A Brief History
On December 8, 1980, John Lennon, the former Beatle and one of the most famous musicians of the 1960s and 1970s was mercilessly gunned down, shot in the back on a New York sidewalk, thus joining the ranks of peace lovers who were not allowed to be left in peace, men such as Abraham Lincoln, “Mahatma” Gandhi, Martin L. King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy.
Digging deeper, we find Lennon, only 40 years old when murdered, writer and co-writer of so many great Beatles hits as well as so many of his solo songs, many of which dealt with peaceful themes such as “Imagine”, “Give Peace a Chance”, and “All You Need is Love” walking with his wife, Yoko Ono, back to his New York City apartment at about 10:50 pm on December 8, 1980, having been dropped off by his limousine some distance from the Dakota (the name of the building the Lennon’s lived in) instead of in the safety of the courtyard.
The assassin, Mark David Chapman, a 25 year old from Hawaii, had been waiting around outside the Dakota apparently to ambush Lennon, which is exactly what he did. When Lennon had passed Chapman, without so much as a word (discounted rumors to the contrary) the assassin fired a .38 Special caliber revolver 5 times at Lennon’s back, hitting the doomed singer 4 times. Lennon staggered to the doorman for help, but of course with 4 slugs in his back there was not much that anyone could do to save him. The doorman disarmed Chapman, who promptly removed his coat and sat down, awaiting the police. The concierge assisted the doorman, but was unable to accomplish any useful first aid.
Lennon was rushed to the hospital by ambulance and reportedly was still breathing on arrival, but was not breathing and had no heartbeat when the doctor first saw him. Frantic efforts to revive Lennon were made, even to the point of cutting open his chest and manually pumping his heart. It was to no avail, and John Lennon died of massive blood loss due to the bullet wounds, leaving a grieving Yoko Ono, son Sean, son Julian (from a previous marriage), and a world mourning the shocking loss of a beloved symbol of the 1960’s peace movement.
Lennon was cremated and his ashes scattered by Yoko in New York’s Central Park where a memorial to Lennon was later made. There was no funeral ceremony per his wishes, although people in New York (and around the world) gathered in throngs to sing his songs and mourn his passing.
Chapman had traveled from Hawaii in October of 1980 with Lennon’s murder in mind, but for some reason did not complete his evil plan at that time. On the tragic day, several hours before the assassination, Chapman incredibly had Lennon autograph a record album! Although Chapman appears to most normal people as some sort of mentally unbalanced person, the law is not quite so casual. Despite advice from his lawyer to try an insanity defense, Chapman instead pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life, with parole possible after 20 years. So far, he has been turned down for parole every 2 years for a total of 11 times as of the year 2020. Nobody really knows why Chapman killed Lennon, but one reason Chapman gave was Lennon’s observation that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” Chapman also claimed to be offended by the apparent hypocrisy of Lennon’s public opinions about materialism and the fact that Lennon was quite rich. Imagine if this great talent had another 20 or 40 years to bless us with more of his genius. We miss him.
Question for students (and subscribers): Why do so many men of peace die violently at the hands of deranged people? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, you might examine the following:
Behnke, Alison Marie. Death of a Dreamer: The Assassination of John Lennon (Single Titles). Twenty-First Century Books, 2012.
Bresler, Fenton. Who Killed John Lennon? St Martins Pr, 1989.
Greenberg, Keith Elliot. December 8, 1980: The Day John Lennon Died. Backbeat Books, 2010.