ED GORDON, host:

Twenty-five years ago today, the world lost a musical icon. John Lennon was known for many things in his career. He was half of The Beatles' songwriting team and helped push the quartet to superstardom in the 1960s. Although the legendary group hailed from the United Kingdom, it was evident that soul music was what shaped much of the band's early work. In fact, The Beatles scored hits by covering songs like the Isley Brothers' classic "Twist and Shout" and The Miracles' hit "You Really Got a Hold on Me."

(Soundbite of "You Really Got a Hold on Me")

THE MIRACLES (Music Group): (Singing) I don't like you, but I love you. Seems that I'm always thinking of you. Woah, woah, woah...

(Soundbite of "You Really Got a Hold on Me")

THE BEATLES (Music Group): (Singing) You treat me badly. I love you madly. You've really got a hold on me. You've really got a hold on me. You've really got a hold on me. You've really got a hold on me. Baby, I don't...

GORDON: This song was a top 10 hit in 1962. Smokey Robinson wrote it for his group, The Miracles. The next year The Beatles covered the ballad and years later they performed it in their movie "Let It Be."

The group continued to compliment legends of soul through the art of imitation, taking on Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally," The Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman" and the Ray Charles hit "I've Got a Woman." But respect became mutual with the musical growth and profound influence of The Beatles. Over the years, John Lennon's songs have been soulfully redone by many R&B performers. Music master Ray Charles returned the favor and took on one of Lennon's biggest hits.

(Soundbite of "Imagine")

Mr. RAY CHARLES (Soul Singer): (Singing) Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try, yeah. No hell below us, above us only sky. Well...

(Soundbite of "Imagine")

Mr. JOHN LENNON (Pop Artist): (Singing) Imagine all the people, living for today. Ahh..

GORDON: More than two decades after his death, John Lennon's work continues to influence pop music artists. The hip-hop band the Black Eyed Peas is one group recording a song by Lennon to raise funds for Amnesty International.

(Soundbite of "Imagine")

Mr. LENNON: (Singing) Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too. Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one.

GORDON: Thanks for joining us. That's our program for today. To listen to the show, visit npr.org. NEWS & NOTES was created by NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium.

(Soundbite of "Imagine")

Mr. LENNON: (Singing) ...if you can.

GORDON: I'm Ed Gordon. This is NEWS & NOTES.

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