Death of John Lennon

Publicity photo of John Lennon and host Tom Snyder from the television program Tomorrow. Aired in 1975, this was the last television interview Lennon gave before his death in 1980.
Publicity photo of John Lennon and host Tom Snyder from the television program “Tomorrow.” Aired in 1975, this was the last television interview Lennon gave before his death in 1980. (NBC Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.

Here are some things you may not have known about that horrible day.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono had spent the day participating in a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Following the photo shoot, Lennon gave a radio interview and then headed to the Record Plant Studio to work on Ono’s song “Walking on Thin Ice.” The couple had released their album “Double Fantasy” three weeks earlier. The album featured the hits “Watching The Wheels,” “Woman,” and “(Just Like) Starting Over.”

On his way out the door of the Dakota apartment building on the west side of New York’s Central Park, Lennon autographed a copy of his latest album for a man waiting outside. The man would later be identified as Mark David Chapman. After working on the song, Ono and Lennon returned to the Dakota where Chapman was waiting in the shadows of the archway entrance to the building. From a distance of about 10 feet, Chapman drew a .38 caliber revolver and fired five times at Lennon. The first shot missed, the second two hit Lennon in the left side of his back and the final two hit him in the left shoulder.

The doorman at the Dakota summoned police, while Chapman dropped his gun and sat down on the sidewalk waiting to be arrested. The police arrived and saw that there wasn’t time to wait for an ambulance, so they rushed Lennon to Roosevelt Hospital in their police car. Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:15 p.m. The doctor who tried to resuscitate him later said if Lennon had been shot in same way in the middle of an operating room with a team of surgeons ready to work on him, he still wouldn’t have survived his injuries.

Many Americans heard the news of Lennon’s death during that evening’s “Monday Night Football” game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins. As the seconds wound down during a tie game, news of Lennon’s death reached announcers Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford. Here is what transpired between the two announcers during a commercial break, from a segment on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”:

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Following the first play after the break, Cosell made the memorable and tragic announcement.

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Chapman pleaded guilty to murdering Lennon and was sentenced to 20 years-to-life in prison. He has been denied parole eight times since becoming eligible in 2000.

Lennon and Ono’s album “Double Fantasy” went on to win the Grammy for Album of the Year.

Our question, what is the name of the Central Park memorial to John Lennon?

Today is National Youth Day in Albania and Constitution Day in Romania and Uzbekistan. It’s National Brownie Day and Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day. It’s the birthday of Mary, Queen of Scots, and singers Sammy Davis Jr., and Jim Morrison.


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