John Lennon RIP – How I Heard the News

The history books will tell you that John Lennon was murdered on December 8th 1980 – but in the the UK it was early in the morning on the 9th.

I woke up late that morning, and didn’t put the radio on before going to school. I cycled to school as usual, not knowing anything had happened, only to be met by my best friend, and fellow Beatles fan, Dalton, who looked really angry, and was muttering about what some bastard had done to John Lennon. The then told me that John had been murdered. My first reaction was that it was another ‘Paul is dead’ type rumour, and that really he was OK.

However, that morning, the school assembly was taken by students, and they played ‘In My Life’ as a tribute to John. It’s there that the horrible fact really sank in. I also noticed that a lot of fellow students, and also staff, were moved by the announcement too.

After school, I went home and bought the evening newspapers, which had John on the front cover, and played Beatles/John songs for the rest of the day – only to stop to watch the many tributes to John on TV.

At the time, I had never been that affected by anyone’s death before.

Fast forward to 2007. My daughter Lilia, was born at approx 6am on December 9th. John Lennon was shot around 4am London time on December 9th 1980, and died about 2 hours later.

Take a sad song and make it better :>)

PS It certainly, wasn’t planned that Lilia was born at that time!


John Lennon at Kenwood. Photo - Marilyn Demmen

John Lennon at Kenwood.
Photo – Marilyn Demmen

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1 thought on “John Lennon RIP – How I Heard the News”

  1. Alan G Parker says:


    I had a paper round from about age 13 so I could buy more records…. The Beatles had been there for as long as I can remember at first on TDK tape compilations, often given to me by older lads in our area…. Everybody, but everybody met on ‘The Green’ a large patch of grass at the bottom of the street where we lived….Then on vinyl, were they shone…. On lots of vinyl, some times Japanese vinyl because the pressings were better…. Just like Liverpool has two Cathedrals (“We’ve got one to spare!”) so I had two pretty special places in my life, churches in their own way you might argue, Reidys Home Of Music (Cris seemed to second guess what you wanted, and he was good at it!) and Ames Records (nobody got the sellotape off a new release box faster than Donna or Sue!)….

    Two books by the late great Ray Coleman had (I feel) changed my life, ‘John Winston Lennon’ & ‘John Ono Lennon’…. I still have both original books, now long out of print, with the plastic dust jackets that my Grandma added to them, for safe keeping…. Beyond reading these books I felt closer to John, don’t ask me how? Not a clue, it just felt right…. I’d always thought he wrote ‘Nowhere Man’ just for me, while I was busy being bullied at an early age…. The fact that ‘A Day In The Life’ contained the line “4000 Holes in Blackburn, Lancashire” only helped cement my belief that John was trying to get a message to me personally…. Christ, I was screaming for a hero… A legend… An icon… Anyone!! So I picked The Beatle with the best comeback lines…. A wrestling dog indeed….

    He loved Lewis Carroll & Charles Dickens, a fact that shone in his writing, I loved them too and felt their books brought him closer to me…. When I left school and actually became a rock star myself, that was always the dream (I was the kid in the school yard with a different album under his arm everyday) we’d hang out together, drinking cappuccino at the coffee bar around the corner from The Dakota Building in NYC…. We’d discuss who’s albums were good, and who’s were garbage! It was on the cards we’d be firm friends! Least I thought it might be…. Everybody needs a dream… I started my own fanzine ‘4000 Holes From Blackburn, Lancashire’…. The tumbleweed blew across my home town, boozers with bad jukeboxes were no place to be, so we’d hang out where the cool one’s filled the air with their sounds…. Buzzcocks, The Alarm, The Jam, The Stranglers & UK Subs plus a cast of thousands played at King Georges Hall (while I had no clue what-so-ever, that these guys would actually be my friends one day!!)…. Local bands in my town popped up almost every week…. The Stiffs were kings (they signed to EMI for God’s sake), and 200 other musicians played amazing supporting roles, some of them impacting my life, and some not…. I was the kid who ended up promoting gigs and thus managing bands….

    By 1980 John Lennon had been away from the music scene for 5 years, a reclusive house-husband, loving NYC and his coffee, baking bread and raising a son (his second Sean Taro Ono Lennon)…. While ‘Mother’ looked after the business side of things…. ‘Mother’ was a Japanese conceptual artist and some time musician herself named Yoko Ono… She stumbled into John’s life in November 1966…. They had been pretty much joined at the hip since…. On November 17th 1980 Lennon released his comeback album ‘Double Fantasy’, I bought it from Reidys on release day, I wasn’t stampeded in any big rush by others trying to find it…. It had been preceded on October 20th by a single ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’ which I’d enjoyed, it was a good song, and John’s cod Elvis impression made me laugh…. I was surprised however by the fact that of the albums songs half were performed by John and the other half by Yoko…. Andy Peebles flew to NYC to interview John & Yoko for BBC Radio 1…. It was big news…. Rumour had it the Lennon’s were planning a world tour to take in much of 1981 and 1982…. He’d already informed his Aunty Mimi that they would be playing the UK, his first trip home in nearly a decade…. My friend, Bob Gruen was getting his cameras ready for a long trip….

    On December 9th 1980 the radio played lots of John Lennon here in the UK, maybe a little to much for an artist on the comeback trail, this had too be something bigger or way more serious…. My hero, the man I was going to find some kind of kinship with was lying in a New York hospital, stone dead, the victim of a man I refuse to name, and his equally ugly dumb-dumb bullets… ‘Double Fantasy’ was starting a journey to the number 1 spot across the globe, a fact that seemed almost impossible back in November…. ‘Imagine’ and ‘Happy Christmas (War Is Over)’ were selling by the wagon load…. John had three singles in the UK Top 10 the week of December 28th, held off the number 1 spot by St Winifrids School Choir and ‘Grandma’…. You can see him laughing at that, you just know he’d have seen the funny side…. The week of December 14th he’d been number 1 anyway with ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’ a single that had shot back up from number 21…. Amazing the effect rock n’ roll death has on people!
    I went to a candle light vigil in Liverpool, we all sang ‘Imagine’ and cried… I’ve been a frequent visitor to the city ever since….

    36 years ago today, and I still miss the man I never actually met…. “Through the London streets in a taxi cab, a radio plays an epitaph, Imagine, the dream is over. Oh I’ve been silent way too long, you never thought I knew what was going on, you probably think that you are in this song” – Thanks Mike P, cool words mate….

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