Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thirty Years Ago Today; 12/8/80 The Murder of John Lennon

There is more than a little irony in that this entry follows the one on the passing of Don Meredith, former Dallas Cowboy quarterback and longtime color analyst on Monday Night Football. Because thirty years ago tonight I was watching the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots on MNF, when Howard Cosell broke this tragic news to me and to millions of others watching on ABC.

John Lennon, the founder and for years the official unofficial leader of The Beatles, author, artist, political activist, and until late in 1980 a stay at home Dad caring for son Sean, was murdered, shot in front of his home in Manhattan's The Dakota by deranged fan Mark David Chapman at 10:50PM, and pronounced dead at 11:07 PM at Roosevelt Hospital.

Several hours early Lennon autographed a copy of his comeback album, Double Fantasy, for Chapman.

Below, two segments of VH-1's Behind The Music, Remastered, telling of John Lennon's last days, the shooting, the frantic attempt to save him, and the aftermath of his death.

In the second clip you can hear WNEW-FM's Vin Scelsa tell his audience that he was momentarily speechless. I was part of that audience, at home across the river in Jersey. I didn't put on the news on TV that night; I wanted to spend time with music people, not talking heads. I put on Vin and listened to his show. He took calls from his listeners, and was joined by other NEW-FM deejays throughout the night; I'm pretty sure Dave Herman and Scott Muni joined Vin, but it was thirty years ago and my memories of the immediate hours are kind of fuzzy. As one who grew up with the Beatles as a teenager and remained a fan of the former members after their split, John's death was like that of a family member. Though he was nearly ten years older than me, we kind of grew up together, he in that fishbowl of fame, and me in the anonymity of the life of a regular guy.

But a little piece of me, and of Our Generation, was killed by Mark David Chapman that day. The Dream really was over.

Below, segment of a YouTube documentary on New York rock radio legend Vin Scelsa and his long running (to this day) FM show Idiot's Delight. The clip begins with the death of John Lennon, and the reaction of Vin and his listeners.

The following Sunday a tribute was held for John Lennon in Central Park. I was committed to be at a now defunct bowl game in Giants Stadium that day. But I found a small space, and stood in silence for a few minutes, away from the crowd.

I just wanted to say "Thank you" to John Lennon one more time....and say it was nice to know him.


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