Former Beatle John Lennon was murdered twenty five years ago today.
In a lot of ways, it seems like it was just yesterday.
I was 14 years old on December 8, 1980. Riding in a car with my sister’s friend, we heard the news on the radio. “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers was playing on Seattle’s KISW-FM when it suddenly stopped, and DJ Steve Slaton broke in to announce that Lennon was dead. He couldn’t even make it through the reading of the AP story. The guy just stopped, paused and started crying. Right there, live on the radio. I’ll never forget that moment.
In the late afternoon of December 8, 1980, in New York City, deranged fan Mark David Chapman met Lennon as he left for the recording studio and got his copy of Double Fantasy autographed; the event of Lennon signing one of his last autographs was caught by a photographer who witnessed this goodwill gesture.
Chapman remained in the vicinity of The Dakota for most of the day as a fireworks demonstration in nearby Central Park distracted the doorman and passers-by.
Later that evening, Lennon and Ono returned to their apartment from recording Ono’s single “Walking on Thin Ice” for their next album. At 10:50pm, their limousine pulled up to the entrance of the Dakota. Ono got out of the car first, followed by Lennon. Beyond the main entrance was a door which would be opened and a small set of stairs leading into the apartment complex. As Ono went in, Lennon got out of the car and glanced at Chapman, proceeding on through the entrance to the Dakota.
As Lennon walked past him, Chapman called out “Mr. Lennon.” As Lennon turned, Chapman crouched into what witnesses called a “combat” stance and fired five hollow-point bullets. One bullet missed, but four bullets entered John’s back and shoulder. One of the four bullets fatally pierced his aorta. Still, Lennon managed to stagger up six steps into the concierge booth where he collapsed, gasping “I’m shot, I’m shot.”
Chapman stood there, holding his .38 Charter Arms revolver, which was pulled out of his hands and kicked away by Jose Perdomo who then asked “What have you done, what have you done?”, to which Chapman replied “I just shot John Lennon.” Chapman then calmly took his coat off, placed it at his feet, took out a a copy of J.D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye, and started reading.
Police arrived within minutes, to find Chapman still waiting quietly outside, still reading the book.
The two officers transported Lennon to Roosevelt Hospital in the back of their squad car as they thought John was too badly hurt to take the risk of waiting for an ambulance. One of the officers asked Lennon if he knew who he was. Lennon’s reply is reported to have been “Yeah” or simply a nod of the head before he passed out. Despite extensive resuscitative efforts in the Emergency Department, Lennon had lost over 80% of his blood volume and died of shock at the age of 40. A stunned nation was informed of his death by Dr. Stephan Lynn who shortly before had broken the devastating news privately to anxiously waiting Yoko.
The doctor who pronounced John Lennon dead remembers that night
It was 25 years ago Thursday that John Lennon was shot dead outside his New York apartment building.
Shortly after the ex-Beatle was murdered, emergency room director Stephan Lynn found himself giving a strange order. All the linens used during the ex-Beatle’s brief treatment were to be disposed of. Bloody uniforms had to be laundered or destroyed. Doctor Lynn was anxious to keep hospital materials out of the hands of ghoulish souvenir hunters.
Lennon’s medical record never went into Roosevelt Hospital’s records room. It was given to a top hospital executive and placed in a vault. Doctor Lynn says, as far as he knows, it’s still there today.
NYT: Holding Lennon’s Still Heart
American Digest – The Day We Killed John Lennon
FOXNews, on Yoko today, and her first appearance with the Beatles in the movie “Let It Be”: “She looked like the specter of death itself.”
Blogs: Manhattan: 25 years ago | TalkLeft: After 25 Years, John Lennon Lives On | Corrupted Hockey Fan: John Lennon | World Wide Glen: Remembering John Lennon | Imagine Echoes: Thank You John! | The Lazy Bunny: Missing John Lennon | The Tension: John Lennon Remembered | Cat Witch Speaks: Working Class Hero | Three Way News: We all shine on | SPITBULL: Just a Guy | Joe Gandelman | Elie’s Exposition | Random Chaos |
News/Archives: In-Depth: Mark David Chapman | Lennon’s Death Certificate | The Man Who Shot John Lennon (Transcript) | BBC: John Lennon Remembered | The Death of John Lennon in the Media | Remembering John Lennon | Music Stars Remember John Lennon | John Lennon Topix.net News | Steve’s Beatles Page | Mark David Chapman: “Nothing could have stopped me.” | The Beatles in Edinburgh | When We Lost John Lennon | Neil Harrison | Jack Mitchell | Mark Steyn | World Marks Anniversary | Music and Flowers | Remembering Lennon’s Intellect, Wit | A Life Still Relevant | American Digest |