In his life: A tribute to John Lennon
December 8th, 2010
12:08 PM ET

In his life: A tribute to John Lennon

John Lennon wanted us to imagine many things.

There was one thing, however, he never could have imagined: how the world would come together, distraught, while learning the news of his death. In fact, in his last interview before his murder, his comments were tragically ironic. In a December 5, 1980, interview for Rolling Stone, he complained about critics who he said were only interested in "dead heroes," something he had no desire to be, saying that he had "plenty of time" to accomplish some of his life goals.

"These critics with the illusions they've created about artists - it's like idol worship," he told the magazine. "They only like people when they're on their way up. … I cannot be on the way up again.

"What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean. I'm not interested in being a dead (expletive) hero. ...  So forget 'em, forget 'em."

But forget him, we would not.

Three days later, the Beatles front man was murdered on the steps of his New York apartment building. He and his wife, Yoko Ono, had just come home from an evening of recording tracks in their studio.

And in the years to follow, and 30 years ago Wednesday, Lennon is remembered exactly the way perhaps he had not wanted to be - as an idol.

Leading up to the anniversary, Vanity Fair even wrote a piece imagining where Lennon would be if he were alive today.

The anniversary of his untimely death marks a day of mourning for a whole generation. The cultural icon of their lives is gone. It's a day just about everyone who was alive remembers. One of those days where you recall exactly where you were when you heard the news.

During "Monday Night Football," Howard Cosell told Frank Gifford - off the air - that Lennon was dead. And in an ESPN video the two discuss how - and whether they should break the news to fans.

CNN's John Roberts, then a music journalist for City TV in Toronto, writes of the day, "It was one of those moments where time seems to slow down and the mind considers a hundred questions before finally settling on the truth: How could he have been shot? Are the reports mistaken? Who would do such a thing? How could we lose such a pop culture icon? Didn't he just turn 40? Didn't he have a young son? Didn't he have security?

"Will I wake up and this will all have been just a dream?"

Like Roberts, a few journalists shared their recollections of that fateful night and the roles they played in the coverage.

Jim Farber, a New York Daily News music critic, was a recent college graduate who was writing the record review column for Circus magazine when Mark David Chapman assassinated Lennon. He recalled hearing people talking about Lennon's death but dismissed it, until he saw the news. So he went to the scene where the music icon was gunned down.

"There were hundreds of people there, and they shut down parts of 72nd (Street) because there were so many people there," he said. "It was very emotional, if you could imagine, and I stayed there the whole night wandering around, talking to people and trying to get our heads around what had happened."

Ono, writing a column for The New York Times, however, chooses not to think of the day with unbearable sadness. Instead, she says she remembers the quiet moments she had with her husband and reflects on a night they shared laughter over a cup of tea.

"They say teenagers laugh at the drop of a hat. Nowadays I see many teenagers sad and angry with each other. John and I were hardly teenagers," she said. " But my memory of us is that we were a couple who laughed."

And she writes she hopes his legacy is not just in the words of his music, but in the work he did as well and his hope for peace.

"The most important gift we received from him was not words, but deeds. He believed in Truth, and had dared to speak up. We all knew that he upset certain powerful people with it. But that was John. He couldn’t have been any other way," Ono writes. "If he were here now, I think he would still be shouting the truth. Without the truth, there would be no way to achieve world peace."

Lennon indeed was a man who wanted to imagine - to imagine peace. Who wanted to help start a revolution to get us there.

So today, many fans around the world remember, and will as they gather Wednesday at Central Park's Strawberry Fields, how on December 8, 1980, what they couldn't imagine - that the man who gave them the words they lived by was gone.

And as he once sang, there are places we all remember.

"All these places had their moments, with lovers and friends, I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living. In my life I've loved them all."

And for Lennon fans, today is one of them. And without a doubt, they've loved every moment he created for them.

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Filed under: Celebrity • John Lennon • Music • Showbiz
soundoff (229 Responses)
  1. luke

    Peace ? How about reflect on the wonderful life he lead. What happened unfortunately happened; so lets appreciate all he has done for us. RIP John Lennon

    December 8, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jose

    Live Forever John Lennon!

    December 8, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeIsGod

      Yes, sure enough, he is living for ever, but not with the Lord.

      December 8, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • couldubanydumber?

      People remember Lennon for his talent. They won't remember you after you've been gone a day, HIGGY.

      December 8, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred


      There's nothing worse than a judgmental xian troll.

      "Religion, America's Only Legal Tax Scam"

      December 8, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Gadenare

    So Pearl Harbor get s a little side story on CNN, but John Lennon gets a whole week. Its sad when people find a simple musician more important that the event took the lives of thousands of americans.

    December 8, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. pat mc

    It's a pity that some [ most ]of our past and present "World Leaders" do not have John's insight and beliefs

    December 8, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Richard

    John Lennon made more contributions to humanity than did Jesus. Jesus, if he ever existed was a fine fellow, but not original. . Lennon did more.

    December 8, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeIsGod

      LOL, really? Jesus raised the dead, healed the sick and gave His life so the world through Him can be saved. Where is this dead hippie now, in hell, that is where he is!

      December 8, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • couldubanydumber?

      How do you know where anyone is, you arrogant little jerk? God must look at you and just cringe. You're just about the worst possible advertisement for Christianity there is. Please, do the real believers a favor and shut up. You're an embarrassment.

      December 8, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. HeIsGod

    He was an agnostic, and God really had no place in his life. The song "imagine" was his spiritual frankness coming forth. You are correct he has meet his maker and it is too late to change your beliefs when the maker meets you.

    @ chris – Too bad that Lennon didn't allow God to have place in his life.

    December 8, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • winston

      There are many who need no religion to do good things. But isn't it amazing how many religious people do bad things.

      December 8, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeIsGod

      So, this video is supposed to convince me that ONLY the religious people harm others???!!! LOL, get your head out of the sand, friend. Besides, I denounce religion just to have a relationship with Christ. There isn't a religion in heaven, only people who have given their lives to God through a "RELATIONSHIP" in Christs will inherit the kingdom of God.

      BTW, I really didn't bother looking at the video, thanks anyways!

      December 8, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • winston

      I have found that christians, religious or not, always seem to have much more to hide than atheists, agnostics, and apatheists. John was well-read with regard to religious beliefs. I have personally done the same and came to my own conclusions. However, unlike you, I do not try to force my beliefs upon others.

      It doesn't surprise me that you didn't watch the video. Too bad, it is actually quite clever. I discovered it through a YT video response for John's "more popular than jesus" apology. Anyway, it's your loss. Real Lennon/Beatle fans will enjoy it as much as I did.

      December 8, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. HeIsGod

    Earlier comment from:

    How do you know he met "his maker" Have you been there to report back? Just because he did not beleive in God does not been he "bashed God". And don't bring up the quote "The Beatles are more popular than Jesus". That was taken out of context. He meant that it was not right that the Beatles were more popular than God.

    @ Diana – I think that the one who is taking "The Beatles are more popular than Jesus" is you. We have many Atheists now using this statement. So, with that said, Jesus was raise after being crucified, nailed to the Cross of Calvary and He rose again on the 3rd day. So, where is this most popular than Jesus wanna be hippie now? Dead!

    December 8, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • couldubanydumber?

      Just like you'll be, you moronic twit.

      December 8, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ray gibbs

    Poet's rest dear times your gifts as silent chants across an endless wilderness.

    December 8, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jay

    the only good beetle is a dead beetle oh, we're not talking about b ugs?

    December 8, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tessa

    your words are as poignant and dear today as when you were with us. rest in peace dear one.

    December 8, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. napaulee9

    Right now I'm listening to John Lennon and reading all this stupid s**t laughing.... I bet that's what John would be doing!

    December 8, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steven

    Who cares!! The Beatles were the first boy band and then tried to kill that image by going hippy! I hate hippies. Real news please

    December 8, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • couldubanydumber?

      Steven, obviously you DO care, since you took the time to click on the article and comment here. What, is Rosy Palm busy with a banana?

      December 8, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      Actually I do not care, and yes you could not get any dumber. I clicked on the story just to leave this comment. I find the coverage beyond excesive, I mean for f#$% sake it was even on ESPN all day!! a sports channel alledgedly. And unlike you I have a life and a wife so no Rosy Palmer here. But glad to see you took time out from playing world of warcraft and diddling little boys in your grandmothers basement where you live.

      December 8, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • couldubanydumber?

      Sure, you don't care so much you actually had to come back here to see if anyone noticed your post. What a loser.

      December 8, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      And you are doing the same, so you are a loser and a troll. Granny needs a new depends, chop chop

      December 8, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • couldubanydumber?

      You seem to know a lot about grannies and Depends. Coincidence? I think not.

      If you are so disgusted with the coverage of Lennon's death, then why come here and yap about it? There's always some idiot like you who feels the need to broadcast your dislike of some story or another to the world. Do you really think anyone cares whether you like the article or not? Really? Because if so, I have a bridge to sell you.

      December 8, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      And there is always some inbred moron like you who thinks people want to hear your take on their opinion. Look up and down the board, all you do is comment on everyone elses opinions and tell them how dumb it is but you are to stupid to form your own opinion. You are a troll, and if you think people care about your take on their opinions I got some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you. Troll

      December 8, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alexander

      i think it's actually "TOO stupid to form an opinion."

      December 9, 2010 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  13. cas

    The reality is why do we care?? Yup Beatles were great, but Lennon was a jerk to his bandmates, was a mess, and cheated on his wife..not someone to look up to

    December 8, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      I agree. I don't dispute the man was a talented musician and songwriter, but he wasn't exactly made of worship material. By some accounts, he verbally and physically abused his first wife ... I've even read articles where he admitted to being physical with her. He went on to cheat on here, sure sure men and woman cheat, nothing new there...but the part I read where Cynthia was away and John invited Yoko to their house and Cynthia returned to not only find Yoko there, but lounging around wearing Cynthia's bathrobe. It's one (horrible) thing to cheat, but to invite another woman into the bed you share with your wife and then allow the tramp to wear your wife's clothes? It just doesn't get any more disrespectful than that. I've always thought of Yoko as a disgusting pig and tramp for doing that, never respected John for allowing it. Talented musician for sure, but not much of a man...certainly not worthy of worship.

      December 9, 2010 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Yes he was human. That doesn't diminish his incredible talent. That's what people are celebrating.

      December 9, 2010 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
  14. Amber

    Everyone thinks of Lennon as this super great person. Well he might have written some good songs, but he was AWOL as a father. He also was an adulterer. So while everyone does all the tributes to him, I think it important to remember the entire man. He certainly was not the "idol" the media and others make him out to be.

    December 8, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. PolarBear

    Read "Yoko and John: Forever Every Year" @

    December 8, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
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