“You are all geniuses, and you are all beautiful. You don’t need anyone to tell you who you are. You are what you are. Get out there and get peace, think peace, live peace, and breathe peace, and you’ll get it as soon as you like.”
At around 10:50 pm On December 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon in the back four times at point-blank range as he approached the entrance of his home at the Dakota apartments in New York City. John was taken to the emergency room of nearby Roosevelt Hospital but pronounced dead on arrival at 11:07 pm. The dream was over.
Chapman pled guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life. He remains in prison and has been repeatedly denied parole.
John’s body was cremated. Accounts vary as to what his widow Yoko has done with his ashes.
Two days before his death John told an interviewer that he felt he could go anywhere in New York City and feel safe. When asked how he thought he might die he replied “I’ll probably be popped off by some loony.”
In an interview hours before his murder, Lennon said “I’ve always considered my work one piece whether it be with Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John, or Yoko Ono. And I consider that my work won’t be finished until I’m dead and buried and I hope that’s a long, long time.”
I was 12 on that fateful night. I had just returned home from confirmation class. I would always turn on the cabinet radio in my Grandma’s basement when I got settled in. I heard the news most likely soon after it broke. I was devastated. I had been listening to the Beatles since I knew what music was and loved John best. I called my best friend Dee Dee, distraught. Her Mom said that it was a little late for a phone call. I explained to her that John had been shot. She made an exception. My Mom had just bought Double Fantasy for my sister and me and I had been playing it over and over again. This could not be happening. It was the first time in my young life that death had touched me personally. He was a part of me and will always be.
“For our last number, I’d like to ask your help. The people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, just rattle your jewelry.” John, during the Royal Variety Performance in London (4 November 1963) attended by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and Princess Margaret. John had intended to say “****ing jewelry”, but was persuaded against doing so by Paul McCartney and the group’s manager Brian Epstein.
“I suppose if I had said television was more popular than Jesus, I would have gotten away with it. I’m sorry I opened my mouth. I’m not anti-God, anti-Christ, or anti-religion. I wasn’t knocking it or putting it down. I was just saying it as a fact and it’s true more for England than here. I’m not saying that we’re better or greater, or comparing us with Jesus Christ as a person or God as a thing or whatever it is. I just said what I said and it was wrong. Or it was taken wrong. And now it’s all this.” During a news conference in Chicago, where he apologized for the above statement, which was accepted by the Vatican. (11 August 1966)
“That’s part of our policy, is not to be taken seriously, because I think our opposition, whoever they may be, in all their manifest forms, don’t know how to handle humor. You know, and we are humorous, we are, what are they, Laurel and Hardy. That’s John and Yoko, and we stand a better chance under that guise, because all the serious people, like Martin Luther King, and Kennedy, and Gandhi, got shot.” As quoted in BBC interview with David Wigg (8 May 1969)
“The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.” Interview for KFRC RKO Radio (8 December 1980)