It was 32 years ago today, on a quiet New York City street, that a little man found his 15 minutes of fame by depriving the world of a genius. On December 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman stepped out of the dark and shot former Beatle John Lennon four times in the back as Lennon returned home to the Dakota Apartments from the recording studio. Only hours earlier, Lennon had taken a moment to autograph a copy of his new Double Fantasy album for the murderous Mr. Chapman.
While Chapman sat down on the sidewalk and waited for the police to arrive and arrest him, Lennon was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:07 pm est. The world lost some of its magic that night and Mark David Chapman was no longer anonymous. As millions of music lovers around the world reeled in shock over the loss of one of the four legendary Beatles, Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono, spoke these poignant words:
“John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him.”
America and the world had suffered through many public murders during the previous two decades. We buried our young President, John F. Kennedy, after he was gunned down in Dallas. We stared in horror as Martin Luther King lay dead on a Memphis motel balcony and we watched on live television as the President’s brother, Robert Kennedy, bled out his life on a Los Angles kitchen floor. Malcolm X was assassinated by members of the Nation Of Islam, while he spoke to his followers in Harlem and civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, and Michael H. Schwerner were butchered by the KKK in Mississippi. The nation was bathed in blood and we were all becoming numb.
The murder of John Lennon was entirely different than the assassinations of previous decades and it released many of us from the stupor induced by years of violence. Lennon was not a politician or a leader of a movement. He was an artist, a musician, and a man who touched our heart and our souls. To the many millions of John Lennon’s admirers, it was as if someone had decided to take the life of Leonardo da Vinci or Beethoven or William Shakespeare. While we understood Chapman’s impulse for violence, in our hearts we just didn’t understand why anyone wanted to murder a man who brought us so much joy.
Lennon was, of course, a founding member of the history’s most popular musical group, The Beatles. But he was much more than one of the “four lads from Liverpool.” Lennon was a rabble rousing trouble maker, an inspired poet, a flamboyant artist, a world famous musician and an incredibly successful music producer. He was also a business executive, philanthropist, husband and father. He was a curious, smart man with a strong independent spirit and he knew what he wanted from life.
“Part of me would like to be accepted by all facets of society and not be this loudmouthed lunatic poet/musician. But I cannot be what I am not … I was the one who all the other boys’ parents—including Paul’s father—would say, ‘Keep away from him’ … The parents instinctively recognized I was a troublemaker, meaning I did not conform and I would influence their children, which I did. I did my best to disrupt every friend’s home … Partly out of envy that I didn’t have this so-called home … but I did … There were five women that were my family. Five strong, intelligent, beautiful women, five sisters. One happened to be my mother. [She] just couldn’t deal with life. She was the youngest and she had a husband who ran away to sea and the war was on and she couldn’t cope with me, and I ended up living with her elder sister. Now those women were fantastic … And that was my first feminist education … I would infiltrate the other boys minds. I could say, “Parents are not gods because I don’t live with mine and, therefore, I know.”
After the tragic loss of her husband, Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono funded the construction of the lovely Strawberry Fields Memorial to her husband in New York City’s Central Park. Every year on December 8th, no matter the weather, people who loved John’s music will make their way to Strawberry Fields to gather, sing, reminisce and leave a token in John Lennon’s memory. The mood will be bittersweet and loving and Lennon’s music will fill the air.
John Lennon had a vision for the world. As a tribute to his memory, we would like to share two things with you. This video and a simple wish that all your dreams come true. Just IMAGINE!!