John Lennon Was Murdered On This Date in 1980

As heard on Milestones in Rock at 3pm on 93.7 the River: 

John Lennon was murdered out in front of his apartment building in New York, after coming home from a recording session on this date in 1980.

Mark David Chapman was the killer. He had his album autographed by Lennon just six hours earlier, with Lennon saying, “is that all you want?” 6 hours later, Chapman was waiting and shot Lennon six times. Even though Roosevelt Hospital was just 11 blocks away from the Dakota, Lennon died on arrival.

Many found out from Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football. Jay Cocks of Time magazine wrote "The outpouring of grief, wonder and shared devastation that followed Lennon's death had the same breadth and intensity as the reaction to the killing of a world figure: some bold and popular politician, like John or Robert Kennedy, or a spiritual leader, like Martin Luther King Jr.

This was a Beatle which might as well have been royalty. And why him? This stunned the world.

Chapman later claimed, "If you were able to view the actual copy of 'The Catcher in the Rye' that was taken from me on the night of Dec. 8, you would find in it the handwritten words 'This is my statement.'" Holden Caulfield, the main character in the novel “seemed to be lost and troubled. Said Chapman. And in my state of mind at that time I kind of felt I kind of was him.”

Several shootings have been associated with Salinger's novel, including John Hinckley, Jr.'s assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.

In later interviews with the parole board, Chapman stated that he “has a sociopathic mind” and killed the Beatle because he wanted to be famous and wanted the attention.

And it could have been one of many celebrities that he was jealous and angry with…due to their wealth and fame. Johnny Carson and George C Scott were on Chapman’s list. Chapman even got front-row seats to a Broadway play featuring Scott and thought about shooting him.

Chapman simply grew angry as the night wore on, looking at the opulent Dakota building that Lennon lived in. Chapman says it had nothing to do with Lennon’s politics, or because he was in The Beatles.  

The eerie image that photographer Annie Leibovitz took that ended up on the cover of Rolling Stone weeks later, of a naked Lennon embracing a clothed Yoko Ono was taken the morning of the murder. It was named in 2005 as the top magazine cover of the last 40 years.

Derek Moore


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