December 8, 1980…Lennon

Damn this date. Every Dec 8th I can’t help but think of where I was when I heard.  Last year the release of Get Back only heightened the anger and confusion over what happened. I post this post every year on this terrible date and will continue. I have updated it each time and I’ve almost rewritten it since I posted it first back in 2018…and if it’s too long now I apologize. I STILL feel what I felt on that date. Although to be accurate it was on December 9th that I found out…the next morning getting ready for school.

When I watched the news clips I felt like an interloper because all of these fans that were sobbing grew up with Lennon in real-time…I was this 13-year-old kid who was late to the party…a decade late.

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. To put it in perspective… it’s now 2022 and 10 years ago was 2012…that doesn’t seem that long ago. I was only 2 years old when the Beatles broke up so I had no clue.

Since second grade (1975), I’ve 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 turned the television on 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 didn’t get the significance at the time and some didn’t care. A few but not many acted almost gleeful which pissed me off…It was apparent their parents were talking through them. I never said swore words as a kid…it would have embarrassed me…I knew all the words but I never would have except for one particular kid on the bus…after he seemed to be happy about it he got a F**k yourself from yours truly. Not my finest moment as a child but the first time I swore in anger…no regrets here.

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 Beatles 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 hearts 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 who killed John in the First, Middle, and Last name format they assign to murderers. I won’t mention his name.

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…he was more Elvis, Little Richard, and country music… but he made his point. When my father passed in 2005 I thought about this conversation and knew he was teaching me again.

It was odd being into the Beatles at such a young age and after their time so to speak. While my peers were talking about all the contemporary artists at the time…all I talked about were John, Paul, George, and Ringo. I would end up comparing all the new music I heard to theirs…and that wasn’t fair at all. I would think to myself…well this song (any new song at the time) wasn’t as good as Strawberry Fields and so on. I, fortunately, grew out of that but it took a while.

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

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

48 thoughts on “December 8, 1980…Lennon”

  1. Truly a sad day as we were both the same age Max. I remember being 13 and thinking ‘how does this happen to guy who sings and writes songs”. Course as you get older you read the story on it. I will spin Revolution today in the mans honour!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Cool dude!
      It was one of those times that is frozen to me. That is what got me…it’s like why? He has been gone longer than he was alive…which is weird to think about.

      Like

  2. Always a sad day. Hard to believe he’s been gone so long. I think the true indicator came when I surpassed the age when he was killed. It shows how time doesn’t stand still and also how much he accomplished in his short life. Thanks for this Max.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. An extreme act by a troubled, sick young man. In 1980, musicians weren’t targets for killing, and Lennon, although outspoken at times, was a harmless person. As you say, a father and husband first then a musician. Who knows why the punk picked him, I’ve never heard or read of his reasoning. Now, in 2022, everyone is a target; the world has changed that much in 3 decades.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh yes it has changed. From what I read he had a list…Mick Jagger was on that list as well. It was an attention grab no doubt.

      Like

  4. Truly a sad moment in history, heightened by the whole appearance that he was indeed ‘Starting Over’ and going to do a lot more great things, probably in music and in the public realm. I agree with you on the murderer -it’s important the public know who did it but we need not publicize his name since that publicity seems like what he wanted.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My music being was wrapped up in The Beatles at that time…so I have to say the date had an effect on me and still does.
      If he would have died a natural death it would be somewhat different….just a waste.
      John Lennon has been dead more years than he was alive…which is crazy to think about.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I was watching The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson when they broke in with the news. I then switched on my transistor radio to WNEW-FM then the best FM station in NYC and listened for most of the night as they talked about the life and legend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I live in Nashville but the rock stations opened up the phones on Dec 9th and had callers call in that night. It went on all night long. I have it recorded somewhere on an 8-track of all things. I want to find it.

      Like

  6. Maybe it was because I was a little older, but it didn’t make that much of an impact on me. I was surprised and sad, but aside from a couple of short conversations at work about it and the news accounts in the paper the next morning, I really didn’t dwell on it too much.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yea it got me bad. Of course I was 13 so it hit. Elvis didn’t have much an impact on me probably because I was too young and wasn’t as in him. If Lennon would have died naturally it probably wouldn’t have hit so much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s the same with the Challenger disaster. When I heard about it, I was in the computer room of Elmhurst hospital, working on a problem. I felt sad (remember, that was the one where they sent Krista McAuliffe, the schoolteacher, with the crew), but I was busy when it happened, and when I got home, Mary, who had been watching it all day, didn’t want to watch any more.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yea I remember that as well. It was snowing here that day and I didn’t go to work and was watching it.
        I guess the two events for me that effected me more than just being sad was Lennon and 9-11. Those two things really impacted me.

        Like

      3. 9/11 was rough because I have family in NY and NJ, and because my cousin was getting married that Saturday, and we were flying to Chicago that Friday. We were on one of the first flights out of Hartsfield that day…

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I was off that day from work and was just shocked. Later in the afternoon I never heard it so quiet before in my life outside. No planes (we live 20 or so miles from The 101st Airborne) and not even cars out that day.

        Like

  7. His death was both a shame and a shock. I didn’t feel quite the same way about John as I did about the others, but it was still jarring at the time.

    Good to read how it had affected and still does affect you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Val…I just wrote a note to you..
      Yea John remains my favorite of the bunch. It was such a waste…that part is what really hit me. If he would have died of a heart attack…ok…but this was senseless.

      Like

  8. I appreciate your musing. I can’t watch any Lennon videos unless he’s happily with the rest of the lads. (It tears up the gut, still.) It’s funny how Julian looks like him and Sean doesn’t. Both are very, very nice *kids.* Maybe John and Julian would’ve come together eventually. Sad, sad, sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you…It’s hard for me seeing any picture of him around this time. I do think Julian and John would have come together in the future. You are right…they both seem like nice kids along with Dhani, George’s son, and James, Paul’s son….plus both of Ringo’s sons.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. In retrospect after watching the first video,. I envision John Lennon as the least kindly of the Beatles to embrace musical stardom. I call him the the Reluctant hero. Today remains a symbolically sad day in my life for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I remember where I was when the news broke. My BF and I were watching TV and saw the announcement. The senselessness of the act is impossible to get my head around.

    The JT encounter is purely chilling and unbelievable.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. For me John was the spine of the group. The other three all would have had success, I’m sure. but John would not take the easy route. Paul had the sweet image, George the quiet deep one, Riungo the lets-be-friends pal, John just took no no prisoners when it came to his music,
    .
    A bad day, and now there’s some that say of the miscreant- ‘time has long passed, people change…’ Nah, let that small minded egotist f- fester and rot.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think as thirteen year olds we feel everything very strongly, and that’s probably why these feelings have remained with you. That and being a huge Beatles fan! Your dad made a good point, and we instinctively turn to the music whenever a rock star dies, and forget that, much more importantly, someone’s lost a child, parent, partner… Nice post.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What I best remember about that day is I was supposed to have a guitar lesson in the late afternoon. When my guitar teacher who was a huge Beatles fan arrived he was completely destroyed. Instead of doing the lesson we switched on the early evening news where they were reporting about John’s murder.

    Later that evening, I listened to a special program hosted by my favorite DJ on my favorite mainstream radio station. He was a huge Beatles fan as well. I taped the one-hour program on music cassette. That tape is still floating around somewhere.

    Interestingly, I have no recollection whatsoever that Lennon’s death was a significant topic of discussion in school.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea I did the same thing…I taped our biggest rock station here then opening up the phones for people to call in…I have that tape somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea I was an older soul so to speak. Some of my classmates didn’t know much about him at all. I just couldn’t make sense of it…and still can’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. beacons of light not only inspire us but they call darkness in. I honestly don’t remember when/where I was when I learned about John’s murder but I remember a pit of great emptiness and sorrow opened in my being when I did.

    Liked by 3 people

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: