[Fox News] Beatles legend John Lennon assassinated 43 years ago: What to know

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John Lennon, the legendary Beatles member and one of the most influential musicians of all time, was assassinated 43 years ago on Dec. 8, 1980. 

The British-born singer died at the age of 40 after being shot in front of his apartment building, The Dakota, in New York City. 

The shooter was a deranged fan named Mark David Chapman, who fired four bullets from a .38-caliber revolver into Lennon’s back and shoulder, hours after the rock star signed an autograph for him.

“I’m shot,” Lennon said in his last words before collapsing on the ground, according to witnesses.

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Prior to his death, Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono were returning to their apartment after a recording session. Chapman shot the singer at approximately 10:50 p.m. as he was walking through the entryway of The Dakota, according to The Associated Press.

Less than 10 minutes later, Lennon was taken by a police car to Manhattan’s Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival. New York City Medical Examiner Elliot Gross told The Washington Post Lennon was shot twice in the back and twice in the shoulder, and his cause of death was “massive hemorrhaging and shock.”

“An unspeakable tragedy,” legendary sports host Howard Cosell told the nation near midnight, interrupting the dramatic final seconds of a Monday Night Football broadcast

“John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York, the most famous perhaps of all the Beatles, shot twice in the back. Rushed to Roosevelt Hospital. Dead on arrival.”

Cosell’s dramatic words spoken on national television, decades before the internet spread news instantly, were the first many Americans heard of the celebrated musician’s death. The world learned soon after initial reports that Lennon was actually shot four times.

An estimated 100,000 Beatles fans flooded The Dakota and Central Park in the hours after the tragedy for a tear-filled vigil that shut down traffic across several blocks of Manhattan. 

Lennon is survived by Ono now 90, and their two sons Sean, now 60, and Julian, now 48. In a 2007 interview with BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Ono recalled suggesting getting dinner after she and Lennon left the studio on the night of his death. 

“No, let’s go home because I want to see Sean before he goes to sleep,” Lennon told Ono. Those were his final words to her.

Over the past year, new developments in Lennon’s death have emerged. Here’s a look at what to know. 

Mark David Chapman was 25 years old when he murdered Lennon. The unemployed security guard from Hawaii reportedly began planning the murder three months earlier and flew to New York City to commit the crime. According to The Washington Post, Chapman confessed immediately after shooting the musician.

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“I just shot John Lennon,” Chapman told a doorman at The Dakota. The gunman remained on the scene and was arrested. In June 1981, Chapman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and he was sentenced to 20 years to life in August of that year.

In September 2022, Chapman was denied parole for the 12th time. During his parole hearing in August 2022, Chapman told the board he killed Lennon because he was seeking fame and knew that his actions were evil at the time, according to The Associated Press.

Chapman said the decision to kill Lennon was “my big answer to everything. I wasn’t going to be a nobody, anymore.”

“I am not going to blame anything else or anybody else for bringing me there,” Chapman said. “I knew what I was doing, and I knew it was evil. I knew it was wrong, but I wanted the fame so much that I was willing to give everything and take a human life.

“This was evil in my heart. I wanted to be somebody, and nothing was going to stop that,” he added to the board. “I hurt a lot of people all over the place, and if somebody wants to hate me, that’s OK. I get it.”

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The board denied Chapman’s request for parole, citing his “selfish disregard for human life of global consequence.”

In addition, the board noted Chapman’s actions left “the world recovering from the void of which you created.” 

Chapman’s next parole board appearance is scheduled for February 2024.

On Nov. 1, the surviving members of The Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, released the band’s final song, which included contributions from all four members following the group’s breakup in 1974 and Lennon’s death.

“Now and Then” featured vocals from Lennon and guitar performed by the late George Harrison, recorded six years before he died from lung cancer at the age of 58 in 2001.

According to a press release for the song, Lennon recorded two demo cassette tapes with vocals and piano in the late 1970s while living at The Dakota.

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In 1994, Ono gave McCartney two cassette tapes with demo recordings of Lennon’s unfinished and unreleased songs. McCartney, Starr and Harrison were able to record two songs based on one of the cassette tapes, “Real Love” and “Free As a Bird,” which were released in 1995. 

The two songs on the other tape were “Now and Then” and “Grow Old With Me.” The latter song was released in 1984 on the Beatles’ album “Milk and Honey,” the band’s sixth and final studio album that featured posthumous recordings by Lennon.

McCartney, Starr and Harrison tried to record “Now and Then,” but the audio quality of Lennon’s vocals and piano was too poor. 

However, the 2021 release of “The Beatles: Get Back” docuseries, directed by Peter Jackson, allowed for a renewed attempt to finish the song. In the series, Jackson’s team was able to “de-mix” the original film’s mono soundtrack, isolating instruments, vocals and the individual voices of the Beatles in conversations.

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The team applied the same technique to Lennon’s home recordings, and McCartney and Starr added new bass and drums along with guitar previously recorded by Harrison in 1995.

“There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear,” McCartney said in a statement. “It’s quite emotional. And we all play on it. It’s a genuine Beatles recording. In 2023, to still be working on Beatles music, and about to release a new song the public haven’t heard, I think it’s an exciting thing.” 

Ringo Starr said, “It was the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room. So, it was very emotional for all of us. It was like John was there, you know. It’s far out.”

A three-part documentary, “John Lennon: Murder Without A Trial,” was released by Apple TV+ Dec. 6. The series, which examines Lennon’s death and the events leading up to his murder, featured interviews with eyewitnesses, some of whom were speaking publicly for the first time.

Jay Hastings, who worked as a concierge at the front desk of the Dakota, gave his first-ever interview about the night of Lennon’s death. When asked why he had finally decided to speak about Lennon’s death, Hastings said, “Time’s passed. We’re on the record. Once and done.” 

Hastings recounted the immediate aftermath of the shooting and revealed Lennon’s final words.

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“He runs past me. He goes, ‘I’m shot,'” Hastings recalled in the series, via the New York Post. “He had blood coming out of his mouth. He just collapsed on the floor. I half-rolled him to his back and took his glasses off, put them on the desk. And Yoko was screaming, ‘Get an ambulance, get an ambulance, get an ambulance.'”

Richard Peterson, a taxi driver who was parked in front of the Dakota at the time of the murder, recalled watching as Chapman approached Lennon before shooting him.

“Lennon was walking in, and this kid says, ‘John Lennon.’ He was a chunky guy. I’m looking at him through the front window of my cab. I’m looking at him shoot him. This guy just shot John Lennon,” Peterson said, according to The Telegraph.

“I thought they were making a movie, but I didn’t see no lights or cameras or anything. So, I realized, ‘Hey, this ain’t no movie,’” he added.

Another taxi driver, Mark Snyder, remembered driving Chapman on the day of Lennon’s murder. 

“The first thing he said to me was, ‘I’m a producer for the Rolling Stones. I just got back from a recording session with the Beatles. They all got back together again,’” Snyder said in a clip from the docuseries.

“What am I gonna say to that? ‘OK, yeah, sure.'”

Snyder recalled that Chapman was “flipping through this book madly. It was a notebook, and I looked in the rearview mirror, and there was nothing but empty pages.”

After dropping Chapman off at his stop, Snyder said his passenger walked around to the driver’s side window to pay his fare.

“He said, ‘My name is Mark David Chapman,'” Snyder recalled. “‘You’ll remember my name.’”

Fox News Digital’s Kerry J. Byrne and Elizabeth Stanton contributed to this report.

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