending policies. He opposed free-market economics and advocated unilateral disarmament of the U.S. His autobiographical folk ballad Let Us Begin (What are we making weapons for) lashed out against conservative politics. He wrote an open letter to the media about the National Rifle Association as a corrupt machine that could buy off politicians. He also opposed the drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge when he battled to expand the refuge in the 1980s.


John Lennon was shot by Mark Chapman at 10:50pm on December 8th, 1980 soon after Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono returned to their New York apartment building. Lennon was shot 4 times in the back at the entrance to the building. He had autographed a copy of the album Double Fantasy for the shooter earlier that evening. Lennon was cremated and his ashes scattered in New York's Central Park where the Strawberry Field's Memorial was later created in his honor. Mark Chapman pleaded guilty to second degree murder, is still in prison and has been denied parole on many occasions.

John Denver was killed when the Long EZ plane he was piloting crashed into the Pacific Ocean close to Pacific Grove, California. He was an experienced pilot with over 27,000 hours of flight time.


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