Robert Altman, Paul McCartney, Roger Ebert, Larry Flynt, Mick Jagger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas, George Harrison and others recall how they felt when they heard the news of John Lennon's death.
Like the generation before, everyone of a certain age will always remember where they were and how they felt when they heard of the murder of John Lennon. December 8, 1980. The beginning of a long cold and very empty winter. Coinciding with the death of liberalism and the election of Reagan - it seemed to be the death of "All You Need Is Love", as thependulam of history was swinging back to the right. (And history seems to confirm this, what would John have to say today)?
The real sting of course was Lennon's recent emergence from a 5 year hiatus from songwriting with a new album called Double Fantasy. With songs like (just Like) Starting Over, Woman, Watching The Wheels and Beautiful Boys - it seemed a new, more grown up Lennon was rining in a future full of hope. He was still involved in a media blitz on behalf of the album when he was shot by a deranged madman at the entrance to New York's Dakota Building (where he was living with his wife, Yoko Ono, and their son, Sean).
A number of people have shared their memories of the event. Not all are Lennon fans, but their recollections reveal the significance of the former Beatle's death as one of those mental milestones by which we measure our lives.
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"Nashville" was sort of a harbinger of it. When John Lennon got assassinated, I got a call from a reporter at the Washington Post, and he asked, "Do you feel responsible for this?" I said, "How do you mean?" He said, "Well because in your film 'Nashville' you did an assassination of a celebrity." I told him, "That's what the film is all about -- do you feel responsible for not heeding my warning?"
I live a few blocks from the Dakota on the Upper West Side. I first heard that John Lennon had been shot while I was sitting in a taxi. It was on the radio. The taxi was less than a block from the Dakota at the time. My first thought was, "Why would anyone want to kill John Lennon? He's just a West Side househusband." Yoko, I could have understood -- her music was awful. But John, then, was just the druggie Beatle who sat around a West Side pediatrician's office with his baby son and could be seen pushing a stroller in the park or schlumping out of the deli at West 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue. I can remember being more curious about who could have wanted to shoot him. On the way back across town a couple of hours later, the people were lined up in the dark on both sides of West 72nd Street. They all had candles and were trying to sing "Give Peace a Chance." I thought that was an odd thing to sing at a murder scene. I rolled down the window and smelled a lot of pot in the air. I wondered what in the world was going to happen to his kid.
I was in Los Angeles, and I was shocked in the same way that I was when John Kennedy got shot. I thought, "Here's a young man who has made such a substantial contribution to our culture, and he has been taken from us in such a senseless way." I was pretty much numb to respond beyond that.
I was 11 years old. I was actually in London, in a musical, and I remember all the grown-up people in the cast running through the corridors, shouting, "John Lennon's dead." It's funny because our apartment in New York is two buildings away from the Dakota Building and right opposite Strawberry Fields. It always chills me when I see tourists pointing their cameras up to Yoko's apartment or photographing the gate. Michael and I actually went there the other day for a dinner party. We were waiting for the elevator to go up to our friend's apartment, and Michael said, "Right here." He was standing at the elevator once, going up to see a friend, and John Lennon walked out. He said, "I know you," in his Liverpudlian accent, and they had a quick conversation. That was the last time Michael saw him. It's kind of eerie when you live so close. I've met Yoko a few times. But it always gives me a chill when I see people photographing the Dakota -- it makes my stomach turn a bit.
I was one block away, where my apartment was. And I was actually there at the scene soon after the tragedy. I was right there. That actually was what motivated me to begin my work in handgun control -- that incident.
Look, I'm lucky if I remember what I did last week, much less 20 years ago. But the murder of John Lennon defined a turning point in American history. No longer could we deny our monomania with celebrities, our ghoulish fascination with their life and the haunting, harassing and stalking of them unto and even beyond death. Everyone becomes more popular postmortem. More heroic. Mythical. Dead men always sell more records, more newspapers. How typically American that some sicko would take it upon himself to wipe out the messenger whose mantra was "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance." We were forced to finally evaluate, because of his death, how truly radical Lennon was.
At the time the news was reported, I was on the air with the 10 p.m. Monday night newscast on Channel 5 in Chicago. We finished the newscast at 10:29 p.m., and then were startled to hear the voice of the station's booth announcer reading the Associated Press bulletin. The show's producer had made a judgment call that there was not time to get the bulletin to the news studio before the show ended. I felt as if a chapter of history had been closed. I drove over to the Sun-Times and wrote a column for Tuesday's paper. The vigil had begun in Central Park.
T. Coraghessan Boyle
I was in Los Angeles and I was writing my novel "Water Music." And since I had been a witness -- not an eyewitness but a witness -- to many such traumatic events of the, let's say, 12 years that preceded that, it didn't rock me too much. It almost seemed expected in some way. What's his legacy? He is a pure rocker, absolutely the pure rocker, whose gut-wrenching vocals on songs like "Money" are still ringing in my head and helped form my own appreciation of rock 'n' roll and my own vocal style -- him to a degree, but also people like Van Morrison and Muddy Waters and all sorts of great singers. But he was one of them. Many people will say as a composer he's most important, but for me it's just those gut-wrenching vocals he could do.
I was at the house of a friend of mine, Perlie Biles in Atlanta, when we heard the news on the radio of John Lennon's death. What a waste. What a loss. You know, he lives through his music. That's the good thing.
I was crossing the Bay Bridge leaving San Francisco, going to Oakland, as I heard the news on the radio. I was just approaching the bridge. All I thought was that tragedy affects everyone. And in time it does affect everyone. Several years later, as a waitress, I would wait on Yoko with her dark glasses and serve her espresso. All I thought of was that both Jackie Kennedy and Yoko Ono wore dark black glasses after the death of our heroes.
Mamie Van Doren
I was in Florida, and I was working on a musical comedy called "Making Whoopee." I was staying at a hotel, and I turned the TV on and saw that Lennon had been killed. I remember I left the hotel and went to a place to eat by myself. It was very cold out, and very depressing. It made me very sad.
I don't remember where I was when John Lennon was shot. My sister tells me I was "in the living room with Dad." Since I was only 10 years old, it didn't have the effect on me that it had years later when I realized how tragic it was that he wasn't around anymore. Before his death, I remember dancing around our apartment with my sister, blasting my dad's LPs in the living room and acting out various characters in the songs on "Sgt. Pepper's": Lucy, Rita, Mr. Kite, the Hendersons. When "Double Fantasy" came out, we were mostly obsessed with Yoko's unusual singing style. But I really didn't feel the impact of what had happened on Dec. 8, 1980, until I grew up with all the great footage and all of his great songs. And now I feel gypped.
Geddy Lee, singer/bassist, Rush
I was at Morin Heights, a recording studio an hour north of Montreal, working on the song "Witch Hunt" for the "Moving Pictures" album the night he was shot. It was a very heavy moment, I recall. I think we were all just stunned. I remember constantly going back and forth, from working to the TV, to try to get some news. If I remember the environment, looking around the room, my memory just shows me a lot of pale faces staring at the tube.
Bob Guccione Jr.
I was in New York with my then (now someone else's) wife. We had just had dinner and saw the news report on TV. We had been near the Dakota that night and I had walked past it the evening before, I think. We lived on East 67th Street then, just the other side of Central Park. I was stunned by the news, but unmoved per se. It was simply a big news story -- I didn't know the man. I felt in the disconnected way one does at recognizing the name and life of a victim, but no more emotion than that. I loved the Beatles -- and therefore, abstractly, Lennon's contribution to my entertainment and cultural nourishment. But I've always thought that the people who get emotionally upset, even disturbed, at the death of someone they never knew are a little emotionally lacking. I mean, what happens to them when someone they knew, who knew them, dies? Lennon didn't belong to the people (and neither did Princess Di or JFK Jr.) his work did. And it's still available for purchase. My second reaction, which I insightfully imparted to my wife, was, "Well, that settles the issue of a Beatles reunion." Lennon never wanted it anyway.
Around that time Darby Crash, the lead singer of the Germs, died, and that was much more important to me than John Lennon's death. But when Lennon died, I was visiting my brother in L.A., and we were having a laugh about it with Michael Collins because people were boohoo-hoo-ing it so much.
I was in the basement of a house in St. Helena, Calif., in the wine country, watching television with a writer friend of mine named Bo Goldman, who won a couple of Oscars, for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Melvin and Howard." I can remember it coming over the TV, and Bo and I were sitting there drinking a bottle of wine. It was shocking and terrifying. I remember both Kennedy assassinations. I remember Martin Luther King's. As with all of them, you felt this terror and outrage.
I was in L.A. when it happened, and I was, of course, appalled. I had never been a fan of the Beatles or of John Lennon particularly. But I was an admirer of what he stood for, if not of his music. It just seemed to be one more atrocity in a string of such atrocities sweeping the country, as with the killings of the Kennedys or of Martin Luther King, where individuals of a liberal orientation were assassinated.
I was in New York. I sort of grew up in this funny musical family who was out of touch with the rest of the world, on classical music. But I remember how huge it was for everybody around me; it was a citywide phenomenon. It sort of felt like somebody had draped a dark cloth over the entire city for days on end, like a tinge darker.
Dr. Susan Block
I'd just left New Haven, Conn., and moved to San Francisco to go to grad school part time and try to be a hippie full time. Folks kept telling me I was a decade too late, but I didn't believe them. I was living in a big beautiful Victorian house on Masonic Avenue near Haight Street, trying to restart the revolution with a bunch of other hippie wannabes. We were having one of our big organic dinners when one of the members of the house came running downstairs, saying he'd just heard from a friend back East that John Lennon had been killed. At first, we didn't believe it. We thought it was just another Beatles rumor, like Paul being dead. Then we turned on the TV, and it was all over the news. We cried and hugged and put "The White Album" on the record player. I felt numb. I realized that maybe those folks were right: John was dead, Reagan was president, the '80s were underway and it was too late to restart the revolution -- that revolution anyway.
Benicio Del Toro
I know exactly where I was. It was 1980, right? I was in Puerto Rico. My brother was a big fan of the Beatles, and I was too. That album "Double Fantasy" had just come out, with Yoko Ono. I heard in school. My brother came up to me and he said, "They killed John Lennon." I remember I cried.
I remember distinctly where I was at the time of John Lennon's death. I was in a limousine, stuck in traffic on Central Park West about two blocks from the Dakota Building. I was with the band that I was currently in, called Neon Leon and the Bondage Babies, and I cried a deep sorrowful cry -- the kind that junkies seldom get to feel but at that moment I felt.
F. Murray Abraham
I was in Morocco with two of my fellow actors -- Denholm Elliot was one and Tony Vogel was the other -- and Tony said, "You Americans -- that couldn't happen anywhere but America, that they would kill someone like Lennon." I remember it distinctly. I told him to drop dead. "Do you really believe there aren't crazy people in England?"
I was downtown on Fifth Avenue [in New York]. The first bit of news I got, I thought, "He'll make it." You know, "It's just a flesh wound." And then, later on, the news really came. He wasn't just a mate of mine, he was a mate of everybody's, really. He was a funny guy. And you realize that you're stunned. You really don't believe it. And you think, "God, why can't I do anything about it?" I got well drunk on it. And I had another one for John. Then there was the confusion, the phone calls, trying to find out if Yoko was OK. There were the Beatles, and there was John. As a band, they were a great unit. But John, he was his own man. We got along very well. We didn't see each other very often, but he would sort of turn up at your hotel. Usually, if I was in the city, I'd stay at the Plaza. If John turned up, that meant John wanted to party. He didn't come there to discuss, you know, philosophy - although it would end up like that. I would just get into town, and there'd be a knock at the door: "Hey, man, what is going on around here?" We would get the guitars down and sing. And, in our spare time, discuss world domination. He's rubbed off on me as much as anybody. A bit of me rubbed off on John, too, you know. He took it with him. My father just passed away, and he winked at me just before he died. I really feel a lot better about death now. I'm getting off on that wink. I'd give the wink to John.
I first met him in London in 1963. The Ronettes were the top group in England at the time. He saw us and got in touch with our manager, and there was this party and we danced all night with all the fellas, taught them the New York dances. He liked me for more than just my voice. As the party winded down, we started talking. I was just nineteen years old, and starting to make it big, and he knew things. He told me, "It's all going to change, you're going to start riding in limousines," and I'm like, "You're kidding me!" I met him in the street years later. He called my name: "Ronnie!" and I turned around; it was so fucking cool. When he called my name, everyone turned around and saw him [and recognized him], and he didn't care. He got shot right after that. When he was shot, I was so devastated, I stayed in bed for a week. I was in the studio when I heard; I just dropped the phone - it broke my heart. I always think of John Lennon every time I'm in the recording studio. I can't help it. He's my spirit talking to me, saying, "Don't give up."
Lennon's was one of the first voices I emulated when I began to sing. When we held tryouts in my pal's dad's living room for the singer in our band, I sang a Beatles song that Lennon sang. There is something about the timbre of his voice, something that it conveys, that still gets to me. The quality and the poetry of his lyrics. The wry sense of humor. And the boyishness, in the beginning. There are a great many things that touch me about him. I sang "In My Life" to my wife at our wedding in 1995. I was at the home I had then on Mulholland Drive [in Hollywood], and the news came over the television that John Lennon had been murdered. I remember the months after that as being a very dark time. There was an incomprehensible sense of loss. I remember the waves of fear and paranoia it sent through the musical community; a great many people hired security after that. Lennon was somebody who seemed like a member of the family, who was indestructible. That event stayed with me for a long time - when I hear the name Mark David Chapman, I shiver. Lennon was, to put it in his own words, a "working-class hero." One particular lyric I cherish is "Imagine." If you think about it, it could have been something very controversial. You hardly heard anybody remark on the line "Imagine there's no heaven/It's easy if you try/No hell below us. . . ." He is disputing all the tenets of Christianity. Nobody made a fuss about it, not like the time he said, "We're more popular than Jesus." Probably technically not false, but they really came down on him for that. "Imagine" is about all the war and strife that religion has caused, and saying, "Let's do away with all that." Which I think is a very brave and wonderful thing to say.
It was my twelfth birthday, and I was walking home from school. I guess I would have been young enough to not see death as being entirely disastrous. The nature of my own personality is that I don't see death as a disastrous thing. It's just a door that opens, and somebody goes somewhere else.
Lennon had a sense of everybody's right to stir shit. He was very brave and vulnerable, and saw that it was brave to show one's vulnerability.
He would probably love the rap movement. In a lot of ways, rap is where his voice can still be heard. People underestimate the subliminal impact of not just his music but the things he was doing publicly, like the shit-stirring. All of that had a huge influence on rap, and on little, bold, big-mouthed Irish singers. You almost forget how sexy he was. Plus, he [was] wonderful and gorgeous and sexy.
I was in Miami, and I think the Police had come offstage at around 10:15. I was told that he'd been shot, and I had the reaction that everybody had: disbelief, shock, horror. What happens when people like him die is that the landscape changes. You know, a mountain disappears; a river is gone. And I think his death was probably as significant as that. The Beatles were formative in my upbringing, my education. They came from a very similar background: the industrial towns in England, working class; they wrote their own songs, conquered the world. That was the blueprint for lots of other British kids to try to do the same. We all miss him, and I think about him every time I walk by that building.
I had just gotten into a minicab in London when the news came on, and then they played all John Lennon songs. The first song was "A Day in the Life." I was completely shocked but, in a way, not that surprised.
The most amazing time I ever had with John Lennon is when we went to see the Maharishi [Mahesh Yogi, a popular Indian guru and spiritual adviser], and that's when I really got closest to him. He was so funny. I was always a bit frightened of him because he was so incredibly clever. The weekend we went to Bangor [Wales, where the Maharishi was delivering a lecture] was very intense because we all went on the train there: the Beatles and me and Mick Jagger and the Maharishi. Then, over the weekend, we got the news that Brian Epstein [the Beatles' manager] had overdosed. John was devastated. I wish I'd gone on the retreat in India - not because I liked the Maharishi, because I didn't. Just to be there to hear Lennon's asides and to watch the whole thing unravel - because it did. I would have loved to be there for that. His legacy? It's hard to put into words. I mean, it's nothing, really: He just changed the face of popular music forever, didn't he?
I have a newborn son, so I've been listening a lot to Lennon's "Beautiful Boy." John wrote it for Sean, and it's a lovely song to a child. It's been bringing back all of those times for me, in the Sixties and Seventies, when the Beatles and Lennon meant so much. And with the election coming up, I'm reminded of how politics today could really use John Lennon - his truthfulness. He's needed.
I was watching Monday Night Football at the University of Missouri. Howard Cosell announced Lennon's death. He basically denounced the importance of the game and proclaimed that one of this generation's icons had been killed. In the band that most influenced music and, moreover, culture, he represented the rock & roll attitude of rebellion, dissatisfaction and social consciousness - the idea that we as people can expand our minds, grow, live together and love in peace. He tried to incorporate those ideals in his music and his life. His influence is everywhere - in every rock & roll singer-songwriter.
I was only five when he died. I just remember, when I discovered the Beatles, feeling sad because the one that I loved so much wasn't here. It was the early Eighties, and then I didn't listen to the Beatles for a few years after that. I really got into them again when I was sixteen, and it's been all I've listened to since then. That's when I really started falling in love with John Lennon. Every song he sings, I freak. I feel like I can't speak eloquently enough. Anything in life, whatever your question is for the universe, if you put on a John Lennon song, he will answer you. I think "Watching the Wheels" is the song I love the most, because it is so true. I completely feel like that song. I feel like sometimes he's saying that the people he's talking about are himself - himself looking at himself. And just how perfect a song it is for how we feel inside our own minds: We're trying to go on these paths that feel right and good to us, but we're always questioning how it's affecting others along the way. He gave everyone great music to be sad to and make love to and laugh to and drive to, and every sort of thing that you live in the world. If you put his music on to anything that you're doing in life, it fits right alongside of it. He was just the raddest.
I met Yoko Ono and Sean on my first tour. For my birthday one year, Yoko gave me one of John's shirts. It's black, one of those disco roller-skating shirts; he used to wear those tight, glittery shirts. Today, I think John would be doing some cutting-edge hardcore music. His first solo record is one of the most hardcore pieces of music ever recorded. And at the end of "Mother," when he's saying, "Mama, don't go, Daddy, come home," his soul is just spilling out, and it's so hardcore.
I was plowing the snow from my driveway in Montana in the morning, and I went inside and heard on the news that he had been shot the night before. I couldn't imagine why somebody would want to shoot someone who had done so much explaining of our lives through his art. I met the Beatles individually in 1965, then spent a couple of days with them. We took LSD at my house. I knew John was having trouble with me. We put on a movie of Jane's, and he was upset. There was too much Fonda going on: my dad, myself, my sister. But as the trip wore on, he became easier with me. I was right there with him the whole time. We ended up in the bathroom, in a big sunken tub - fortunately not filled with water - playing electric guitars that were amplified by the room, singing songs. Out of that experience came "She Said, She Said." John said in Rolling Stone that I had something to do with that song. I thought it was so far out that he had made something of it. He used the exact words [I said] to George, who thought he was dying during the acid trip. I had said, "I know what it's like to be dead." John and George are sitting at the table with me, and John says, "How do you know what it's like to be dead?" And I said, "I shot myself when I was a boy." But by accident. Everything was all right in my mind. Of course, it wasn't. Then I hear the song: "When I was a boy/Everything was right." I see Lennon's influence in my children. They think of "Imagine" as an anthem. How can you beat that? There's a generational zap there. The Beatles wrote these crowd-pleasing dance songs, which evolved into songs of our moments on this planet. Thank God we had him, that his essence didn't float by us to some other place. We got lucky.
I was lying on my bed watching Monday Night Football - it was Miami and the New England Patriots - when I heard the news. Howard Cosell broke the news. Apart from being very, very upset by the loss of someone whom I had met many times, the first thing that occurred to me was wondering how many songs we were never going to get to hear, that were working around in his head.
I'd been acquainted with John since about 1958, before the Beatles. The first time I actually met him was at the Cavern in Liverpool in, like, 1962, when the Hollies were playing on the same bill as the Beatles. John was always on the front edge - it's very much the same as what Neil [Young] does. All those incredible people are always on the front edge. And sometimes they fall, and sometimes they fly. John's legacy is that he gave as much dignity to the common man as he could. He stood for dignity and respect and songs that had a reason for being.
I don't remember where I was at the time. I just remember being very depressed, because I loved him very deeply. We were friends. I found him to be smart, acerbic, shrewd, witty and a good guy. He and the other Beatles were all very kind to us when we came over to England as the Byrds. They kind of took us under their wing, and from that point forward, we saw each other a lot. Whenever they came to the United States, I would go to the gigs and hang out with them. For me, John Lennon's legacy is his songs - all those brilliant, beautiful, incredible pieces of work. John was a very fierce guy - he wasn't a shy little human being. He was a guy with strong opinions, and he had no problem expressing them.
I remember the day John Lennon died. I was recording at Criteria Studios in Miami, making my Scissors Cut album. I was doing vocals that night, and the second engineer interrupted and said, "I have terrible news to tell you." I took a long pause, and I tried to carry on, and I failed, and I came into the control room, and I said, "That's it for tonight; I can't work. I can't speak - I don't know what to say." I knew him a little bit, and he was unbelievably engaging. At the Dakota once, after dinner, he pulls me into the bedroom, so I'm sitting on the end of his bed, and he says, "I want you to tell me about your work with Paul [Simon], because I understand you just recorded in Nashville together." We had just done "My Little Town." "I'm getting calls from my Paul," he said, "who's doing an Allen Toussaint project. And he wants to know if I'm available for the recording. What should I do?" Can you imagine how I felt? John Lennon asking me for my advice? I could have pinched myself at that moment, because it made me realize in a flash: No wonder he captivated the whole goddamned world - he's so commercial. He knew what to say to me that was connected and human and real and grounded and fascinating. And that's what he did with the whole planet earth. He was a hit record - his very being was like a hit. And I said to him, "John, I would do it because - put all personality aside and go with the fun of the blend. Make music with somebody you have made a sound with. A great pleasure is the thing to stick with." He didn't take my advice.
I blacked out where I was when I heard - I kind of just traveled in my mind to where it happened. I was so familiar with that spot, because I had lived in the building next door. There was a building that Carly Simon and James Taylor, the Beatles and Mick Jagger had lived in at various times, and it was right around the block. The whole area - and that building where John lived in particular - was very familiar territory. I imagine how safe he must have felt going in and out of there, because I know I did. Even though it had been years since I had lived there, it was kind of like finding out that it had happened to somebody on your block. The Beatles meant everything to me growing up, and John was part of that. I loved Lennon's persona. He knew who he was, and he knew what he represented to a worldwide public. John knew he had the floor; he knew he had to parlay that into something. I think he incited and inspired a whole group of youth to speak out and say what they felt.
I was in eighth grade when John Lennon died. The way I felt when I heard was similar to the way I felt when I was on a plane, and the plane was going to crash into the tarmac. We pulled out within the last second, and I said to myself, "That's weird." It was the same thing when he died. I remember thinking about New York and how fucked up it was. I remember he had that New York city T-shirt. I thought about the pornography of it - that he was shot in front of his wife. And the irony that he loved the city and felt comfortable there. Lennon put the punk rock in the Beatles and took off a lot of the sugar coating. He had such good sense. He wasn't always trying to explain himself, and so a lot of times he is misunderstood. He was a contrarian with goodwill.
Julia Baird (John's Sister)
"I had not seen John for years, but when he died it was like having an arm cut off. I can't explain my feelings, even to myself. During the following week I avoided the radio & television, although I could manage newspapers.
They weren't as emotionally demanding as a voice or picture going over John's life or, even worse, a re-run of an interview with John looking out from the television as if he was really still there. As for listening to any of his records, the very thought made me wince with pain."
Bob Batz Jr. (Dayton Daily News)
"When Lennon died, I lost a friend I've never met, a friend I've never talked to, a friend I've never seen in person, but a friend nevertheless."
"John Lennon was brilliant, so gifted, so giving. He was the Bach, Beethoven, the Rachmaninoff of our time."
"Since the time they had one of their first hits with Roll Over Beethoven, I've always felt very close to the Beatles. I fell as if I lost a little part of myself when John died."
"John used to joke around a lot. The funniest incident I remember occurred when I was an engineer on Mind Games at the record plant. John had taken the finished tapes of the album into the cutting room. When I walked in, loose tape was piled all over the place; John was sitting there with this sad face. I went out to the elevator, I guess to count to 100 or something, and John came running out. It had been a joke, and the tape all over the room was blank."
"Here's a nice story that comes to mind concerning my time with the Beatles. It was 1968 in India, we were all gathered together in the Maharishi's bungalow, four Beatles, one Beach Boy, Mia Farrow and me.
Maharishi was on the floor sitting cross-legged, but the rest of us were all still standing around as we'd just arrived. Anyway there was a kind of embarrassed hush in the room and John Lennon (always the funny one)
decided to break the silence so he walked up to the Maharishi, patted him on the head and quietly said, 'There's a good guru.' John certainly had a wicked tongue all right, but he was honest to a fault. Therefore, many people often considered him to be very hard and forward. Actually, that's how he protected his sensitivities, by saying exactly what he felt. As far as I'm concerned, he ranks up there with Kennedy, Martin Luther King and
Gandhi as a figure for peace in the world."
"John and the Beatles were doing things nobody was doing. Their cords were outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid. Everybody else thought they were for the teeny boppers, that they were gonna pass right away. But it was obvious to me that they had staying power: I knew they were pointing in the direction where music had to go."
"After all we went through together I had and still have great love and respect for him. I am shocked and stunned. To rob life is ultimate robbery. This perpetual encroachment on other people's space is taken to the limit with the use of a gun. It is an outrage that people can take other people's lives when they obviously haven't got their own lives in order."
"The first time I worked with John was in 1968, when I played electric piano on Revolution. He was real pleased with the way things went and told me there'd be a lot more sessions he'd be inviting me to. But I didn't see him again until 1971, at his home in Ascot, where he was recording Imagine. I reminded him of his comment and asked why I hadn't been invited to any more sessions. "Well Nick," he said, "we thought you were to involved with the Stones, and we were afraid to ask." If only I'd known that was the reason! Later that year, John and Yoko invited my wife and me to his birthday party. It was in Syracuse, New York, where Yoko's "This is not Here" art exhibition was being held, and John flew us there and back to California. He gave everybody silver zodiac necklaces, even though it was his birthday."
"I liked John a lot. He was the one I really got on with the most. We weren't buddy-buddies but we were always friendly. But after the Beatles and the Stones stopped playing clubs, we didn't see each other that much until he separated from Yoko, around 1974. We got really friendly again. And when he went back with Yoko, he went into hibernation ... when I went to visit someone in the Dakota, I'd leave him a note saying: 'I live next door: I know you don't want to see anyone, but if you do, please call.' He never did."
"John Lennon profoundly affected a generation. His music and that of the Beatles was worldwide in import. Every death by violence is a trauma to society. The death of someone of John Lennon's stature intensifies this trauma. We mourn his loss."
Leila (John's Cousin)
"Our poor long lost little cousin. At work he was a Beatle but at home always, always a brother. Our dear Judy's finally got him back at last."
"I would like to say how terribly upset we are at the sudden death of John Lennon. I have always had the deepest affection for John since the divorce and have always encouraged his relationship with Julian, which I thought was best. It came so suddenly. Julian remained very close to his father in recent years and is hoping to follow a career in music. He was looking to his father for guidance. Julian was hoping to see his father shortly."
"Now Daddy is part of God. I guess when you die you become bigger, a part of everything."
Yoko Ono Lennon
"... the only way you can better John is by copying him exactly."
"I have hidden my self in work today. But it keeps flashing in my mind. I feel shattered, angry and very sad. It's just ridiculous. He was pretty rude about me sometimes, but I secretly admired him for it, and I always managed to stay in touch with him. There was no question that we weren't friends, I really loved the guy. I think that what has happened will in years to come make people realize that John was an international statesman. He often looked a loony to many people. He made enemies, but he was fantastic. He was a warm man who cared a lot and with the record Give Peace A Chance helped stop the Vietnam War. He made a lot of sense."
"We have lost a genius of the spirit."
"First up John was always a good friend. He was never the abusive, aggressive guy some people made him out to be. When John was killed I think he was just hitting his peak, both as an artist and a human being. And that's the saddest thing of all isn't it? John's death."
"I can remember very distinctly every minute I spent in the studio with John; it was probably the greatest thrill of my career. He had amazing energy and electricity. He worked at a fast pace, and it spread to everyone else. He loved the record-making process as much as anyone in the business, and whenever he was in the studio, he was smiling."
"Forty is an early age to have to leave this planet, but as a performer, the way Lennon was killed is very frightening and tragic to me. He was truly one of the world's greatest musical innovators and I'm sure he'll be missed and mourned by many, especially those of us who are his peers."
"Chris Montez and I were headlining a tour of England and Scotland in 1963 and the Beatles were at the bottom of the bill, but they soon became the stars. It was a 30 day bus tour, all one-nighters. My first record, Sheila, was a hit in '62 but I had no real experience as a performer, while the Beatles had a lot of stage experience but no hit. When I met John, he told me the group used to sing Sheila at the Star Club in Hamburg, and I thought he was kidding until the "Live" album came out years later and Sheila was on it. He was inquisitive about the States, asking about my hometown, Atlanta, and everywhere else. He was a bundle of energy, always talking, always clowning. I have a photo of him backstage during the tour, and he's coming at me with his hands up like a claw, his glasses on crooked."
"Almost everyone who becomes famous ends up acting the way famous people act. It isn't so much that famous people want to act that way; they are forced into certain patterns of behavior. John Lennon was trying to act some way other than the way famous people act and people wouldn't let him."
"I first encountered John in England during the Let It Be period, when I took a bunch of pictures of him and Yoko in a basement. Being only twenty-one and an amateur; I overexposed the photos, but I got great pictures of Yoko. They liked them so much they asked me to take more, and I was surprised that someone of his stature would overlook my mistakes and give me another chance. Years later, I sent John some videotapes to show him what I had been up to and he asked me to shoot a promotion film for (Just Like) Starting Over that Yoko would direct and produce. Once, while we were shooting in Central Park, he laughed and said, 'This reminds me of Rubber Soul, only my face has fallen.' "
"John was one of the handful of true rock poets and his lyrics always bore the stamp of his unique mind. Listening to them now they seem unbearably poignant, full of other meanings now that he has gone."
"It was a staggering moment when I first heard the news. Lennon was a most talented man and above all, a gentle soul. John and his colleagues set a high standard by which contemporary music continues to be measured."
" I had a couple of conversations with John during the recording of the 'White Album' and I remember him being very busy and devoted to his craft. I watched him work on the two or three versions of Revolution and he was really intense. He believed very passionately about what he wrote. It was obvious that the song was a response to people making demands on him concerning his radical point of views, and you realized that by adulation of the group, we were making it more difficult for them to continue."
"John Lennon's death was a great tragedy. What the Beatles were doing for
kids was taking them off the streets and giving them a new interest in
"I first met John in March 1963, when the Beatles came down to see the Stones play in this dingy club called the Station Hotel in Richmond. They stood in line in their little leather coats and later came back to the flat; we stayed up all night talking about music and became good friends. John knew where he was going, and was very strong; he really got it together: Very determined."
Steven Spiro, the arresting officer for M-rk D-v-d CRapman:
"I used to see John Lennon walking the streets of West 72nd Street. Sometimes when I was working days, Iíd be working West 72nd and John would walk the streets with (son) Sean on his back on a little knapsack type of thing and go into the stores. Nobody would bother him. Heíd be very polite, 'Good afternoon, officer.' And thatís why he loved New York. Because people respected his privacy and thatís what was great about it. He loved it there."
Bob Gruen, Lennon photographer and friend, on the famous photo of John Lennon:
"I had given him that New York City shirt about a year earlier. And I used to wear them all the time. I was very proud of being from New York. And we were up on a rooftop taking pictures of his apartment. He had a penthouse apartment at the time. And we were taking pictures for his album cover. And then he suggested we take some more pictures so we have a lot of publicity photos available. And I remembered I had given him that shirt. And I said, 'Do you still have it? Because hereís the whole skyline of New York all around us.' And he knew right where it was, went and got it and put it on. And he just was comfortable being a New Yorker. And I suggested it because I knew he was really happy in New York and he really kind of described New York as the center of the world and said 'If I was living in the time of Rome, I would go to Rome. But Iím living in the time now, so Iíll be in New York.'
Dr. Stephen Lynn, who operated on John Lennon the night he died:
"I knew John Lennon, and Yoko Ono, and their son Sean were my neighbors. They lived two or three blocks away from me. Their favorite Japanese restaurant was my favorite Japanese restaurant, then at the corner of 69th and Columbus. My daughters grew up on sushi. And frequently, I would see John and Yoko sitting at the next table. In that era, as now, we didnít stop and say, 'Hey, youíre John Lennon.' We let them eat and enjoy themselves just as we did. Sean Lennon went to my daughterís school. Everybody knew that. No one thought anything about it. They were members of my community. They supported Thanksgiving Dinner at Project Find on 71St and Columbus. I was used to seeing John Lennon on the streets of my community.
I cried all night after learning of the murder at 11:30pm or so that night. Of course I didn't believe it at first. "What a cruel joke," I thought. More phone calls and the local FM radio stations confirmed the worse nightmare of my life. My hero, my surrogate father, the guy that had been in my life all those years was gone. The radio kept playing Beatle songs and I kept going into and out of tears. I lost a piece of myself, the world lost a Beatle, a generation lost their spokesman. I'm writing this in 2006 and it still doesn't seem real. © davidholmes Beatlesnumber9.com