Wednesday, December 8, 2010

John Lennon: Remembering John Lennon's Death Thirty Years Ago

John Lennon rehearses Give Peace A Chance by R...Image via WikipediaBy Jimmy Hall

December the 8th, 1980 was a Monday. Former Beatle and artist, writer, singer, activist, and solo singer and musician John Lennon was tragically murdered that night. As a young and somewhat naive 19 year-old in love with his lovely 17 year-old girlfriend, I was working a 4pm to 2:30am shift at a local Arrow Shirt Company Plant just across the expressway from Six Flags Over Georgia, so I had long weekends. I was spreading cloth.

Returning from my 12:30am break, a Beatles song was playing on the radio in one of the noisy cutting areas, and John Lennon was singing lead. I commented to one of the pickup men that I loved the song. Then he startled me with the words, "I believe John Lennon was killed tonight; they have been playing many of his songs." I was absolutely stunned. Still, the employee was not 100% certain. I held-out some hope, and no one else knew anything definite. I hoped it was a rumor. Time passed very slowly.

I rode back and forth to work with the son of the man that ran the entire plant, not just our cutting department, and we both scanned the radio while traveling I-20 West on the way home, and we did hear a couple of John Lennon songs. Then came the words, "...tonight's tragedy in New York City. John Lennon was shot dead in front of his Dakota Apartment Building." The dread was now a reality.

Arriving home at 2:55am, my folks were up, as usual, fixing to listen to the old Larry King Radio Program on Mutual Radio. I immediately walked up the stairs and muttered, "John Lennon was assassinated tonight," before heading to the table for my usual 3am supper. John Lennon's death at the hands of Mark David Chapman was Larry's subject. I still recall how well Mr. King handled that program that night. He was so totally respectful, and was overcome by the reaction to John Lennon's death. He purposely did not have his usual funny callers and things. It was well done. People cried.

John Lennon's death was the first of the big news celebrity deaths. Not even Elvis' demise 3 1/2 years earlier was covered to this extent, as our society was just then entering the modern news age (David Brinkley even hesitated about mentioning Elvis' death in the first two minutes of the national newscast in 1977). Indeed, the worldwide outpouring of love and affection for John, Yoko, and his children was unexpected (the second big news story that night was of a potential hostage deal from Iran).

At any rate, I listened to Larry King and his listeners talk about John Lennon all night, even the rebroadcast. At about 5am I called my girlfriend, on double-sessions in her senior year of high school an hour away in Lilburn, Georgia. She had read two of Lennon's books, and was also devastated. I agreed to be there when she got out of school about 11am, and was. Together we bought numerous Lennon and Beatles' albums at NorthLake Mall. I actually had tears in my eyes driving there. I think I also had my headlights on in his honor.

Going into work on that Tuesday afternoon was not easy, since I wanted to learn more and more about John Lennon and the situation. A kind older black co-worker, with a few missing fingers, came-up to me (a white kid) and said he was sorry about what happened to Mr. Lennon the night before. I was genuinely touched by his sentiment and concern. Thirty years later, I still remember John Lennon's death as if it happened last week. Unlike millions of others, I did not hear Howard Cosell's account of John's death on Monday Night Football until a long while later.

John Lennon, 1940-1980.

I'm Jimmy Hall, a freelance writer outside of Atlanta that specializes in business and corporate writing, website and webpage search engine optimization, general web-writing, professional projects, press releases, business letters, college coursework help, ad-columns, articles, and essays. I can help you or your organization at a reasonable fee or rate. Phone: 404-580-1501 Webpage:

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