December 8, 1980

I wrote this back in May but since it’s December 8th I thought I would repost it…I can’t believe it’s been 38 years ago… Seeing that date depresses me…this was not the way to start the decade that was my teens.

Since second grade, I’d been listening to the Beatles. While a lot of kids I knew listened and talked about modern music …I just couldn’t relate as much. By the time I was ten I had read every book about The Beatles I could get my hands on. In a small middle TN town…it wasn’t too many. I was after their generation but I knew the importance of what they did…plus just great music. The more I got into them the more I learned about the Who, Stones, and the Kinks. I wanted to get my hands on every book about the music of the 1960s. Just listening to the music wasn’t enough…I wanted to know the history.

I spent that Monday night playing albums in my room. Monday night I didn’t turn the radio on…I’m glad I didn’t…The next morning I got up to go to school and the CBS morning news was on. The sound was turned down but the news was showing Beatle video clips. I was wondering why they were showing them but didn’t think much of it.

Curious, I walked over to the television and turned it up and found out that John Lennon had been shot and killed. I was very angry and shocked. The bus ride to school was quiet, at school, it was quiet as well. Some teachers were affected because John was their generation. Some of my friends were shocked but some really didn’t get the significance at the time and some didn’t care. A few but not many kids acted almost gleeful which pissed me off…It was obvious their parents were talking through them.

I went out and bought the White Album, Abbey Road and Double Fantasy in late December of 1980…I can’t believe I didn’t have the two Beatle albums already…now whenever I hear any song from those albums they remind me of the winter of 80-81. I remember the call-in shows on the radio then…pre-internet… people calling to share their feelings for John or hatred for the killer.

The next few weeks I saw footage of the Beatles on specials that I had never seen before. Famous and non-famous people pouring their heart out over the grief. Planned tributes from bands and everyone asking the same question…why?

My young mind could not process why a person would want to do this to a musician. A politician yea…I could see that…not that it’s right but this? A musician? Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, and JFK were before my time.  By the mid-1970s John had pretty much dropped out of sight…John and Yoko released Double Fantasy on November 17, 1980, and suddenly they were everywhere…Less than a month later John was murdered. The catchwords were Catcher in the Rye, Hawaii, handgun and insane. The next day we were duly informed on who killed John in the First, Middle, and Last name format they assign to murderers.

I didn’t want to know his name, his career, his wife’s name, his childhood…I just wanted to know why… he says now…”attention”

I noticed a change happened after that Monday night. John Lennon was instantly turned into a saint, something he would have said was preposterous. Paul suddenly became the square and the uncool one and George and Ringo turned into just mere sidemen. Death has a way of elevating you in life. After the Anthology came out in the 90s that started to change back a little.

I called my dad a few days after it happened and he said that people were more concerned that The Beatles would never play again than the fact a man, father, and husband was shot and killed. He was right and I was among those people until he said that. Dad was never a fan but he made his point.

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

17 thoughts on “December 8, 1980”

  1. It’s hard to believe that the 40th anniversary will soon be here. It still feels like yesterday to me. I like many others was watching Monday Night Football when the news broke. One of the worst days of my life- and I didn’t even know the man personally.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting. I was 12 at the time and could not process it…and still cannot. I didn’t realize the 40th anniversary was coming up…that was John’s age at the time.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I was twenty and going through a very rough patch at the time–this really put me into a bad state. That entire winter I felt lost. It was like one big long never ending day. I am with you on this- I still can’t totally process this. Two things- to think John soon will have been dead longer than he lived- and that Sean who was just a little boy at the time is now older than his father ever got a chance to be.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Two great points. Also Julian and John never got a chance repair their relationship. It was our generation’s JFK… at least to me anyway. It was the first time in my young life I felt true hatred toward someone…It took a while for that to go away.


  2. I was in the fourth grade, but with much older brothers and an uncle I was indoctrinated pretty much at birth. I was watching the Monday Night Football game between the Patriots and Dolphins, but my bedtime was halftime, so I didn’t hear Howard Cosell announce it later in the game. I vividly remember sitting down for breakfast the next morning with our little 12 inch black and white TV showing the news. There was the footage of The Beatles stepping off the plane in Japan wearing their kimonos.

    One of my brothers popped a blank cassette into his stereo in his dorm room late in the night of the 8th/9th, switched around the AM dial, and hit record. From Missouri he was able to pick up WABC in New York. It was a nonstop reporting from the scene plus music. I now have a copy on CD and it’s very eerie.

    It’s interesting to me how I feel the pull to commemorate John’s passing each 12/8 to this day, yet with George I celebrate his birthday. Is it because John died violently? I’m not sure. But it did impact me at a very young age.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never had a death outside of a relative to hit me like that up to that time. After reading what I wrote…I was actually 13 when it happened…not 12. That is awesome that you have those radio recordings. The reason I say that is because I recorded the next night on my 8-track stereo! I’ve looked and looked but cannot find it. Somewhere I hope in all of my things I have an 8-track with people calling in but I believe it’s gone. I met a disc jockey that took calls that night years later and I told him I recorded it and he begged me to find it…I couldn’t…

      It was just so senseless. I felt so much anger along with the sadness. I still have some newspaper clippings I saved from that period…

      It’s probably because it was such a shock. Whenever the date rolls around for me…I can’t help but think of that terrible morning I found out and I’ll listen to Abbey Road.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good post, Badfinger. My sweetie had similar experience to you vis a vis the Beatles – she has 3 older siblings and grew up loving The Beatles but says everyone else in her school thought them terribly uncool. I remember loving “Sgt. Pepper” when I was tiny – my brother had the record and my Mom played it quite a bit and I really dug that. As for 1980– I don’t remember it that well but I know I felt shocked at the way he died. Horrible. As you seem to suggest, i too thought (and still do) that while we needed to know who did it, his name should not be remembered and the “why” should matter only to plsychologists, not to the public as a way to deflect the blame from him. One can only wonder what John would have done through the rest of the century…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. i remember a news clip showing the place on the city street where he was shot and then a flash of the killer’s face and something went blank inside. one of those pivotal moments when you know things will never be the same.

    Liked by 1 person

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