9th December 1980


John Lennon 1968 by Ayd Instone

My drawing of John by me aged 16

We were getting ready to go to school one cold Tuesday morning. We had the radio on, which was on most mornings. Beatle songs were playing. I think it was my Mum who said it first, “John Lennon’s been shot”.  It was 9th December 1980. I was nearly 10. I listened in for details. Was he going to be ok? What had happened? John had been in the news recently anyway as he’d just released a new LP and single after being hidden away for five years.

Then it was made clear. He was gone. My eyes welled up. I’d been a bit choked when Elvis had died three years earlier, but that was more of just picking up on the cultural feel that was around and watching the news. This was personal. I didn’t want to go to school. It didn’t seem right. Especially as they were playing non-stop Beatles and John’s tunes all day on the radio.

So I went to school on that cold and damp day, depressed and sad, with the tune of Woman playing in my head, thinking about Sean Lennon who was five years younger than me and wondered what he must be thinking.

In 1979 Beatlemania gripped me and my mates as the BBC broadcasted all the Beatles films: A Hard Days Night, footage of the Washington gig in 1964, the 1965 Shea Stadium concert, Help!, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine and Let it Be. (This was the last showing to date for Shea Stadium and Let it Be.) It was amazing. My friend Sean and I formed a band, calling it the Bronze Beatles. I had got a guitar the previous Christmas but couldn’t play yet and we made a drum kit from chocolate boxes, drew guitars and sang songs from Help! (Sean’s Dad had the LP). I wanted nothing more than to be a Beatle and live in Help!

That Christmas my brother and I got a tape recorder for Christmas. We had two blank tapes. I filled them up by recording my dad’s Beatle LPs and singles by placing the take recorder as close to the record player’s speaker as possible and telling my brother to be quiet.

In January 1980 my Mum and Dad hosted a Burns night super. My Dad had got some Highland music records and he wanted them on cassette tape to play in the stereo system they’d borrowed. He had to tape over my copy of Help! It would be five years later later before I’d saved up enough money to buy my own vinyl copy. But my Dad got me a tape of the Beatles Rock ‘n’ Roll Music volume two to make up for it which gave me some new songs I’d never heard before such as I’m Down, Any Time at All and the brilliant Hey Bulldog.

Up until then I’d only had access to a few Beatles tunes. My Dad had three Beatle LPs and I inherited (or rather, I sneaked out of his collection and into mine). There was Beatles for Sale (their 4th LP from late 1964), With the Beatles, their 2nd LP, from 1963 and Revolver, their 7th, from 1966. He also had the EP Twist and Shout which contained four songs stripped away from their first LP, Please Please Me and the singles She Loves You, I Want to Hold Your Hand and Day Tripper/We Can Work it Out.

My Dad had a Bush single speaker mono record player. It played 45s, 33&1/3s and 78 rpm records. You could stack up a few singles on the spindle and it would play one and then another would drop into place.

John Lennon 1968 by Ayd InstoneI discovered the record player at a very early age and rifled through my Dad’s collection of records. He had a handful of singles, most from the early sixties. Quite a few LPs, mostly Johnny Mathis, Herb Albert, the odd Sinatra and Dylan plus a bit of classical. I ignored all these. I was drawn to those four faces that stared out at me from the gatefold cover of Beatles for Sale. I knew that they were the same faces as those on With the Beatles. I found out they were called John, Paul, George and Ringo, but there was nothing on the sleeve to say which was which so I had to guess. My mind worked out that since they looked younger on With the Beatles and that it was in black and white, it must be the first album, perhaps preceded by Twist and Shout – also in black and white, but smaller. Then must come Beatles for Sale because that was in colour and a gatefold. But what about Revolver? That was in black and white but looked quite odd. The music was slightly different too. It was 1973. I was nearly 3. I surmised that With the Beatles was the past, Beatles for Sale was the present and Revolver was from the future.

An earlier thought I had about the Beatles was that my Dad was John Lennon. The evidence was the photo on Twist and Shout looked just like him and the message of We Can Work it Out  I felt expressed he ethos of my Dad. That was obviously a short lived theory.

It wasn’t until around 1976 that I found out that the Beatles weren’t still together. The re-issue singles were in the chart, as was Lennon’s solo Stand By Me and Imagine singles. From that point, like every other Beatle fan in the world, I’d been hoping and longing for that reunion.

John Lennon, 1974

John Lennon, 1974

John Lennon, 1967

John Lennon, 1967

Years later we learnt that John had planned to visit the UK in early 1981 and the four Beatles had agreed upon a reunion recording, perhaps a performance too, that year and had sworn secrecy on the details. All hope was dashed with the news on that December day.

I’ve read loads of accounts of the Beatles and their lives in the hundreds of books published on the topic. There is a strange feeling reading the details of that fateful day, about John’s sessions at the Record Plant studio, of the killer’s meeting with Lennon earlier in the day where he signed a copy of Double Fantasy (there’s a photo of the two of them together). As I read the details and it all becomes more and more real I start to feel as though I can change the outcome somehow, as if the history of has not been decided. I meet John outside the recording studio and urge him not to go home straight away that night, then I wait near the Dakota building as dusk falls and spot the killer, tackle him, call the police, anything.

But history doesn’t work like that. It felt as though there was so much more of the Beatles story to tell, so much more songs to come. As it must be the same as with anyone who loses someone, anyone, it feels as though we’re cheated by being given an alternative, grimmer history that the one we were promised. People older than me have said that the Sixties finally ended that day and the dreams of their youth were over. You can mourn a man you never met if what he stood for was an important personal idea. It was that idea that died that night.

John Lennon 1965 by Ayd InstoneSome people say the Beatles, and Lennon, aren’t important. They’re wrong. Derek Taylor described them as ‘the 20th Century’s greatest romance’ and he’s right. We still don’t know why or how it all happened, but it did, and for a short while, many, many people in the world shared something. It represented probably the last great collective memory, a potent beam of optimism, hope and fun, that touched so many lives in so many ways.

On 8th December 1980 the world was reminded that we are all mortal, ugly, vicious, spiteful and powerless. But there is still hope. We can still put on a Beatle record and find that the magic is still there, divorced from time and space, separated from the mortal men that created it.

There IS joy to be sought and cherished in life no matter what undesired twists and turns we face.

Creativity and the Beatles

This is adapted from my forthcoming book, Creativity and the Beatles.

Read more here.

Ayd Instone works with people to explore and unlock their creative ideas in ways they may never have thought possible, to inspire innovation in their lives, and their business.

Book Ayd to speak about the Power of ‘What If?’ and Inspiration for Innovation at your conference, or in your business. A great way to open your event or as an after lunch energiser.

For more interesting info see: www.aydinstone.com


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179 comments on “9th December 1980

  1. The Beatles have had a tremendous impact on people throughout the world. George Vlosich III of Cleveland, Ohio recently created a remarkable piece of Etch a Sketch artwork for display during Art Basel in Miami, Florida, which contained some of the most prestigious artwork from across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. George has been an avid Beatles fan since his father George Jr. instilled their music into his life. George III has a remarkable talent and has previously done Beatles pieces, but his newest piece focused on Paul McCartney. Although the Beatles were artists in one sense, their impact is so great, that it has evoked inspiration throughout all art forms.

    Take a look at George’s unbelievable Etch a Sketch artwork at: http://gvartwork.wordpress.com/

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    • I take that as the greatest compliment. I believe that if we get the writing right – the subject matter doesn’t matter, if we can tap into the emotions that make us human. That’s what I try to do, so thank you very much.

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      • So, if you don’t “get” the Beatles, than it’s a problem? Maybe she “gets” someone else instead. Everyone isn’t going to be a Beatles fan. Can’t do anything about it.

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      • I grew up in the womb listening to the Beatles. They are not my favorite group. But they are The Main base for all music created after 1965…ALL. Any genre, any artist. It is so interesting to listen to music today and hear rifts, runs and lyrics that are 100% Beatle’s originated. Mikalee says she doesn’t “get” the beatles. but deep down, if she loves any music newer than 1970, she gets it. She may not realize it, but she gets it. I never “got” The Doors, but I can still appreciate the impact on music they have had. What a wonderful tribute to four people and one in particular who had such influence onver an entire era. Congrats on FP! Well deserved!!!! AmberLena

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      • Hi Irishnational, I’m a huge beatle fan but I can’t agree with your appointment. One of the most beautiful things in life is that we may have different tastes or whatever. She doesn’t get The Beatles, so what? That’s great! You get them, I get them, she doesn’t and there are millions of people who don’t get them and there’s nothing to criticise niether complain about. Imagine if all the people only like chocolate ice-cream (that is the most of the most) what a bored world it’d be.

        By the way, aydinstone, this post is beautiful. I was 15 when it happened and, as you said, the world changed that day. Very deep post. Thank you for this.

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    • “Getting” music can be an acquired thing. For the first half of my life I didn’t “get” classical music: Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven, Bach, etc. etc. Then out of sheer curiosity I began to read about and purchase discs of classical music. The “OH! NOW I GET IT!” moment came when i was listening to Mozart’s Requiem. A haunting, stunning profound piece of work! From that point on, I got deeper and deeper into classical music, subscribed to the Vancouver Symphony Society. Now there’s no going back. Changed my life forever.
      Mikalee, why don’t you pick up a few good books about the Fab Four, watch a few videos, and buy some of their music? ( I suggest the Anthology series of videos, if you can afford them, [or the book] to get the whole picture.)
      If, after that, you still don’t get it, then I’m afraid I have to agree with Irishnations – you ain’t got no taste, lady!

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  2. I often wonder how much better the world would have been were John still here. As an amateur musician I continue to study and play his music always come to the same place….with the realization that he was truly a genius. I am a product of the sixties and feel so lucky that I was growing up at that time and able to experience John’s legacy 1st hand.
    Thank you John so much. You will always be missed.

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  3. I always thought it was a shame that he was robbed of the opportunity to sort of come to grips with his life. He was smart as a whip, capable of achieving serenity, and interested in doing so — and the chance to get it got taken from him. I also feel for his oldest son, who I think was robbed of a needed reconciliation with his father. I was quite young when he was killed, 14 or so, but I do recall thinking that it was just wrong that he was killed just as he seemed to have gotten his feet under him in so many ways.

    And of course they’re important. Music doesn’t stick around for that long unless it’s important.

    Damned fine musician.

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    • Ah! That’s the REAL question isn’t it. Interesting that you’ve posed it in the present tense indicating perhaps that Lennon IS still with us in some incorporeal form, via the music, his image and our own memories and beliefs.

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      • You’ve hit on something there…

        I also want to see Paul work with Dylan. They keep talking about it. Keith Richards said he wanted to record with Paul. Ronnie Wood guested on Paul’s stage last week.

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  4. Outstanding post about your reflection on that sad day of 31 years ago – which seems so long ago, yet not so for those impacted. The Beatles were ahead of their time, but now only two remain … and someday one … then none. But with the recordings, they will leave for many years ahead.

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  5. I was 15 when I received the news about John Lennon’s death and felt devastated. I did not stay home from school, but I wandered through the halls zombie-like. I too hoped for a Beatles reunion. The blow felt personal, not that I was raised on John Lennon, but I had just rediscovered The Beatles so it hurt to watch the television footage of a musician killed by an insane man’s bullets. When I listened to Imagine I would break down into tears.

    Thanks for your post. It’s beautifully written and expressed.

    Patricia

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  6. very nice. i was a fan of the beatles however i was and still am a bigger rolling stones fan. back in the day the saying went, ‘are you a beatle or a rolling stone?’ rolling stone. nice blog though. RIP john.

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    • It was brilliant irony that Mick wanted desperately to be a Beatle and John wanted to be a Stone. The fact that they were all great friends and secretly appeared on each others sessions (Yellow Submarine, Day in the Life and We Love You) is brilliant. They also liaised wit each other to interlock their releases so as to not compete for the top chart spot with each other. I love them all.

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  7. Such a great read. At the age of 21 I am a massive Beatles and John Lennon fan, all thanks to my dad. I even have a Lennon lyric tattooed on my arm. I believe that this man stood for something extremely important and is to this day, sorely missed. Congrats on being freshly pressed, you deserve it!

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  8. One of the dates in my life, when I rmemeber where I was. perhaps the Kennedy mlment for some of us. In the end, he was a good guitarist, great ‘hook’ wrtier, and a fair singer. His message ie way too simple for many of today’s corporate thinkers. if he was alive, he’d probably be a Judge on American Idol

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    • If I dare be so bold… I’d like to think that if he was alive, and what he and the Beatles and all the bands of the 60s and 70s believed in, was still alive, there wouldn’t BE American Idol, because there wouldn’t be a need for it… All the great rock and pop acts of the 60s and 70s made it through continued hard work and continued support from the music industry who wanted acts to grow and develop. Now it seems they want the quick fix and the talent contest is a way to short cut the process to make a quick buck with no thought on longevity.

      There’s always been a bubblegum aspect to pop, but for a short while its flame flickered brightly and it became art too.

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  9. I had just rediscovered The Beatles so it hurt to watch the television footage of a musician killed by an insane man’s bullets. When I listened to Imagine I would break down into tears. I was quite young when he was killed, 14 or so, but I do recall thinking that it was just wrong that he was killed just as he seemed to have gotten his feet under him in so many ways.

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  10. George III has a remarkable talent and has previously done Beatles pieces, but his newest piece focused on Paul McCartney. Although the Beatles were artists in one sense, their impact is so great, that it has evoked inspiration throughout all art forms.

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  11. Wonderful post ..I’m a huge huge Beatles fan myself ..I’m just 19 but everytime I see posts like this , I wish I was born during ‘their’ time .. It is indeed very sad that John is dead.. That too at a very young age .. The frustrating thing about this whole thing is that he was dead for no reason.. I console myself watching his songs and videos.. Hard day’s night is one of my favourite films ,btw 🙂 🙂

    P.S: You have such a gift of drawing .. It looks amazing .. Kudos.

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    • I was born just after they split. But we are both still in the Beatle Age. There will come a time when there will be non left alive who knew or saw them and yet they will still be here. In a receipt poll in the UK, they were voted second only to Shakespeare as the nation’s most proud of contributors to history.

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  12. Still, to this day I cannot stand to listen to his socialist anthem, “Imagine.”
    I think it is ironic that after John Lennon dies it comes out that he was actually a closet capitalist.
    As far as the Beatles music…Over rated. It wasn’t until they separated that any one of them created anything worth mentioning.

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    • Lennon, like all of us, was more complex than the media suggested, and, was a flawed human being, just like the rest of us. He went from having no money to having too much in a very short space of time. He had strong socialist principles (and got heavily involved in anti-capitalist and communist movements) but was in many ways trapped by the web the Beatles machine had created. As for imagine, it’s juts a song with a haunting melody and interesting lyrics. It’s US that have made it into an anthem. In the UK it wasn’t even released as a single. In context, it’s more interesting than you may give credit for as it and the LP it is on, reveals the paradoxes Lennon was facing (and we all face): love and hate, anger and joy. If you have time, read this post about it: https://aydinstone.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/imagine/

      And I’m glad your giving just appreciate to some of the solo Beatle work such as Ringo’s ‘Beaucoup of Blues’, George’s ‘Gone Troppo’, Paul’s ‘Press to Play’ and John’s ‘Mind Games’ – proving that apart they created varying quality but together they created the best of the genre. You may not like it, but you can’t ignore it.

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  13. we all miss John, for his music and for who he was.. The Beatles were wonderful, and still is today, but the golden generation of music has past the world by and we probably would never get another Beatles or John again. John lives on with his music.

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  14. At the time of Johns death I was only 14 myself. I remember it as a sad day. IT was not until years later that I really learned all of the work John had done. My favorite songs were starting over, and Imagine.

    Thanks for your post on this subject a good tribute.

    Rock on

    Tim

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  15. Great post about the day and your relationship with it. The Beatles were such a force in generating and pushing the boundaries of music and still are today. They achieved so much with just four tracks. The challenge for music makers today is to restrict their armoury and still achieve that magic. “…..and we all shine on….”

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  16. I wasn’t even alive when John Lennon’s life was tragically cut on 8th December 1980 (I was born 3 years and 8 days later). Love his music since I was little and he is a talented singer-songwriter. Secondly, it has been 31 years since he passed away and sometimes I cannot help but wonder what if he didn’t get shot and lived to see 71 years old this year. But then again, he left a lasting legacy for us. So did The Beatles.

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  17. Most excellent Post! I expect you, and your visitors today, would like the Norwegian Wood cafe in Glen Fern Road, in downtown Bournemouth, England, if you ever visit. Painted copies (by an artist who traded his work for eats) of Beatles photographs are mounted upon the walls. The pictures are fun. The food is good. And the people who run the place are just great.

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  18. Sorry, I realize from reading the other Comments, that I should have declared my generational status. John was born ten days after me (and about 150 kilometers to the west of where I was). The Battle of Britain had just finished.

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  19. Many congratulations on being Freshly Pressed – and even more for keeping up with your replies to comments as you’ve done thus far!

    I’m a baby boomer, but I didn’t have an especial passion for the Beatles. I preferred the rawer sound of the Stones – not that it was a contest, they were, simply, different. What I did realize at the time, though, was the huge social impact they were making. Elvis had been the last, huge musical phenomenon, but since he left the US only to service in the armed forces his impact was minimalized by Tom Parker. The Beatles were the loudest voice of our generation (though not, obviously, the only one, and I speak of them collectively as one voice), and John was, despite what anyone would like to think, the soul of the group. I would like to think that the world would have been a better place had he lived, but I would like to think that the world would have been a better place had JFK lived too – as you say, it doesn’t work that way, though.

    I disagree that they were “the last great collective memory” – Princess Di was, whether one liked her or not. Musical memory? Yes.

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    • Great stuff, thanks. Yes, Diana was a collective memory, but more so of really just a few moments: the wedding, the split, her death. Whereas the Beatles events are more interwoven in a generation’s lives over a longer period: live shows like the Palladium, TV like Ed Sullivan, Beatlemania in the press, the movies, the no-so-good press of drugs, John and Yoko, the split.

      But the most powerful memories are us listening to the hits or the radio or buying and playing those records for the first time, and how they link to where we were, how we felt, who we were with. So many touch points.

      Which is why a big psychology experiment to test mass memory was set up by the university of Leeds using The Beatles as the cornerstone. It’s called The Magical Memory Tour: http://www.magicalmemorytour.com/magicalmemorytour.html

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  20. Oh! Awesome! Being born in ’63, I missed Beatle mania, but my very musical sister was 13yrs older than me. She played a flute quite well and forced me to listen to her sounding out (easy for her) just about every song on every album that came out AND learn the words. Try to visualize a preschooler singing ‘I wanna hold your hand’. I’m quite sure it wasn’t pretty.
    In the early 70s, my oldest sister’s husband had my nephew and I singing ‘Hey, Jude’ accapela. We had to practice until we got it right and ALWAYS fought about who got to scream ‘JUDI JUDI JUDI JUDI!’.
    The beatles were a big part of my life, happily so, since early chilhood and their music and the music of the members even after the break-up actually helped shape my life and how I look at it. The love songs (and others) of McCartney and Wings were there for every school girl crush and teenage rebellion. John Lennon’s philosophies and honesty in his music just makes a person stop and think ‘Hey, if we could all just GET IT, the world would be such a friendly place!’ The haunting songs of George Harrison after his India travels, then his contributions to other groups and bands (the Travelling Wilburys) just never let us forget how human we are.
    It is so great that you took such care to preserve the original 45s and vinyls. My brother-in-law was a D.J. in the early 70s and had all these NOT FOR SALE 45s. Through the years, they got ruined and lost in our many moves and travels. Looking back I am like ‘WHAT WERE WE THINKING?’ But then how could we as kids know that Vinyl would be extinct and D.J. 45s were important? Well, you did!
    GREAT JOB!

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  21. Thanks for the story. I was 13, and did not know much of the Beatles, but John’s murder left me sad, and wondering what could have been.

    On their own, my boys have become Beatles fans after I used the rooser from “Good Morning, Good Morning” to rouse them from their beds one morning. They wanted to know where the sound effect came from, and decided to listen to the whole Sgt. Pepper album. They are confused by John’s murder, and I have trouble explaining it to them, I have trouble understanding it myself, but I am thankful for the music.

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    • They loved Buddy! Their 2nd ever recording was ‘That’ll be the Day’ although only one Holly song made it onto a Beatles LP, Words of Love on Beatles for Sale. Buddy Holly was the first real pop singer songwriter and was a direct inspiration to the Beatles, so much so, when George Martin (producer who signed them) demanded they record and release a stock song ‘How Do You Do it’ as their first single – they refused – demanding instead they use their own composition, ‘Love Me Do’ and with that changed the direction of pop from artistes to artists as all the emerging bands starting following in their footsteps by writing their own material.

      Years later, Paul bought the publishing catalogue of Holly’s songs. There couldn’t be a safer pair of hands.

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  22. I don’t vividly recall John Lennon’s death, but I distinctly remember Elvis Presley’s. I remember riding in the car with my mom on a really hot day when I was about 4. She must have heard about his death on the radio. She drove to the field my dad was working in and told me to run to the tractor and tell him Elvis had died. I had no idea who he was or why she was crying.

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  23. Great post! I too remember that December 9th morning well. Like you I woke to the sounds of the Beatles playing on the radio. I was so happy because that morning was my 21st birthday, and I thought it was the universe’s way of celebrating that by getting to wake to the music I loved so much. When I heard the DJ say that John had been shot and killed the night before, it took my breath away. I had more people call me that day to say they were sorry than wish me a happy birthday.

    Although George was always my favorite Beatle, John was a very close second. I miss their talent tremendously and am thankful that I still have their music to listen to.

    Thanks for the post and congrats on being fresh pressed.

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  24. Great post! You nailed the Beatles-love man! While reading this blog it did feel like they lived again for a while.
    Such a pity that such a collective love/memory is non-excisting in this new world we live in….

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  25. Hard to believe it’s been that long since we lost John.

    It takes me back, reading about how you taped your dad’s 45s and LPs by positioning your tape recorder next to the record player.

    “Yes, we all shine on … like the moon, the stars and the sun …”

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  26. George was my teen heart-throb, but I like John more and more as the years go by. I remember the day, too, where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news, in the same way I remember JFK being shot, Bobby K, MLK (all those K’s!), the day the Challenger came down, and the Twin Towers. They aren’t directly comparable, but each defined a turning point for millions of people in terms of the way they view the world, the future, and their/our place in it. It all adds up to a big feeling of loss if I focus on it too much! Better to think of them all as reminders to live every day.

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    • Sorry, no, it was definitely the 9th when I woke up on the 9th as mentioned in the post. Lennon died on the eighth but I heard about it on the 9th which is where my story starts. Have another read and you’ll notice it was the 9th.

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  27. I love Beatles. I believe I was influenced much by my dad’s interest on them. He had a bunch of CDs of them that I used to listen to. I grew up learning to play the guitar by strumming their songs too.

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    • It’s funny to think that Lennon never ever saw a CD. (They were invented in 1983), although he was, along with the other Beatles, the first in the UK to have a cassette tape recorder and one of the first to ever play music in a car (his Rolls had a turntable fitted).

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  28. I’m a young person who officially became a Beatles fan this year after adding sixteen more Beatles songs on my ipod. Before that, I only had six songs. I was too lazy to look up more songs because they have so many albums. Then I saw the “Strawberry Fields” scene from the film Across the Universe via the Beatles Facebook page (I may not have been a fan at the time, but I still liked them so I liked them on there). That scene made me want to watch the rest of the movie so I got it on DVD. Once I saw it, it became a favorite and also urged me to look up more Beatles songs. I got most of the songs from the movie as well as a few songs that I listened to and liked as I looked up albums. Not long after that, I also saw “A Hard Day’s Night” and read a huge Beatles biography to learn more about them.

    Also, I’m happy to say that the song “Blackbird” inspired one of my best poems this year. The Beatles are one of my favorite bands and in my opinion, the greatest band ever.

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  29. Wonderful article! As a Beatlemaniac born on December 8th, 1982, that’s probably the saddest date I can think of! In fact, some people knowing I’m a Beatles fan sometimes ask me if I get depressed having a birthday on that date. Well, I experienced my first Beatlemania when I was 12 and I can tell you that the first time I learned of when he died, I was devastated! As time has gone on though, I’ve learned to live as all fans have and I do my best to think of him. However, I’ve watched the tv clips and heard the radio broadcasts, as well as reading all the material on John’s death (some called it an assassination), but, I just cannot imagine having to be alive to hear something like that. How awful it must have been for you and thousands of fans out there in a state of disbelief and shock. It’s inspiring to me to know what an impact the Beatles’ had on your life, as they did in mine, and I applaud you!! Thank you for this piece.

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  30. Great stuff. Brings back memories, to put it mildly. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one; I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be one. Unforgettable lines from a song-writer and musician who will live forever. Just for the record, he was listed one among the ten greatest Britons who ever lived, anytime.

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  31. Growing up I also loved the Beatles. I was born in 87, so after John died, but my parents never told me he died because I loved John, and they just didn’t have the heart to tell me, knowing someday I would figure it out on my own. I know this sounds really silly, and sad but i was oblivious to the fact that John was dead until I was 14 and I saw a history channel documentary about John’s life. Still makes me sad, the 9th of Dec, and the 9th of Oct I listen to a lot of Beatles music. 🙂

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  32. Nice Reflection! I was in eighth grade and grew up with Abbey Road and The White Album as my favorites. We had a substitute that day after John was murdered. She cried all day and we listened to Beatles and Lennon records. One of those moments in my life I’ll never forget.

    I don’t know if others have experienced this but a funny thing happens when I go back and watch the Anthology set or read a great biography on the Beatles or John. For the hours during the stories, you get so lost in them, that in some way you hope John will not die in the end. It reminds me of the same experience I had while watching the last version of Titanic; you know what happens but somehow wish that the end could be altered.

    Needless to say, it would’ve been great to see where his songwriting took him as he aged and matured more.

    Thanks for your thoughful reflections-Joe

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    • Exactly! I’ve been reading a book about the Beatles split (You Never Give Me Your Money) and I got exactly that feeling, wanting to shout at them, “Just take a break, cool off, come back in 1971 and do an LP together then.”

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  33. I recall that day – 9 December 1980 – very clearly. I was a teenager, about to go to university. I came home from my last private music lesson and my sister told me that John Lennon had been shot, Later that evening the news came in that he had died.

    Looking back to 1980 I recall the novelty of rock music at the time – just a couple of decades into its classic form – which the Beatles did so much to define in so many ways in the late 1960s. The differences between Lennon (more serious,introspective) and McCarteney (usually lighter and sillier) were their strengths. The Sergeant Pepper album brought the Mellotron into popular consciousness. Awesome stuff. I didn’t ‘get’ a lot of it until later, of course – including who was being done over in ‘I am The Walrus’.

    I never did get the Dinky ‘Yellow Submarine’, either. My parents bought me a Spectrum SPV instead.

    Matthew Wright
    http://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com
    http://www.matthewwright.net

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  34. Your blog brings a smile to my face, Ayd. You have an amazing post & story posted here. It definitely was a sad day. I can’t relate though, never been a Beatles fan, only some favorite songs by them.

    Like

  35. Yes I remember the announcement on radio as I got ready for work, just about to put my jeans on, in front of the gas fire, no central heating at the time, and fell over. I thought I’d misheard then bewilderment. I was there at the beginning of their meteoritic rise to fame and and was so sad to see their disintegration.

    Even to this day I don’t believe the true story of the break up has emerged, and I think the only one who could tell it is Ringo. He was like the link between McCartney and the others, who were on opposite sides at the time, with different lawyers, trying to break up the legal entity that was The Beatles.

    Although all appeared hunky dory during the making of the Anthology series there were stories circulating that George wouldn’t be in the same room as Paul unless filming had to be done. And considering it was Paul who brought George into the group so to speak I wonder what has gone on to get to that stage.

    Undoubtedly Paul has been the most commercially successful of the 4 but Yoko has managed John’s estate exceptionally well, buying up other apartments in the Dakota building when they became available. The estate is now worth multi millions, but her treatment of Julian has often been published, indifferent to say the least.

    Funnily enough just back from Liverpool after a visit, Cavern and all that, not THE Cavern of course as that was knocked down for Health & Safety reason I believe. But the original bricks were used to rebuild the Cavern of today, complete with air ducts for ventilation, all those sweaty people cannot be tolerated today.

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      • There were arguments over who should be appointed to manage them (and take 25%) and to untangle the hundreds of companies they’d had created in their name in dozens of countries around the world. There were massive tax implications as everything had been set up so confusingly (they were paying 94% tax). They had to give 3/4 of what they earned on solo projects to each other. They all expected to record again in 1970 or 71 but the hassles and fuss got so complex, Paul ended up wanting to be a separate legal entity. They nearly got back together for George’s Concert for Bangladesh but George didn’t want Yoko to perform. They nearly did again in 1974 too, but by then their separate lives got in the way, even though the wounds from 69-70 had healed.

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  36. Yes – quite a dramatic ‘day in the life’ of millions of Beatles fans. I was working at Marvel Comics at the time and, as the person with the cassette player, immediately put on an endless loop of Abbey Road and The White Album. ‘I read the news in those days, oh boy’ and I remember wondering whether the assassin somehow ‘thought’ that he was John Lennon therefore the real one had to die. Later, psychiatric reports confirmed this.

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  37. Reblogged this on Above The Field and commented:
    Tremendous essay remembrance of the impact John Lennon’s death had on this writer. Worth a read whether you’re a Lennon fan or not, a Beatles fan or not, old enough to remember that day or not…really a terrific piece.

    Like

  38. Commentators…Watch this comment go “Poof.” The first time I posted a comment on guns in the USA – earlier toddy – the owner of this blog deleted it.
    Figures.
    NRA type, likely. Americans can’t stand to hear the Truth.
    If only guns weren’t so available to deranged nuts in America, John Lennon would likely be with us today. But no….not in America…
    Ask yourself this: Why did Lennon get shot in NYC and not Paris, Montreal, or London? Could it be because of your ridiculous “right to bear arms?”

    **”aydinston, before you hit that Delete key….think….about truth, reality, hypocrisy. If you do delete this comment, then you’re no fan of John Lennon! He wrote a song titled “All I Want is The Truth (Just Gimee Some Truth).”

    Be a source of Truth on the web, aydinston!

    Will
    http://americanotstandingstill.com/

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    • I didn’t delete anything (I’ve approved every comment everyone has made on my blogs), it’s probably the time difference, we’re only just getting up this morning; your post would have come through when we in the UK were all asleep.

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      • Oh. I didn’t notice the time zone difference. Please accept my apology, re: “comment deleted.”(Not for _content_ of my content – I still revile American gun mania)

        TX

        WT

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      • No problem. Did you see Ringo taking part in an anti-gun demo on the 8th? He unveiled a psychedelic ‘knotted gun’ statue, which he had designed on his iPad.

        Ringo said: “My stepchildren called saying ’Something’s happened to John’. And you don’t think ’He’s been killed’, so you say ’Well, what’s happened?’ Anyway, in the end they called me back. They called and said ’John’s been killed. He’s been shot and he’s dead. You don’t know what to do. Your emotions are so whacked out.”

        Read more: http://www.breakingnews.ie/entertainment/ojmhkfojsnau/

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  39. “On 8th December 1980 the world was reminded that we are all mortal, ugly, vicious, spiteful and powerless. But there is still hope. We can still put on a Beatle record and find that the magic is still there, divorced from time and space, separated from the mortal men that created it.”

    Hats off to the above. John Lennon forever!

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  40. Seeing as my parents are children of the 60s and 70s, I was always aware of the Beatles whilst growing up. However, it wasn’t until I started doing my GCSE coursework that I really discovered just how astonishing they were – beautiful melodies, complex structures yet so wonderfully simple…they were just incredible. I listened to ‘Revolver’ practically on a loop for days trying to get my work done. RIP Mr Lennon, you continue to influence and bewitch even now.

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  41. The Beatles were such an amazing group! I don’t like all of their music, but their songs are classic. Apart they make/made great musicians…but together…that’s when the whole world listened.

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  42. I wasn’t alive when this happened, but I admire John, and all of the Beatles very much.

    “There IS joy to be sought and cherished in life no matter what undesired twists and turns we face.”

    Beautiful.

    Like

  43. I wasn’t even alive, when this all went down with John, but he did so much for so many people. Not only did he impact people with his genius level of music-making but he also impacted people in a social manner as well. Everyone was so distraught when the Beatles broke up but I thought it was great because John finally got the opportunity to showcase how much he cared for the well-being of people and the betterment of the world. Like he said, “Imagine Living as One.”

    jonwatersauthor.wordpress.com

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  44. I was five when John Lennon died. I remember my mother crying and distraught, taking me over to my grandmothers house and going down into the basement den where she still kept her old Beatles records. She sat on the floor holding them and crying. I’ve never forgotten that.

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  45. EITHER WAY… there hasn’t been many groups like the Beetles.. and there hasn’t been many people like John Lennon… Jesus, Ghandi..etc.

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  46. I love this, you pretty much covered everything Beatles, I just got done taking a class going through the history of Beatles so I appreciate this post so much more.

    I know that the Beatles influenced my music and you kind of tell even from this song I did.

    its so Lennon in the since of questioning what’s real.

    what yall think.?

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  47. Ayd, Its funny how most people can remember where they were when the dreadful news came, I was in Delhi airport returning to the UK after 6 weeks holiday and in the queue for the departure gate a person had Times magazine in their back pack with John Lennon’s face and the dates of his life, I was shocked . Like you the Beatles were my first pop group that I was a follower of.

    Regarding compliments you write a very good blog and email newsletter articles, such a gift to be good with words, if only we all could!

    Like

    • That’s so kind of you. Thank you. I don’t believe in ‘gifts’. Passion + Practice is all it takes I think. That doesn’t make it any easier, but it’s not something you have or don’t have, it’s something you work on.

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  48. The Beatles have made the greatest contribution ever possible to the world of music. If you just take into consideration today’s independent rock, there is so much Beatles influence. We could go as far as to say that The Beatles are everywhere in the sounds surrounding us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, inspirational just as the Beatles’ beautiful melodies.

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  49. Super interesting! Great blog you have here! Consider me a follower 🙂 I think you’ll really like my blog too! We write and design bios for artists and musicians and share their stories with the world to help them connect with their fans! Please subscribe to our blog and follow us. We’d love to hear your opinions.

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  50. What a Thoughtful and engaging piece. The details surrounding the moments the awful truth became apparent to you, echoed my own. I was eight years old, woken for school by my mum and informed of the tragedy by a sombre newsreader on our kitchen-top ‘wireless’ as I tucked into my Rice Krispies. I recall being, initially, stunned by the news and then I felt as close a sense of melancholy as an eight year old can possibly feel. It was my first experience of losing someone/something that had been a major influence on me, as well as a musically palpable presence in my short life; the now decommissioned Top of the Pops, immediately following his death, played Imagine as its number 1 single for what seemed like several weeks and elicited a tearful response from me, each time, without fail. The Beatles as a collective and individually were what I lived for back then and are, still, never very far from me now. My first vinyl single was George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord and my first LP was Imagine (my only other LP was Showaddywaddy’s Crepes & Drapes but, hey, I’m sure we can overlook that – I was only eight).
    Lennon’s brutal and premature death was a personal tragedy for his family and those that knew him; it was a public tragedy for all of those who listen to and love the music he made; but, also, it was – and still is – a cultural tragedy that transcends simple subjectivity, and this becomes poignantly apparent when we turn to face all of the magnificent contributors to musical discourse who were silenced far too early and abruptly when they had so many more songs to sing.

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