John Lennon: December 8, 1980

Where were you on December 8, 1980? Only a few times in history have had such a massive effect on the world:

  • World War II
  • John F. Kennedy Assassination
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • John Lennon’s Murder

johnlennonOn December 8th, 1980 I had gone to bed at my usual time of 10 PM. All was normal that night in our little home in Garland, Texas and I had gone to bed listening to the first side of John Lennon’s Double Fantasy. But the morning after was anything but normal. My mother was asleep on the couch, something I had never seen her do before. A note was placed on the small kitchen table next to my usual cereal bowl left out for me by my mother. The note read:

“John Lennon was killed last night. Mom”

If you think about it, you turn your young son on to John Lennon music earlier in the year and John releases a great album for the first time in 5 years and his music is being played all over the radio because of it, the last thing you would ever expect is to read a note from your own mother telling you that your new idol is dead.

I’m sorry, not dead, but killed. John Lennon was killed.

It was a heavy thought for a child of 12 when you just started to understand a new self. I was exploring new ideas and concepts from within my life and my mind and John Lennon was teaching me to think about imagining the world in peace or to imagine no possessions or heaven and hell. No Catholic church that I had ever visited the many times in my young life had ever made me think about heaven or hell as John Lennon had done.

Possessions! You mean my little record player? My toys? My outdated clothes? You mean what would it be like if I had none of those? And by the way, Mom, what is karma?

markdavidchapmanI remember watching a news program that very day and it was either Dan Rather or Walter Cronkite, I can’t exactly remember which one, and it was a news report where I saw dozens, if not hundreds, of people gathered around crying, sad, singing and holding signs that read, “The Dream Is Over” and “Give Peace A Chance” while my mother sat on the couch behind me crying quietly. My father sat on a fat and furry chair, drinking coffee, and shaking his head in disgust and sorrow.

I heard the words, “Mark David Chapman”, “Dakota building”, “John Lennon”, “Sad day in the world of rock and roll”, “Beatles”, “Yoko Ono” all within this few minutes of watching the news. And I then realized myself in my room listening to “Across The Universe” and it was the line, “Nothing’s gonna change my world”, that made my eyes tear up and a lump in my throat began hurting my head and I remember thinking to myself that it’s a horrible world we live in if nothing is going to change his world except for a man with a gun.

John Ono Lennon MBE, (born John Winston Lennon) rose to worldwide fame as a founder member of the Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Together with Paul McCartney, he formed one of the most celebrated songwriting partnerships of the 20th century.

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Born and raised in Liverpool, Lennon became involved as a teenager in the skiffle craze; his first band, the Quarrymen, evolved into the Beatles in 1960. As the group disintegrated towards the end of the decade, Lennon embarked on a solo career that produced the critically acclaimed albums John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, and iconic songs such as “Give Peace a Chance” and “Imagine“. After his marriage to Yoko Ono in 1969, he changed his name to John Ono Lennon. Lennon disengaged himself from the music business in 1975 to devote time to raising his infant son Sean, but re-emerged with Ono in 1980 with the new album Double Fantasy. He was murdered three weeks after its release.

Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. Controversial through his political and peace activism, he moved to New York City in 1971, where his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a lengthy attempt by Richard Nixon‘s administration to deport him, while some of his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement.

As of 2012 Lennon’s solo album sales in the United States exceed 14 million units, and as writer, co-writer or performer, he is responsible for 25 number-one singles on the US Hot 100 chart. In 2002 a BBC poll on the 100 Greatest Britons voted him eighth, and in 2008, Rolling Stone ranked him the fifth-greatest singer of all-time. He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

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At around 10:50 pm on 8 December 1980, as Lennon and Ono returned to their New York apartment in The DakotaMark David Chapman shot Lennon in the back four times at the entrance to the building. Lennon was taken to the emergency room of the nearby Roosevelt Hospital and was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:07 pm. Earlier that evening, Lennon had autographed a copy of Double Fantasy for Chapman.

Ono issued a statement the next day, saying “There is no funeral for John”, ending it with the words, “John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him.” His body was cremated at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. Ono scattered his ashes in New York’s Central Park, where the Strawberry Fields memorial was later created. Chapman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life. As of 2012, he remains in prison, having been denied parole seven times.

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