John Lennon was the first Beatle to join the group. (Lennon didn’t meet Paul McCartney until the Quarrymen, the pre-Beatles skiffle band that Lennon founded, played their second show.) Lennon was also the first Beatle to release a solo single, and the first to leave the band. But he was the last Beatle to hit #1. That must’ve been weird.
The nascent rock-critical industry certainly regarded Lennon as the most important, poetic, and generally great Beatle, and much of the public probably agreed. But Lennon wasn’t making hits. All of Lennon’s former bandmates had multiple #1 singles before Lennon ascended to that summit. By the time he got there, Lennon didn’t even think it was possible. He’d spent his immediate post-Beatles years carving out a different path, becoming the world’s loudest and most visible protest performance-artist, staging public stunts with his wife Yoko Ono. He and Ono had done what they could to inject rock ‘n’ roll with avant-garde sensibilities — sometimes successfully, sometimes not. He’d become a public voice against the Vietnam War and against Richard Nixon, and Nixon spent years trying to get him deported as a result.
Source: Tom Breihan/stereogum.com