John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman 41 years ago today

by Frank Beacham

Former Beatle John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980 — 41 years ago today.

For those who were listening to the radio on the evening of December 8, 1980, the news was probably broken by a disc jockey reading from the sketchy initial bulletin that came over the Associated Press newswire shortly after 11:25 p.m., eastern time:

“There’s a report that John Lennon has been shot. It happened in New York. On the Upper West Side.”

Mark David Chapman

In fact, Lennon had been declared dead some 10 minutes earlier in the emergency room of a Manhattan hospital — news that millions of Americans would receive, jarringly, from Monday Night Football announcer Howard Cosell, breaking into the regular commentary on that evening’s contest between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.

Said Cosell: “An unspeakable tragedy, confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City — John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City… shot twice in the back, rushed to the Roosevelt Hospital, dead on arrival.”

John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, were returning home from a transfer session at a midtown Manhattan recording studio at approximately 10:50 p.m. on this day in 1980 when they exited their limousine onto the West 72nd Street sidewalk just outside their apartment building, the Dakota.

On nearly the same spot some six hours earlier, Lennon had signed his autograph on a copy of his new album, Double Fantasy, for the man who would soon shoot him dead — Mark David Chapman.

In his statement to the authorities later that evening, the 25-year-old Chapman, whom police took into custody peaceably after finding him reading a copy of The Catcher in the Rye at the site of the shooting, said, “I’m sure the large part of me is Holden Caulfield, who is the main person in the book. The small part of me must be the Devil.”

A worldwide outpouring of grief and tribute followed John Lennon’s assassination, culminating in a 10-minute silent vigil on December 14 that saw some 100,000 people gather in New York’s Central Park and tens of thousands of others in cities around the world.

Of Chapman, who pled guilty to Lennon’s killing and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, Yoko Ono would later say:

“I don’t even want to think about him, and I usually don’t. Because it’s so irrelevant who pulled the trigger. That was not what was relevant. The fact that John’s gone is what we’re living with.”


John Lennon Newspaper

On December 8, 1980 — the day John Lennon was assassinated — Annie Leibovitz had a photoshoot with Lennon for Rolling Stone, and she promised him he would make the cover.

She had initially tried to get a picture with just Lennon alone, as Rolling Stone wanted, but Lennon insisted that both he and Yoko Ono be on the cover.

Photo: Annie Leibovitz

Leibovitz then tried to re-create something like the kissing scene from the couple’s Double Fantasy 1980 album cover, a picture Leibovitz loved, and she had John remove his clothes and curl up next to Yoko on the floor.

“What is interesting is she said she’d take her top off and I said, ‘Leave everything on’‍—‌not really preconceiving the picture at all,” Leibovitz recalled. “Then he curled up next to her and it was very, very strong. You couldn’t help but feel that he was cold and he looked like he was clinging on to her. I think it was amazing to look at the first Polaroid and they were both very excited.

John said, ‘You’ve captured our relationship exactly. Promise me it’ll be on the cover.’ I looked him in the eye and we shook on it.”

Leibovitz was the last person to professionally photograph Lennon‍ —‌ he was shot and killed five hours later.

Posted by Frank Beacham on December 08, 2021 

Source: Beacham Journal