In the 1960s, the Beatles exploded onto the music scene, and they would spend the decade pushing the boundaries of music and redefining the world celebrity. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were all young men when they set out to conquer the world, and they wasted little time in taking over their native England before crossing the pond and dominating the United States. The band could do no wrong during the 1960s, and as they progressed musically and spiritually, the decade moved right along with them. After Lennon began dating artist and fellow musician Yoko Ono, many felt that this was the beginning of the end for the world's biggest band. In 1970, the boys called it a career, and each member of the band set out to pursue other musical endeavors, each finding a ton of success on their own. Lennon, in particular, had created an entirely new tidal wave of popularity with his solo music and his philanthropic endeavors.
On December 8, 1980, Lennon was carrying on about his day with his wife Yoko, and what happened that evening would shake the world to its core. Lennon was assassinated by a man named Mark David Chapman outside of his hotel in New York City. He was heading upstairs to say goodnight to his son Sean, but Lennon would be gunned down by a deranged fan instead. It has since become one of the most shocking moments in history, and the world mourned the loss of a true genius. These 15 disturbing facts will give you a little more insight into the assassination of John Lennon.
15 Lennon Had Done A Photoshoot For Rolling Stone Magazine Earlier That Day
In what has easily become one of the most iconic photos of the legendary musician, the photo that graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine was taken early on in the day that John Lennon was assassinated. Originally, Yoko Ono was not supposed to be in the photo, but upon Lennon’s request, she was included. The photo, showing a nude John Lennon with his body draped around his beloved wife, was snapped by photographer Annie Leibovitz. One month after his tragic death, the photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono would be released on the January 1981 cover of Rolling Stone. After the photo shoot concluded, Lennon and Ono gave an interview that was slated to be broadcast on RKO Radio Network.
This photo is a painful reminder that later in the day, Lennon would be killed by deranged fan Mark David Chapman. It shows that famed couple looking happy, and unknowingly sharing their last few hours together.
14 Double Fantasy Came Out Three Weeks Before His Death
Three weeks before his tragic death, John Lennon would release his studio album Double Fantasy, which features some of his most popular songs. Double Fantasy was initially met with critical backlash, but the death of Lennon shifted people’s opinions, and the album currently holds some favorable critiques. Due to Lennon’s death, the album sold an incredible number of units around the world, and it has been certified 3x platinum in the United States for sales of over 3 million units. In 1982, Double Fantasy would go on to win the coveted Album of the Year Award at the Grammys, and he received two other nominations that same evening. The album would also be included on the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s list by Rolling Stone.
Double Fantasy, while not considered in the same league as Imagine, is a classic record that is a fan-favorite. “(Just Like) Starting Over” is perhaps one of the most famous songs on the album.
13 He Was In The Studio Mixing The Song “Walking On Thin Ice”
After concluding their legendary photoshoot and giving RKO Radio their interview, Lennon and Yoko continued their day as if it were any other, and headed over to a studio to mix their song “Walking on Thin Ice.” While technically an Ono track, Lennon provided his guitar talents to the song, and he helped produce it as well. It would be on their way back to their hotel room that the duo’s lives would change forever. Chapman would shoot and fatally wound Lennon, who was holding onto a copy of the final mix for the song at the time of his murder.
“Walking on Thin Ice” would see its release about a month after the passing of John Lennon. Upon its release, “Walking on Thin Ice” would go on to find success on the charts, and was praised by critics. It reached as high as the 13th spot on the Billboard US Hot Dance Club Songs.
12 Mark David Chapman Had Gone To New York To Kill Lennon Once Before
Mark David Chapman, the vile man that robbed the world of a musical genius, had been plotting to kill John Lennon for quite some time. It is common knowledge that Chapman was waiting outside of Lennon’s hotel room with other fans the day that he murdered the musician, but few know that he had gone to New York to murder him once before. Hailing from Honolulu, Hawaii, Chapman had flown to New York City two months earlier with the intention to murder Lennon. Instead, Chapman had a change of heart, and decided to head back to his home in Hawaii. He then decided to head back to New York after the release of Lennon’s album Double Fantasy, and murdered Lennon in cold blood.
No one will truly understand the mind of a madman, and Chapman’s decision to murder John Lennon is one of the most puzzling mysteries in recent memory.
11 Earlier That Year, Lennon Said He Still Loved His Beatles Bandmates
It is no secret that the demise of the Beatles saw the former bandmates become quite bitter towards each other. They seemed to rotate their feelings about each other frequently, showing love and support some days, and a complete lack of caring on others. John Lennon and Paul McCartney, in particular, had the most strained relationship at times. The duo was responsible for penning the Beatles' most famous tunes, and years of playing together while trying to be the creative force behind the band left many scars on them. Given Lennon’s change after bringing Yoko into the fold, many believe that there was tension because Paul allegedly blamed her for breaking up the band. So, it may come as a surprise to some that earlier in the year before he died, Lennon, during an interview, expressed his love for his former bandmates.
The Beatles reunion that never was is something that fans will always wonder about. Sure, the members of the group played together at various points during their solo careers, but a Beatles reunion never happened, leading many to wonder what could have been.
10 Lennon Autographed An Album For His Killer
During the course of his last day, John Lennon had two separate interactions with Mark David Chapman, and the first one was before he went to mix the song “Walking on Thin Ice.” During that infamous meeting, Chapman approached Lennon before he got into his limousine to have him sign a copy of the album Double Fantasy. The album had been released a few weeks before Lennon was gunned down, and it gave Chapman the ability to blend in with other fans who were waiting for Lennon outside of his apartment. People waiting outside of Lennon’s apartment for autographs was nothing new to the musician, and he didn’t seem to mind taking a moment for the fans.
Lennon’s son, Sean, was with his father during his first meeting with Chapman, and an old rumor suggests that Chapman touched his son’s hand. It would be the second meeting that day in which Chapman killed John Lennon.
9 Chapman Shot Lennon In The Back
After getting Lennon’s autograph a few hours earlier, Chapman patiently waited for him to return to his apartment. Lennon was on his way back into his apartment building when Chapman allegedly called out to him, dropped down into what is called a combat stance, and he unloaded several shots into his back. There have been conflicting reports about how the events played out, but Chapman has maintained his dropping into a combat stance. In total, 5 shots were fired from Chapman’s gun, 4 of which struck Lennon. The shots, even by themselves, all could have been lethal to Lennon. As he bled out on the floor of the hotel, Chapman was stripped of his weapon, and patiently waited for law enforcement to arrive and take him away.
Killing one of the world’s most celebrated musicians was bad enough, but shooting Lennon from behind made it exponentially worse. Chapman was a coward who didn’t have the nerve to face Lennon face-to-face.
8 Chapman Was Holding A Copy Of Catcher In The Rye When He Was Arrested
In what has become one of the more infamous facts about the death of John Lennon, Mark David Chapman was holding a copy of the novel The Catcher in the Rye when he was detained by law enforcement. This novel has been involved in several famous shootings, and it all began the fateful evening that John Lennon was killed. The book is what inspired Chapman to kill Lennon, and he identified with the lead character from the novel. Inside the copy that Chapman was holding when was arrested, he had written the words, “This is my statement” and signed the novel’s lead character's name. While in court during his sentencing, Chapman read a passage from the novel.
His obsession over Lennon and the novel made his plans for murder clear in his mind. He had several other people on his hit list, with Lennon being the only target he actually killed.
7 His Death Was Announced On Monday Night Football
Typically, celebrity news and happenings don’t make their way into the sports world, but John Lennon was no ordinary celebrity. As a member of the Beatles, Lennon had long been among the most famous people in the world, and the news of his death sent shockwaves throughout the world. At the time, all of the other members of the band were still alive, and Lennon was only 40 when he was killed by Mark David Chapman. Because of his status in the world of pop culture, John Lennon’s death was so shocking and important that it was announced during a live broadcast of Monday Night Football. Famed broadcaster Howard Cosell delivered the devastating news to the viewing audience as the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins were duking it out.
Outside of Monday Night Football, Lennon’s death was announced on many shows that were airing during that time slot, and the news of it all shook the world.
6 “All My Loving” Played In The Hospital When Lennon Died
After paramedics arrived to the hotel that Lennon was shot in front of, he was quickly rushed to St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center in an attempt to save his life. Lennon lacked any sort of pulse and was not breathing by the time that he arrived at the hospital. Their attempts, sadly, were unsuccessful, and Lennon would be pronounced dead-on-arrival. Multiple witnesses who were there in the moments that Lennon was pronounced dead all claim that the Beatles song “All My Loving” was playing through the speakers in the hospital. Earlier in the year that he died, Lennon, in an interview with Playboy, gave a positive opinion about the song.
Despite not being released as a single in the United States, the song garnered a ton of airplay, even charting on the Billboard Hot 100. Due to its connection with Lennon’s death, the song grew in popularity, and is a critically acclaimed song.
5 Several Fans Committed Suicide After Lennon’s Death
The death of John Lennon not only affected his family and friends, but it also had huge repercussions on the music industry and his fans. Lennon’s music helped change the landscape of the music industry, and he was a voice of a generation. The impact of his music and legacy are still felt to this very day. Sadly, the news of Lennon’s death was too much for some people to bear, and there are several fans that actually committed suicide because of Lennon’s assassination. Ono had to issue a public statement to address the suicides, and insisted that people refrain from doing so. It was hard enough for the world to deal with the death of John Lennon, and having several suicides resulting from his murder made matters harder on everyone, especially their families.
It is not often that fans kill themselves after the death of a celebrity, but Lennon was no ordinary person. His forward-thinking was an attempt to change the world, and fans couldn’t stand to live in a world without him.
4 Milk And Honey Was Released 4 Years After His Death
Double Fantasy was the last album that John Lennon released while he was alive, and his next studio album wouldn’t see a release for another 4 years. Milk and Honey was comprised of tracks that didn’t make the cut for Double Fantasy, and some that were recorded after the album’s sessions were completed. The cover for Milk and Honey is of Lennon and Ono, and was taken during the same photoshoot that produced the album cover for Double Fantasy. Lennon has had many posthumous releases since his death in 1980, but Milk and Honey was the last studio album.
Milk and Honey was released in January of 1984, and received some average reviews from music critics. The album sold fairly well around the world, and it received a gold certification from the RIAA for sales of 500,000 units. It includes the songs “Nobody Told Me” and “Borrowed Time,” with the former being incredibly successful.
3 Lennon Received A Lifetime Achievement Award At The 1991 Grammys
During their greatest heights, the Beatles were no strangers to being showered with praise and awards. They dominated the 1960s, and no band has since come close to rivaling the epic way that the Beatles conquered the world. During their time together, the Beatles won a total of 6 Grammy Awards, which may seem like a relatively low number considering their massive amounts of success. Nevertheless, the band won many other awards, and solidified themselves as the biggest band of all-time. Because the Grammys hold the most prestige in the United States, it is important to note that 11 years after his death, John Lennon was awarded a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
As a band, the Beatles would have to wait until 2014 to get their Lifetime Achievement Award. By that time, both John Lennon and George Harrison had passed away, leaving Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as the only surviving members of the band.
2 There Are Several Memorials For Lennon Throughout The World
After his death shocked the world, John Lennon was remembered through various tributes and memorials around the world. The Capitol Records building in Hollywood holds a memorial for Lennon each year on the day that he was murdered, and Ono lights a candle in the window of his old apartment. In Japan, there is a John Lennon museum, which pays tribute to the amazing life that he had. The Strawberry Fields Memorial is in Central Park, New York, and there is a tribute to him in Prague as well. In 2006, a Lennon tribute was installed in Mexico, and 2007 saw a building in Iceland be dedicated to his memory. Many countries throughout the world also have street names dedicated to Lennon, showing the true reach of his music and genius.
The occasional memorial or statue is nothing new to influential people who die, but the sheer amount of love for Lennon around the world is nearly unparalleled.
1 Mark David Chapman Is Still In Prison
The last fact on our list should come as no surprise to anyone, but we feel that it is important to mention. To this day, murderer Mark David Chapman is still serving time in prison for his actions that fateful evening in New York. Chapman was initially up for parole back in 2000, and has since been denied parole on 9 separate occasions. He is being held at Wende Correctional Facility in New York, and the chances of him seeing the light of day again are virtually nonexistent. Yoko Ono has done her best over the years to keep Chapman locked up, and her efforts have not been in vain. His next parole hearing is scheduled for August 2018.
John Lennon’s murder will forever be one of the most shocking moments in history, and the ripple effects of his loss are still felt around the world to this very day. His music, beliefs, and death changed the world, and John Lennon will forever be remembered and honored by fans and fellow musicians until the end of time.