December 8, 1980…Lennon

Damn this date. Every Dec 8th I can’t help but think of where I was at when I heard.  Get Back only heightened the anger and confusion over what happened.

It’s odd to think the Beatles had only been broken up for 10 years when this happened…to a 13 year old at the time…that was a lifetime but in reality it’s nothing.

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.

Below is a video of James Taylor telling on how he met the killer a day before Lennon was murdered.


Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

42 thoughts on “December 8, 1980…Lennon”

  1. Very well written Max.. yes this morning the first thing that entered my mind- today is December 8…. 41 years ago? Even though the nightmare happened at the end of the day– I can still remember everything about that day like it was yesterday…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Hans. I can’t believe it’s been 41 years. At the time I couldn’t remember when the Beatles were together…I was 3 in 1970…it was way back in the past but only 10 years…which is now like thinking back to 2011…which seems like yesterday. I didn’t realize how close in time it was.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. When I became a Beatlemaniac in 1976- 1970 seemed a long time ago- it seemed to me at the time like I was learning about something a long time into the past like WWII..

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I never knew today was the day that he was murdered. Your recollections took me back to it although I never recalled it. I was too young and my family weren’t big Beatles fans although we loved Lennon’s rcords. I never knew that about James Taylor having met the killer! I won’t mention the SOB’s name.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A tragic day for me. It was like the world flipped into a horrible alternate universe and everything was just wrong after that. The 60s and 70s and my childhood and teenage years pretty much had a line drawn under them from then onwards for the awful 80s in the uk. People with money at the time loved the 80s. Those without – and there were millions with no jobs – dont look back with nostalgic whimsy for a decade that started like this, the cold war, right wing world leaders actual wars and mass unemplyment and runaway inflation.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Max, I remember when it happened but not with the level of detail you did. What sticks out for me is seeing that sick pasty face plastered across newspapers and magazines, giving the p.o.s. the attention he craved. He should have been taken into the nearest alley and swiss-cheesed with bullets and dumped in the landfill for rats to gnaw on. Like Manson, instead he was given 3 hots and a cot for untold years at taxpayer’s expense. You know the justice system is broken via this evidence.

    Thank you for your heartfelt tribute post on the anniversary of one of the great musicians of our time’s senseless murder. The video of James Taylor describing the p.o.s. killer and his nutzoidness gave me a feeling of nausea.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. As a 13 I wanted to be alone with him in a room for 5 minutes with a bat… I was just confused and angry…I mean why a musician…what made it worse was going to school…The Beatles were not as popular in the early eighties…and very few understood how big it was.

      Thanks Lisa…that was a long long winter.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand where a teenager would be confused and angry about it. A few years ago when I saw that doc about Geo when the maniac broke in and tried to kill him, my blood literally ran cold. Evil does walk on the earth and it hates light. Thank goodness Olivia was able to hold him off somewhat, but I still think he never recovered after that attack.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m convinced that is what made the cancer come back in George. I think he would have lived for years if that would not have happened. Heck he could be alive today.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Tragic still, and probably on people’s minds more this year because of the renewed interest in the Beatles due to ‘Get Back.’ I don’t remember specifically where I was or was doing when I heard he had been killed (the next morning I believe) but I do remember it being horrifying and much “bigger” to me than when Elvis died , both because I knew more of John’s music (solo and band) than Elvis and liked it more plus this was just a senseless act, whereas it seemed (to me then) that Elvis brought it on himself anyway. I do remember that I’d heard ‘Starting Over’ a few times by then and liked it and saw the tragic irony of that song and its lyrics and how he seemed to be coming back musically when this happened.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Although I love the White Album…I mean love it…as you know…some of it still reminds me of that winter after this happened.

      I think they would have toured a year or so after this. Yea this hit me hard…because yes I was a super fan and like you said…he didn’t ask for this…it wasn’t like natural causes. It was just senseless.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Man, 41 years, that’s just crazy! That’s a life time – well of a short life, I guess.

    When John was pronounced dead, it already was early morning (Dec 9) in Germany. Weirdly, my two memories from Dec 9 are from the late afternoon and evening. I don’t have any particular recollection from the morning or my school day.

    That late afternoon, I was supposed to have a guitar lesson. My guitar teacher was a huge Beatles. When he showed up at my house, he was visibly in shock. Instead of doing the lesson, we switched on the TV and watched the early evening news where they reported on John’s death.

    At 9pm that evening, my favorite German radio DJ at the time, Frank Laufenberg, did a one-hour special on John. I recorded it on MC. That tape must still be floating around somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s still shocking to this day. I mean a politician you can comprehend…not agree with but see. A musician just makes no sense.

      I bet your guitar teacher was shocked.

      That is the same thing I did. Here in Nashville there was a rock radio station WKDF that had a two hour call in show just for this. Callers would call in and talk about it…in between they would play Lennon songs. I recorded it on a recordable 8-track…it’s somewhere.


  7. The interview with JT is absolutely chilling. Like others, I didn’t know about that encounter. I remember being at my BF’s house and they had the football game on, and hearing the Cosell announcement. Won’t ever forget it. Dec 8 is also my brother’s birthday, so it’s a day that’s always been on my calendar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was…and still is so shocking…and it was 41 years ago. I always blamed it on being 13 but its just as confusing now.
      At least it’s something positive on that date for you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think there’s any sense to make of it. There’s no organizing thoughts or analyzing what happened. I’m on board with never mentioning the name or showing the picture of the assailant.

        Liked by 1 person

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