Dec 8, 2013

Remembering John Lennon 33 Years After His Tragic Death

On December 8th 1980, John Lennon did a photo shoot with Rolling Stone photographer Annie Leibovitz at his home at the Dakota, on 72nd St & Central Park West in Manhattan.

Although Leibovitz tried to get John alone for a picture, he insisted Yoko be photographed with him at all times.

The result was Johns last professional photo shoot, where he lie naked clinging to Yoko fully clothed looking the other way. John then did what was to be his last interview, it was for RKO Radio with West Coast DJ; Dave Sholin.

After the interview, at around 5 PM, on John & Yoko left the Dakota Apartment Building on their way to the Record Plant Studios on 7th Ave. near Times Square.

As they left their home on 72nd street, John stopped to sign a copy of his latest album; "Double Fantasy". This haunting image was captured by an amateur photographer from New Jersey, who was a Lennon fan. The psychopath he had signed the record for, would later be waiting for him when he got home, to assassinate him.
 
At the Record Plant Studios, John & Yoko were to continue work on a Yoko Ono song; “Walking On the Thin Ice” in which John played guitar. After the session, John telephoned his son Sean, (who was five years old at the time) & told him he’d be home soon to tuck him in to bed.

John & Yoko arrived back at the Dakota on 72nd St & Central Park West just before 11 PM. They exited their limo on 72nd St. near the buildings main entrance, as opposed to having the car pull into the private courtyard.

John always tried to oblige the fans who waited for long periods of time outside the building to see him, by signing autographs or waving to them.
Yoko walked ahead of John toward the doorman & as John walked toward her, five shots rang out in the night.

John Lennon was struck in the back with the bullets and staggered into the private courtyard area. A Dakota Concierge, wrapped his coat around John as he lie there quickly losing large amounts of blood. The doorman got the gun away from the killer as he sat down & waited for the police to arrive. The first set of police officers arrived & arrested the killer.

The second set of police officers attended to the victim, they could not wait for an ambulance to arrive, because time was running. On their way to St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital on 59th St & 10th Avenue, they realized their victim was John Lennon.

Doctors quickly rushed in & worked on him for twenty minutes attempting to somehow revive him. Unfortunately, John Lennon was officially pronounced dead on arrival.

Most of the country learned of John’s death from Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football. Frank Gifford & Howard Cosell discussed the news that was fed to them & realized this was a major tragic event. It had to be told & it had to be done right. Cosell, a friend of Lennon, broke the news:  
 
“Yes, we have to say it. Remember this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses. An unspeakable tragedy confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous, perhaps, of all of The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead on arrival. Hard to go back to the game after that news flash, which in duty bound, we have to take.”

Just like that John Lennon was gone. A man who dedicated his life to peace & a man who's music had changed the face of popular music as we know it.

The same man, who had fought for his right against the Government, to live free in America. The man who chose to live in New York City where he felt safe. It would be the place he was violently killed right outside his home. The ultimate irony. John’s death affected millions of people & still does today.

As a 14 year old I was just going to sleep when my mother came into my room & said I think one of the Beatles died. I turned on the radio & heard “Instant Karma”, I knew it was true & I knew it was John Lennon. I was a huge Beatles fan then, as I still am today. The music of John Lennon has meant more to me than most anything during the course of my life.

Lennon’s death affected me in a big way, I felt I had lost a friend. It was one of the first times I had to deal with a loss, since I was lucky enough at that point to not have had any personal loss.

Back in December 1980, the radio stations played nothing but John’s music for days. The event changed many things, the world was never the same on many different levels. If John Lennon could be taken away just like that, right in front of his home, then any of us can go at any time. Celebrities & people in general began to think a bit more for their safety.

For the next twenty plus years, I went down to the Dakota Apartment Bld. & then to Strawberry Fields in Central Park, on both December 8th & October 9th Johns birthday. There I celebrated John’s life with thousdands of others, as I grew up through different phases of my life.

Today I reflect on the tragic events of December 8th 1980, but more importantly John’s life & music.
 
 
  “you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one….”

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