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This Day in History, 1980: John Lennon Shot

Twenty-five years ago today, John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman outside his apartment building, the Dakota, in New York City.

Most people probably don't need to be told who Lennon was. But as time passes, more and more people do. Lennon was a former member of the Beatles, one of the most influential rock groups in history, along with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. The Beatles took Britain by storm in 1963 and toured the USA the following year, yielding the now iconic images of teenage girls fainting during their concerts, and teenage boys trying to imitate their moptop hairstyles.

The Beatles disbanded in 1970. Lennon eventually married and settled in New York City. Lennon is memorialized by a landscaped section of Central Park named Strawberry Fields, after one of his songs.

Chapman remains imprisoned in Attica.

Personal note: At the time Lennon was killed, I was only 10 years old. Although his death was a local story for me, I didn't really have an understanding of his impact until years later. My main exposure to the Beatles up until that point was the movie Yellow Submarine and an import copy of the Revolver album.

In the end, all Lennon wanted was peace for the world. Let's hope we find it one day.


I was seven. Sgt. Pepper's was my favorite album, mostly because of the colorful cover, and "When I'm Sixty-Four." I cried a little when I heard the news.
I had some sense of who Lennon was, and what his death meant, but IO wasn't a Beatles fan till much later. I recall that when I woke my mother and told her that something happened to Lennon, she thought I meant something like Lenin's body had been stolen. (Mom was an Elvis fan, not a Beatles fan.)

I also recall that the former Yankee catcher and MVP Elston Howard died the next day, and that my principal protested that if Lennon's death deserved ten minutes on the news, Howard's death deserved eleven.

Today, of course, I understand Lennon's importance and join the world in recalling that sad day.
"Do you know what you just did?"
"I just shot John Lennon."

Quote of the decade.


Hi, Michael:

I was about 11 or 12 when Lennon died. I didn't really know who he was by name -- when I first heard he was killed, it went right over my head. It was only in the days after the event that I realized it was an important member of the Beatles. I'd had an uncle who was really into the Beatles when I was a kid, and I had heard a lot of their music in my early childhood. It wasn't until the following spring, though, when a lot of music from Lennon's "Double Fantasy" album was getting airplay, that I think I understood really what the world had lost.
I will say, I didn't understand the emotional impact of his death on his fans until many years later, when my musical idol, Freddie Mercury, died in 1991. THEN I knew what it felt like to lose someone whose music deeply inspired one. I mourn Lennon's loss, and I feel for his family, as I do for every talented artist who has died too soon.

Kim Kindya
I was a fifth grader in a yeshiva in Monsey at the time, but I knew the musical oeuvre quite well and was very upset. I spent part of the next day (the 9th) voicing my sentiments to classmates, who ran the gamut from empathizing to, er, not.
At the time Lennon was killed, I was only 10 years old. Although his death was a local story for me, I didn't really have an understanding of his impact until years later.

I was 10 as well, but I was a huge Beatles and Lennon fan, so it hit me hard. Growing up with parents who listened to 60s music made it impossible for me to not understand just how much had been lost.
I was 23 and living in Ohio with Jim and Leslie (who was all of six weeks old at the time). It was quite a shock. Having a newborn meant I got little sleep anyway, but I got much less that night!
I was in Bal'mer, whence I had run to try not to face up to my then failure in college. I was 19, and living with some friends. Although by that point I'd been turned on to good music, I was brought up square, with the specific exception of the Beatles.

Needless to say, disbelief turned into shock, and sleep was scarce that night.

December 2016

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