John Lennon Was Murdered 36 Years Ago Today
I remember it clearly - I was 17 years old, and just a few months into my first radio job. Back then, a teletype machine churned out the news of the day. When something important occurred, a bell accompanied the clack-clack-clack of the teletype. On the night of December 8, 1980, the bells went haywire and the teletype spewed reams of newsprint on the floor. "DATELINE: New York City. Former Beatle John Lennon shot outside his Manhattan apartment. Assailant in custody." Shortly thereafter, came the news that Lennon was dead.
In today's multimedia world, it is hard for younger folks to understand the impact Lennon and the Beatles had on our culture. Their impact went beyond music to influence fashion, hairstyles, and even political attitudes. Lennon, more so than any of the other Beatles, used his celebrity to push for peace, becoming even more outspoken after leaving the band. The murder of such an icon of love and peace made the tragedy that much more horrific.
In the weeks before his death, Lennon had released the 'Double Fantasy' album, his first new work in almost 5 years, and his last. The album rocketed to the #1 position. Nostalgia for Beatles music, and 1960's-era music swept the nation.
I have always believed that this tragic event set the stage for the mood and mindset of the nation throughout the early 1980's, informed by a yearning for a decade that empowered so many, and changed the face of the country.
36 years later, the sound of the teletype bells, and the back-to-back Beatles song I played on the air through the night, are as fresh in my mind as yesterday.