October 9, 2015 8:00 AM EDT

This Friday, John Lennon would have celebrated a major milestone: his 75th birthday. In honor of that day, take a look back at how Lennon grew from a young boy into a superstar and eventually a peace activist. As TIME’s Jay Cocks wrote after Lennon’s death in 1980, the experiences of his youth would stay with Lennon throughout his musical career:

Read more from 1980, here in the TIME Vault: When the Music Died

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Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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