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24 September 2014

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John Lennon

John Lennon was shot in 1980

Lennon remembered

John Lennon was shot dead outside his New York home on December 8th 1980. What are your memories of how you heard the news? Can you recall exactly what you were doing? Add your comments here.

On December 8th 1980 former Beatle John Lennon was shot dead outside his New York apartment.The news of Lennon’s assassination reached the UK in the early hours of the morning of December 9th. 

40 year old Lennon was shot several times by Mark Chapman, as he entered the Dakota building in Manhattan, he was rushed to in a police car to St Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center where he died.

An estimated 20,000 people turned out for a 10 minute vigil in the at St George’s Hall in Liverpool on December 14th 1980. The crowd sang ‘Give Peace a Chance’ on St George’s Plateau as millions of people around the world, including over 50,000 in New York joined in with a vigil for world peace and non-violence in memory of John Lennon.

In May 1990 a tribute concert was staged in memory of John Lennon in Liverpool. 'John Lennon: The Tribute Concert', was held at the Pier Head with performances from artists including B. B. King, Joe Cocker, Kylie Minogue performing a disco version of ‘Help’, Roberta Flack, the Moody Blues, Hall and Oates, Wet Wet Wet and Lou Reed performing ‘Jealous Guy‘.

The University of Liverpool received more than £500,000 from the Lennon estate following the 1990 concert, the money was invested in a trust and is used to fund scholarships for local children.

last updated: 20/05/2008 at 15:45
created: 06/12/2005

Have Your Say

What were you doing when you heard the news of John Lennon's death? Did you attend the vigil at St George's Hall? Add your memories here.

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Over rated

Hugh Gleaves
Lennon was a maverick who used music as his vehicle for demonstrating his talent and indviduality. A non conformist who loathed mediocrity and refused to let others define him or his capabilities. It was Lennon who founded The Beatles and drove them forward, this is no small acheievment and demsontrates his impressive leadership skills and powerful self drive. I heard of his death on the Radio shortly after my 21st birthday and visited the home of Alan Williams (the first tour manager) it was especially sad to sit with others who had actually known him.

Barbara (New York)
I was a huge Beatle fan from the time I was 5 years old. My parents used to play their music all the time, and I loved it!. I was also addicted to their Saturday morning cartoon at the time. But my love, and admiration for all of them (especially John) has lasted my entire life. The night he was assinated will forever be engraved in my mind. I was a teenager in 1980,and on that night, I was just relaxing, watching television. While going through the channels, I noticed on channel 4 that there was a newsman talking about someone that was shot in front of his apartment in Manhatten. And then he said "John Lennon dead at 40"... I ran down the stairs, and turned on the television there, and realised that more and more channels were reporting the same horrible news. I remember standing there, with my mouth hanging wide open, in shock for I don't know how long. I cried for days, and for years (on the anniversary of his death) since then. John wherever you are, I know that you are making everyone around you smile, think, and laugh. You are a true treasure, and I miss you dearly. God bless you sir.

I was still in bed, in the morning of 9th December. I heard the voice at the radio ("...Lennon was shot....") but the sound was very low, so I though that my ears heard the wrong words. But at this moment my mum came to my bedroom and said: "John Lennon was shot". I realized that was true, became in shock, and still in bed I closed my eyes and began to think that was only a bad dream. (I am from Uruguay, in South America, so please sorry for my bad english).

I do acknowledge John's undoubted skill in songwriting and contribution to he nusic world, his death was not needed and is a waste of talent, we must however must not fall into the trap treating John as a whiter than white Saintly being , he is a flawed human being a big ego and quite Gobby about it, with occasional delusion of grandeur, he once said "Baetles are more popular than Jesus" and he even went through a phase of calling himself Jesus Christ, he can be very sarcastic. it can be described as Flawed Genius, so separate the Man from the myth, as appreciate what he given to the world without the trappings of virtual Sainthood

Why are we remembring John lennon on his death anniversary.Surely we should be remembering him on his birthday and not on the day he was taken from us.Mark Chapman murdered John for the notoreity and attention he desperatly craved.Lets celebrate John´s life on his birthday and keep Chapman out of the media and our consciousness.

John was the wonderful Musican and my favorite Idol I will visit Lioverpool in march 2006 THANK YOU JOHN

Had moved out of liverpool when John was murdered so not able to go to St George's Hall. I heard it on the radio, morning of the 9th for us here in England, and I was so saddened by the news. I went to work and didnt think about anything all day, except why??? He has been missed by so many, still loved by so many and will always hold a place in hearts all over the world.

Paul Poynton
John Lennon The greatest loss to music ever,a talented,imaginative and challenging person.I am in Vietnam at the moment and I was thinking about him with sadness but also gratitude on what he brought to the world.

Steve Beech, New York City (formally of Wallasey)
I was working late that night in the city. When I heard the news, I was devastated. I kept asking myself why and how can this happen in my new home, New York City. I walked home that night to my Queens apartment. The distance was about 12 miles and all the way humming ‘Imagine’.

Steve Beech, New York City (formally of Wallasey)
I was working late that night in the city. When I heard the news, I was devastated. I kept asking myself why and how can this happen in my new home, New York City. I walked home that night to my Queens apartment. The distance was about 12 miles and all the way humming ‘Imagine’.

Samuel Wraith
In those days we were woken with a radio alarm tuned to BBC world service. On hearing the news my reaction was to think 'how unlike the BBC to make such a mistake'. I come from Liverpool and I went off to work thinking 'ok, he may have been shot but he will be fine, it can't be true' The bus driver had a radio on and I heard it again but still could'nt take it in. It was probably around mid day when I accepted it. By lunch time I was back home crying. Somebody tried to console me by saying "come on, he was only a singer" but theres always been a bit more to it than that, has'nt there?

Colleen, San Jose
I was 27 and living in Anaheim, CA. I was at home with my young daughter and my brother was visiting. My friend came over and told me the horrible news. I was shocked into numbness. The Beatles had helped me through a nightmarish childhood and adolescence. John Lennon was one of the very few people in the world that I admired. My world fell on top of me with no way to get out of the rubble. I remember my friend and I having a few drinks and I just cried and cried when I finally came out of my shock. Why, why, why!!!??? That's what I asked myself over and over. I wasn't able to attend any public vigils, being a single working mom, but I had my own vigil at home. John, you were one in a billion, a rare man. You gave so much of yourself without asking for anything in return, you were enlightened, intelligent, compassionate, talented and a wonderful dissident. Even though John is no longer with us, he still helps me get through in this troubled world. He is still one of the few people in the world that I admire. We should have an international holiday honering John and his endeavors. And may his murderer's name never be spoken or printed, but just known as John Lennon's murderer. The monster wanted fame and he should not have it. Thank you, John, for everything. I'll never forget you.

I'm from Italy and was only 7 years old when John died; I listened the sad news somehow, keep this vague childhood memory in my heart. I would like to grow up with him, his music, his eclecticism, his words and to know him directly. I miss him so much, he's still alive, with his great soul, his voice still lovely and warm.

Tink, Florida
I had just started my first position working with the elderly. I had the three to eleven shift. I got home from work and was listening to a Jim Morrison special on the radio when it was interrupted with the broadcast that John Lennon had been shot. My first thoughts were ones of irritation that the media just couldn't leave him alone. I was disgusted that they would say he had been shot. Then I realized it wasn't some sick media ploy. John Lennon really had been shot. He was dead. I still feel the shock and desolation. He was, and remains my favorite. I'll miss him and his music always.

Bill in Texas USA
I was attending a 2 day seminar in Temple Texas staying in a Motel when i put the tv on and there was John's face filling the screen.Then i noticed the two dates at the bottom and realised it had to be his birth and death date's.

Harold L. Nicol of St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
As a 56 year old Yank, I was initially unimpressed by the Fab Four when they first played in the US. I was more interested in jazz & blues. However, when John Lennon began to write the song lyrics for "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "Strawberry Fields", I know that a seismic shift had occured in the culture. I became a lifelong fan of John Lennon's musical vision. My youngest daugher, thankfully, is an ardent fan of John Lennon's music and will carry his music into the future. Thank you for your time.

ines aparici, tierra del fuego, argentina
i live in argentina and i remember that day. i was studying to become a doctor and that morning i was about to sit for my final biochemistry exam. i was traveling to the faculty by taxi when the radio announced that john lennon had been shot. i started weeping, but i had to go on with my test. i shall never forget that day. this year i had the chance to be in saitama, in the surroundings of tokyo, where the john lennon museum stands. i weeped again when i saw his piano, his guitars, when i touched the copy of his hand and when i read his lyrics. furthermore, i experienced a great feeling of peace that i never had before.

tracy from essex
he will never truly be gone because his eldest son has his voice and what a voice that is

Kathryn Ansley
I was 14 and had recently just 'discovered' the Beatles, much to the amusement of my school friends who were all into chart music. When I heard that John had been murdered, the bottom fell out of my world. It was my first experience of grief and stayed with me for many years. John's music has been with me throughout my life, like an old friend. It's still painful not to have him with us but at least he left us with something to help us through...his wonderful music. Sleep well John.

Joe Robinson
I went down to Mathew St in Liverpool on the day John was murdered, (9th December 1980 in the UK). I spent the whole day there with other fans remembering John, and listening to his and The Beatles music. At home that night, I wrote a poem recalling the events of that bleak day in Liverpool.It was published in the Liverpool Echo Lennon Souvenir Edition the following Monday. It read. 'A wan sky, a few flowers, and nowhere men who stand for hours in Mathew St. An empty face, why was he shot, and why oh why this parking lot in Beatle St? Media men milking fans then disappear in TV vans, in Mathew St. A calm descends amid the fold of followers, keeps out the cold, in Beatle St. "Long Live Lennon!" someone shouts, no argument, no fear, no doubts, in Mathew St. Some think of peace, some sing a song, John you were right,'It Won't Be Long!' in Beatle St. God bless - John Lennon, an icon of the 20th Century, a peace campaigner, and a much loved son of Liverpool.

Chris Smith
John Lennon, the 2nd most talented of the Beatles, after Paul McCartney. He is not a genius by any stretch of the imagination.

andy illston,liverpool england
well i was to young to remember lennon getting shot i was 1 years old but the storys of my mum and dad is they heard the news when they where woking in a bank in town and the whole bank just stopped and everybody was just in shock and some people where crying am going to town today to join in with celebrating johns life and to everyone across the world liverpool is the best city in the world and we lost 1 of the best talents the world has ever seen thanks john for giving me the will to join a band and write songs r.i.p

Simon Doherty
I have vague memories of 1980 when I was three years old, living in Lancaster, UK & when Lennon was shot. The event obviously had a impact on the little me at the time. I would love for him to be around now. What would he be doing?

Brenda Haines
My husband and I were both from Liverpool, we were living in Philadelphia, I had just had a baby six days earlier. My Mum and Dad were staying with us. We were watching the local 10.00pm news when we heard the sad news. I had danced to the Beatle's music at the Litherland Town Hall and the Aintree Institute as well as the Cavern so the loss was quite personal. What a waste, he had so much to offer and is still greatly missed.

Dion, Liverpool
It was just before my sixth birthday, I was sat in the living room of our house in Old Swan having my hair cut by my mum. I think it was in the evening when John Lennon's death was announced on the news. I didn't have much of a clue what was going on, but my family were clearly staggered. It was only as a young adult that I realised the talent Lennon was and how pointless and destructive an act was commited by the taking of his life. He was more than one of rock's greatest talents: he spent his whole life searching for human truths, and in today's age of celebrity as an end in itself we need his like more than ever. In my early twenties I lived in the Childwall area of Liverpool, some fifteen minutes from where Lennon grew up on Menlove Avenue. It always strikes me just how evocative tracks like 'I Am The Walrus' and 'Strawberry Fields Forever' are of the entire feel of suburban Liverpool, wet leaves, grey skies and quiet afternoons. Maybe that's the greatest triumph of The Beatles: not just that they made such good music with such success, but that they did so on the back of a vision which was purely personal. Some of Lennon's tracks in particular sound like they could have been written just for you, yet their appeal is universal.

Jamie, San Francisco
I was in college in upstate NY. It was a cold, lovely winter night. I can remember the exact spot on the path where my friend came to me. I can still see the bare trees, the perfect upstate NY starry sky, which I had been reveling at, up until that moment. A very close friend runs towards me. She was distressed. It gets a bit blurry here but I think she grabbed me as she said "John Lennon's Been Shot!" I reacted as if it were a joke, "You're kidding, right?". I refused to believe it, I said, "it's got to be a rumor". It was clear we had to get to a radio. (Very, very few had TV's on campus, and no-one had PC's back then) We went to another friend's room in search of a radio, hoping that this was jsut a prank, a cruel joke. All this time I am not believing it and still thinking it's a cruel prank. I imagine that the news must have first arrived via a telephone call. But inevitably somehow the horrible news was confirmed and we all broke down and held each other. I wish I remembered more details, but the news itself really obliterated everything else. I'm sure we stayed up all night, as many had around the world. I've been reading about all the commemorations happening in cities around the world. I have heard nothing of any tributes planned in San Francisco where I now live which leaves me totally mystified! I attended a tribute, of sorts, on December 5th at a bookstore. This was a free reading and slide show of photos from a new book about Lennon which is a Photo Biography. There was musical accompaniment to some of the slides. The timing of this event was impeccable. I learned things about him that I never knew, saw great photos of John and there are a few photos that were never printed before. The book which was published this year is "John Lennon - All I Want is The Truth". There was a man in attendance who wore a suit with a button that stated simply "I miss John". He's had the button since 1980 and wears it every year on Oct. 9th and Dec. 8th. I am a musician and a songwriter. As I have gotten older, I have become more and more a true John devotee. My appreciation for John's genius as a songwriter continues to grow. I will always be fascinated by his complexity and his multiple talents - his songs, his books, his drawings, his actions. Around this time last year I was visiting my 79-year-old father in NY; who was at the end of his life. I was playing guitar and singing to him and my mother. I sang a lot of Beatles songs. My father asked me to play "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". I was surprised. He told me he loved that song and said it was one of his favorites.

Jim Zakon
I was returning home from watching monday night football on abc with my friend dick abrahams. The game ended late and I was driving home on the dark quiet roads of weston Massachusetts USA, and Howard Cosell came on the radio and of all things interupted a beatles song on the radio, and said" John Lennon had been assassinated. I thought that this was in error or a bad sense of humor from the shock of hearing such insane news. I thought that New York city was a violent place with all the varieties of humanity that occupy the city. Never in history had a rock star been murdered, only presidents and heads of state by political killers, not a music man. What is wrong with society I thought as I drove home, depressed and in shock. The murderer stole him from us the Beatles who healed our shock of the Kennedy murder.

Madeleine Addison
It was early evening when I found out that John lennon was dead. I was watching Little House on the Prairie when the message ran across the bottom of the screen. as a transplanted Liverpool lass, living in Canada, where we are not part of the "gun culture" of the USA, I was horrified that he would have died in such a violent way. The irony of his death by gunshot was so much the opposite of how he lived his life

Veronica Jayne Cook
I am from Liverpool and met John at the Cavern with the reat of the Beatles. I went every night they played there. When he was murdered I was just across the park from him. I live in New York, almost directly across from John. I called friends in London and Liverpool hoping if I made the right call someone would say it was not true, he was somewhere else. I could not go to the Dakota for a few days even though it is minutes from my apartment, I was too sad. I did go to the rememberance in the park which was like a peace rally in feeling. I go to Strawberry Fields on days there are no crowds like New Years day, or in fact any time I feel the need to go. I pop in there with flowers. There is always something on the IMAGINE circle, I have never seen it without at leat a few candles and flowers. He will never be forgotten.

Joanne Rice
I was at school, and heard it from one of my teachers, I was a huge Beatles fan, and in the process of collecting as much information about the Fab 4, as I could. I attended the vigil at St Georges Hall with a friend, we had a lit candle and sang songs in Johns memory. I was only 15 at the time, but remember it like it was yesterday. A part of music died with John, but he will always be remembered for his unique musical talent and his scouse humour.

I am from Argentina, I was washing my hair when I listened the news. I couldn`t believe what had happened, really incredible. I felt very sad for that. I grew up with his songs and The Beatles songs.

jason t richardson
my friend pete and i were first on the scene of the cavern when he was shot but the echo printed a pic of the 2 girls that came after us,clearly they were more photogenic..i was at art college aged 18 and very into lennon..on that amazing day we met david hockney at the walker,he was visiting there and told him the news it was early and he hadnt heard,,later we bioth went to the vigil and i went to one every year after if i could...i was lucky enough to perform my poem..."me and john lennon"on the big screen in town recently..i would be happy to perform it for you guys if you want ...even this year i did a performance ove rin central park on the imagine mosaic to some disinterested tourists...he was the greatest of his type and like george best wont be seen

Pat van der Veer (Robinson)
I was attending a Jazzercise class, close to where I lived in, San FRancisco. The person teaching the class gave the news of his death and played some of his songs for us to dance to, as a tribute. "Woman" was one I remember. Three years ago, I e returned home to my place of birth, West Derby Liverpool.

Debbie, Cheshire.
I was a student at Widnes 6th Form College at the time of Lennon's death and I remember my mum woke me up in the morning to tell me the news. She looked pale and shaken. One of my fellow students, a huge John Lennon fan, stayed in his bedroom for days afterwards playing Lennon's music over and over again.

My mum told me that my sister (aged only 2 months at the time) was in her lap and she gave her first smile as the breaking news report came on the television in Liverpool. She also told me that my dad was down Walton Vale shopping and he bumped into my uncle that had asked him if he had heard the news.

Dave Cox
I remember it was a school day, I was woken by a friends knock on the door. Steve matter-of-factly said. John Lennons been shot. The full impact of that didnt hit me until I heard later he was dead.

I am a Londoner in New York. I was about to enter the Mid Town tunnel, leaving Manhattan heading towards Queens When I heard the news. I pulled up at the entrance to the tunnel. People were blasting their horns and a few came to my car to see what was wrong.When i told them all anger and annoyance like magic disappeared. NYC was deathly quiet the next day. It was heart felt, except that was for my Scottish boss who exact words were' f@#k him he was a communist.I'll never forget that mans as I quit giving him the two fingered salute.

Keith Cummins
I remember my Dad was working in Germany when John was shot and he heard the news at a railway station in Gemany on the way home from a fellow worker. The man came walking up to him with a broad smile on his face and said to my Dad John Lennon had been shot dead and my Dads only reaction was why are you smiling. He was my Dads idol and we went to the memorial as I recall at St Georges Hall where as an eleven year old boy I couldn't stop crying even though I wasn't sure why,

I was in high school at the time.Lived not far from where Mr. Lennon was shot in NYC. I was listening to the radio that night when the news came in.Later attended the memorial service in Central Park. All these years later and it still hurts to think about it. David,USA

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