John Lennon’s Death 29 Years Later


Time has a funny way of making us all so much smaller. I was born a fan of The Beatles. My dad saw them in Washington, D.C. in 1964 and their music is as much a part of my life as just about I can think of. I am old enough to remember (vaguely) rumors and fantasies of their reunion. John and Paul sightings were breathlessly reported in tabloids and rock magazines (the leather-clad equivalent of tabloids). That of course was dashed when Mark David Chapman killed John Lennon in cold blood in front of the Dakota building in New York City. The world stopped. Howard Cossell reported it just minutes later on Monday Night Football.

CNN Contributor Bob Greene puts all that, and the time since past, into stark perspective with an essay marking 29 years since Lennon’s death.

To anyone in this city, in this country, in this world, who is younger than 32 or 33 years old, the memory of Lennon is of a man who has always been dead. The murder was past tense by the time people who are now that age first became aware of his name.

The Dakota, in its own way, may be, to them, like Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., or the triple underpass in Dallas. A place where something terrible happened, yes, but something terrible that happened in history, not in the recollected narrative of their daily lives.

Long ago John Lennon had been elevated to martyred saint and now he enters the long, dark hallway of history. Godspeed, John.

Video: ABC Nightline – on Death of John Lennon – December 8, 1980

Video: Paul McCartney’s Initial Reaction to News of John Lennon’s Death

Video: Later Paul McCartney Cries After John Lennon’s Death

Previously: How Many Years? (2007)

4 thoughts on “John Lennon’s Death 29 Years Later”

  1. The LA Times republishes Lester Bang’s original Lennon obit. It’s a bummer of an article:

    “I don’t know which is more pathetic, the people of my generation who refuse to let their 1960s adolescence die a natural death, or the younger ones who will snatch and gobble and shred, any scrap of a dream that someone declared over 10 years ago.”

  2. I was 16 years old in 1980, and John Lennon’s murder was incredibly hard for me accept and angered and depressed me for a long time. But yes, you can do the math and see that that 1980 is as distant in time from many people alive today as Buddy Holly’s death in 1959 is from me. And I wasn’t even old enough to know The Beatles when they were active from 1962-70. And I’ll be gone in 20 years or so too, and soon after that there won’t be anyone alive who remembers the day John Lennon was killed or any days before that. And then the sun will burn out and the world will end, so all we can do is listen to old songs and toast to artistic giants of long ago in the brief moments we have left alive.

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