It is almost the 42nd anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. The former member of The Beatles was shot and killed outside his apartment complex, The Dakota, in New York City, on December 8, 1980. He was assassinated by crazed fan Mark Chapman. Before his death, he spoke with his wife, Yoko Ono, about what he wanted to do that evening.
Lennon and Ono had spent the day together. Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz attended their apartment that day to take photos of them for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. After that, Lennon gave what would be his final interview for RKO Radio. Shortly thereafter, the pair went to mix Ono’s song, Walking on Thin Ice, which featured Lennon on lead guitar, at the Record Plant.
Lennon and Ono returned to The Dakota around 10:50pm that evening, where the Imagine singer was attacked and killed.
In 2007, Ono opened up about Lennon’s final words to her. She remembered the traumatic evening during her appearance on BBC’s Desert Island Discs. Ono remembered asking Lennon: “Shall we go and have dinner before we go home?”
Lennon replied with a thoughtful comment about his son, Sean Ono Lennon.
Sean recalled: “I didn’t find out until a few days later. I remember it really clearly, someone saying my mom wants to talk to me. I had to go into the bedroom, and my mom was in bed.”
He recalled that Ono had been in “bed for days” – obviously overcome with grief about witnessing the death of her loved one first-hand.
“I remember kind of glancing at a headline on a newspaper,” Sean went on. “I could barely read; I didn’t really know what it meant.”
Eventually, Ono told him: “Your dad’s dead.” He went on: “She said it really straight up, like that: ‘He’s been killed.’ I remember really wanting to be mature about it for some reason. I said: ‘Don’t worry, mom, you’re still young. You’ll find somebody.’ Which was an intense thing to say, when I think about it. But that’s what I said. She’ll verify that. And she said: ‘Well, I’m glad you feel that way about it.’ Then I ran into my bedroom, because I didn’t want her to see me cry. I didn’t want to admit that it was hard.”
Lennon did not have a funeral. Instead, Ono held a private cremation with immediate family and friends. She scattered his ashes in Central Park, New York, in view of the apartment they shared together. Later on, the Strawberry Fields memorial was placed there.
On December 14, 1980, Ono held a vigil for Lennon in Central Park. She then held a ten-minute silence for the singer.
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