Manhattan 25 Years Ago

John Lennon

December 8th, 1980. John Lennon leaves his flat near central park and meets a fan on his way out, signing a copy of his recent album release “Double Fantasy”. The fan was Mark David Chapman, and he had other intentions than getting an autograph. On Lennon’s return Chapman shot him 5 times.

Fans all around the world will be celebrating his life today. In London and New York there will be an official musical tribute concert. Balloons will be released from the Albert Dock in Liverpool where John grew up and played his first gigs in his band the Quarrymen with Paul McCartney and later George Harrison.

John Lennon and the Beatles had a big influence on my life. I have all the Beatles’ albums – mostly on vinyl, and a few collected Lennon and McCartney solo works too. I’ve played their music on piano, organ and guitar, and sung their songs in front of classes of French schoolkids learning English. I went on a pilgrimage to Liverpool and drove around with my parents (I was still at junior school at the time) to Menlove Avenue, Strawberry Fields, and Penny Lane. We saw the Magical Mystery Tour bus and the “Beatle City” exhibition. I’ve read books on Lennon’s life and in spite of his drug problems and dabbling with heroin (allegedly) he was a great musician and a major songwriter.

Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.
It’s getting hard to be someone but it all works out, it doesn’t matter much to me

The irony of the murder is that Mark David Chapman just wanted to be someone, and there it is. He is the man who killed John Lennon, and his name is making headlines 25 years later.

Image credit: Spud Murphy © Yoko Ono Lennon
Lyrics: Strawberry Fields Forever – John Lennon and Paul McCartney


  1. I remember exactly what I was doing at the time this was announced. Sitting in my parents living room, everyone was so shocked.I can picture that living room right know, I haven’t thought of that house for years.

    I was too young at the time to understand the importance of John Lennon on the world music scene, that came later…

  2. Simon

    8/12/2005 at 4:09 pm

    I remember the announcement very vaguely, I was very young in 1980 and living in a house that the family moved out of in 1983 I think. I was already aware of who John Lennon was, but not how important he was. My main memory of that house was the old TV with a sonic remote control (high pitched sounds changed the channels) and the old radio cassette deck that I heard that news on.

    I especially remember the songs Imagine and Woman playing on the radio over Christmas. I think they both made the top of the charts, or very close to it. Imagine was number 1 and Woman number 3 or something similar.

  3. Did you read what I posted today?

  4. Simon

    9/12/2005 at 9:41 am

    Just caught up with it now. I’d say it’s recommended reading for anyone who doesn’t know your site.


  5. Once again I donned all black as my silent tribue (I’m a dork, I know). The Beatles have also had a profound effect on my life, and although I’m more of “Paul” person I do love John’s work and life as well. It’s a sad sad thing. I didn’t really know the importance of what had happened when he was shot (I was 7) but I kind of had a feeling that something BIG had gone down. I obviously began to understand it more later as I grew to appreciate his music.

    Interesting…a Paul McCartney song just came on the radio…

  6. Why, thank you, Fruey.

  7. Simon

    9/12/2005 at 6:54 pm


    I’m probably more of a “Paul” person too. I’ve even seen him live a couple of times, and I have more of his solo stuff. His recent book “Many Years From Now” is inevitably tilted towards McCartney but shows how important his contribution really was. The two really were a songwriting pair in the beginning though: each inspiring the other, and pushing the limits. Without Lennon there would have been no McCartney.


    You’re welcome!


  8. Very true – ying & yang wouldn’t you say? I’ve seen Paul 4 times now!! (most recently the Back in the US tour just this past October – fantastic! Best show yet).


  9. I remember the people wailing, the news blaring, the radio playing. Lennon’s death, and Elvis’. And I couldn’t quite figure out what the deal was. Hard to believe I have children the age I was when these events occured. I suppose they’ll remember things like 9/11 in a similar fashion. Time is odd.

  10. Simon

    10/12/2005 at 2:35 pm


    Lucky you to see him 4 times. I just don’t get the time to go to concerts these days…


    Time sure is odd. The older you get, the weirder it feels. To have memories from 25 years ago fixed in my mind like it was just yesterday makes me feel old and nostalgic. That must sound terribly pretentious to those who remember even more distant events like the moon landings.


  11. The Channel 4 documentary shown on the night of the anniversary, hailing some ‘exclusive access’ to Chapman a journalist had achieved, was fairly repellent and depressing. Offered very little insight into what was hysterically hyped as the ‘mystery’ of his motive, in between long, tedious, entirely-unilluminating self-indulgence from the killer himself.
    Hardly seemed an engaging, well-judged way to mark the memory of John Lennon. Mere vindication of Chapman’s fame fantasies… Very frustrating.

    On a cheerier note, am keeping my fingers, arms, legs, toes all crossed for another Macca tour in the UK sometime soon, especially after such a stunning album… Have seen him three times – 1990 at Wembley, 1993 and 2002 at Earls Court – the most spectacular shows I’ve ever enjoyed…

  12. Simon

    22/12/2005 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Aidan,

    Living in France, I didn’t see the C4 documentary, although their efficient international sales department will probably sell the rights to translate and air it here in a late night spot on a channel like Arte. Just like the conclusion of my article says, Chapman indeed succeeded in making himself a dark figure of history.

    I hope Macca’s tour will be coming to France, I’ll be trying to grab tickets. In fact, looking up tour dates now :-).

    Glad to see you here, do drop back in from time to time.