“I just shot John Lennon”
As one-quarter of the most successful pop group of all time, John Winston Lennon was responsible for great music and had a tongue that outraged as often as it pleased. In 1971 The Beatles were officially wound up and Lennon had a successful solo career with songs such as Give Peace A Chance, Happy Christmas (War Is Over) and Imagine. Then it all went silent for five years as he stayed at home to look after his new son, Sean, born in 1975.
In 1980 Lennon decided to restart his musical career and began recording songs once again. He released an album Double Fantasy. On 8 November 1980 his song (Just Like) Starting Over entered the UK charts.
Exactly one month later, at 10.52pm, as he was returning home from a recording session with Yoko Ono, a man called out “Mr Lennon” and as Lennon turned, deranged loner Mark David Chapman shot him five times in his arm and back with a .38 revolver. Jose Perdomo, the senior doorman, shouted, “Do you know what you have just done?” Chapman replied calmly, “I just shot John Lennon.”
The ex-Beatle stumbled up the six steps to the building and collapsed in the vestibule from where he was taken by police car to Roosevelt Hospital on 9th Avenue and 58th Street. He was pronounced dead at 11.07pm, from major blood loss.
Section A, The Dakota, 1 West 72nd Street, New York City, USA
10.30pm Monday 8 December 1980
Chapman had waited outside The Dakota all day and Lennon had even autographed a copy of Double Fantasy for him. The 25-year-old was obsessed with J. D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher In The Rye and believed that the ex-Beatle had “sold out”.
After the shooting he calmly read the book. Beatles fans congregated on Central Park and a section was renamed Strawberry Fields on 21 March 1984. Lennon was cremated at Hartsdale Crematorium in New York State. Chapman was diagnosed as schizophrenic and sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation he serve 24 years before being eligible for parole. He is still incarcerated.