30 years ago today John Lennon was shot, assassinated, by Mark David Chapman in front of the Dakota in NYC.
This is one of those “I remember where I was” moments. A number of us were hanging out in my buddy Jeff’s basement back in New Jersey having a bit of a party. We were all going to the county college at the time and decided we needed our own floating fraternity. From time to time we partied at Jeff’s. His parents were cool, his brother’s band practiced in the basement. Mainly space jams, Grateful Dead, New Riders with the occasional Lou Reed tune thrown in. (Anything that had drug references in the lyrics of course.)
There was smoking and drinking and of course grass and various other mind altering kicks. The basement was covered in sheets of those commercial egg cartons to spare the neighbors.
I barely remember the phone ringing and Jeff was told his dad was on the phone.
Jeff’s dad spent a lot of time in “the City” and was calling from a bar around the corner from the Dakota. Jeff came downstairs and told us the news. John Lennon was shot in front of the Dakota. It hadn’t even been on the radio yet. We didn’t believe him. We were shocked. Some time later it hit the news.
Up to that point John Lennon had been a huge part of our lives. He was always there it seemed. From early Beatlemania on to the Bed-in and beyond. He was just John. Not John Lennon or Lennon. Just John. Like a family member or an older friend.
He’d just released Double Fantasy barely a month before and it was the best thing he’d done in a long time. It was his first release in what? Five years?
“I’m Losing You” seems almost prophetic now.
The party broke up, we had all lost our mood and many of us the buzz.
The following day a few of us gathered in the booth at the college radio station. We silenced the air waves for the day and played sets for ourselves of John’s music from the Beatles on.
We lost an Icon. He was more than just our Elvis. (He never got fat and he didn’t do Vegas.) He went out when his wave was beginning to crest again and it wasn’t of his own doing like Janis and Jim.
Chapman not only killed a man but he robbed the world.
Strawberry Fields Forever…