ALL THOSE YEARS AGO:
In Memory of JOHN LENNON
by B. D. POE
On the afternoon of December 8th, 1980, John Lennon signed
an autograph for a man who would later return to steal the
very spirit of the 60s. That evening a crazed fan, Mark Chapman-
the very embodiment of Happiness is a Warm Gun- dashed any
hopes of a future Beatles reunion, by firing several shots
point-blank into John's chest.
Ironically, this was in the city that John and Yoko had donated
bullet proof vests for police. It was in New York that John
felt free to walk the streets without harassment. A city that
welcomed the British rocker as one of their own.
As the Beatles founder slipped into eternity and a frantic
medical staff admitted defeat, echoing down the hallway
of Roosevelt Hospital could be heard the strains of
"All My Loving" and Yoko's grief filled response to the
doctors' apologies. "Oh no, No, Oh no!" she cried
according to ABC News executive Alan Wiess who happened
to be on scene.
I Heard The News Today-Oh Boy!
News wires around the world carried the New York City Police
spokesman's comment that to them the shooting was "as
important as the assassination of John F. Kennedy."
Radio stations provided news updates and commentaries
while playing John's music exclusively.
Rock Critic Lou O'Neil fought to maintain his composure
saying that " Lennon and McCartney single-handedly
shaped a generation in the 1960's that revolutionized not
only the music world-but also social lifestyles and political
involvements that went on into the 70's."
In the morning Newspapers special inserts appeared
depicting John Lennon as an artist, philosopher and
humanitarian. Posters and special editions appeared.
Clearly a living legend in his own time had died.
Come Together...Over Me
In Parks throughout the country fans mourned John's
passing. Bed sheets dripped with red painted peace signs.
Braided and beaded young women in tie dyes and peasant
shirts handed out flowers and candles. Guys in olive drab
army shirts sold Lennon T-shirts at cost. Incense and
marijuana wafted through the air. Those in attendance
shared a comradely and intimacy that exceeds many
Strangers embraced each other in tears offering mutual
support. A Lennon look a like played Beatles songs on his
guitar and everyone joined in on "Give Peace A Chance."
Nobody left the vigil without a hug or a kiss. John would
have been pleased.
They're Gonna Crucify Me...
Several Years later Elvis biographer Albert Goldman
released The Lives of John Lennon in which John was
portrayed as a wife beating, drug addicted, anorexic
homosexual rapist suffering from agoraphobia and
delusions of grandeur. The Rolling Stone, which featured
Lennon on its first cover in 1967, called Goldman's book
"a sleazy attack" and "character assassination."
What is it about society that deifies and defrocks
heros created by agnostics in search of a savior?
I Don't Believe In Elvis...
Like Bob Dylan whom John admired, he did much to
dispel his own mythological image and that of The
Beatles'. " We were just a pop group" he told Dick
In his last interview with Playboy, Lennon touched on
his own mortality and how he wished to be remembered:
"I have no desire to follow in the footsteps of entertainment
stars who died before their careers had ended and were
worshipped for it...and I don't want Sean to worship such
Through out his career, the thinking man's Beatle told
fans to be skeptical of leaders and mythical figures, to
take responsibility for their own actions, to be open and
honest believing in one's abilities to shape their world
remembering that "all you need is love."
Christ! You Know It Aint Easy...
Like most people John didn't always measure up to his
ideals. His life was riddled with let downs. Not knowing
his father, being passed back and forth between his mother
and aunt Mimi, loosing his mother to a drunk driver and
marital problems with Yoko. Occasionally he reacted with
anger and self abuse.
Yoko Ono's insisted on a year's separation from John and
sent him to Los Angeles with an Asian house girl to look
after him. this was John's so called "Lost Year." One
story has John interrupting a Smothers Brothers Show,
standing on a chair, drunkenly screaming "Doesn't
anyone know who I am?" and being forcefully removed
from the club. Later John admitted his codependence,
"I literally could not survive without (Yoko) her."
Turn Me On Dead Man
Although in previous interviews John denied engineering
the 1970 Paul Mc Cartney Death Hoax, he admitted in
his final Playboy interview that he created backwards
messages (back-masking) while he and Yoko played with
a tape machine.
Spanning 4 years of Beatles Art and Music are audio and
visual clues suggesting that Paul had "blew his mind out
in a car" and was replaced by "the one and only Billy
Shears" the supposed winner of a 1964 Mc Cartney
look a like contest. Paul played "Toe Jam Football" in
Come Together, he was " so good looking but so hard to
see" referring to Paul's stand in Mal Evans whose back it
is that is turned toward the camera when Paul missed the
Photo shoot for the back cover of Sgt. Peppers'.
The visual clues included Paul wearing a black flower when
the other Beatles wore red carnations in Magical Mystery
Tour, the funeral imagery, upside down model car and
American (toe jam) football trophy on the cover of
SGT. PEPPER's. The death clues on Abbey Road consisted
of the alleged backwards 3 some saw in front of the words
THE BEATLES on the cover. The Volkswagen license
plate read 28if, as in Paul would have been 28 if he had lived.
On the back cover only Paul is out of step. Explaining their
attire on the Back of Abbey Road; John is the Priest, Ringo the
Undertaker, Paul-holding a cigarette in his right hand (he was is
left handed!) and barefoot(allegedly a French burial custom circa
WWII), and George the GraveDigger are walking from a
cemetary to a church. Paul allegedly has his eyes closed.
I Am The Walrus...
Even the Walrus was a clue. Supposedly a dead walrus encountered
by an eskimo hunting Party was a harbinger of death, a bad omen,
for a hunting party. The O.P.D. armband on Paul's arm did not mean
Ontario Police Department but rather : Officially Pronounced Dead!
John's repetitious "Number Nine," the number of letters in
McCartney, is but one of the alleged audio clues. John sings in
Glass Onion " here's another clue for you all - the Walrus was Paul!"
yet it is John's vocal on "I Am The Walrus."
When the Death Hoax was uncovered by a college DJ and his girl friend
Paul's response was " You had better ask John about that one."
Was this John's way of making a fool out of Paul who had challenged
Lennon's leadership by asserting himself in production with George
Martin during Sgt. Pepper? Or was it an insurance policy for future
sales once home audio technology exposed the hidden clues???
Whatever the case, the animosity between John and Paul grew.
Ringo was so miffed by the infighting that he left the band during
the "White Album" sessions. The Beatles begged him back and
behaved-for a short while.
Early in 1970 the riff between John and Paul intensified. It was
John's intention to disband the Beatles. In April, McCartney
beat John Lennon to the punch, and announced his departure from
the group, thus stealing John's thunder. John publicly attacked Paul
in his solo cut How Can You Sleep? Legal entanglements followed.
Apple was cut in pieces.
And We All Shine On
Before his murder, John allegedly reached partial reconciliation
with Paul. Jokingly they considered taking up John Belushi's
ranting challenge to appear on Saturday Night Live.
After five years of silence, John recorded "Double Fantasy"
with his wife Yoko. His songs "Watching the Wheels" and
"Just Like Starting Over." received steady air play and John was
back on top-producing hits that recalled the rich, melodic and
introspective songs similar to "Imagine" and " Mind Games"of the
Enjoying himself and generally at peace with the world , back on top
in the days before his death John was enthusiastic about the future.
"Weren't the 70's a drag?" he said to reporters with an optimistic
All Across The Universe
Throughout his life John was fascinated by all things spiritual.
He used LSD and TM in attempts to "elevate" his consciousness
and expand his creativity.
When his 1966 comment about influencing more people and being more
"popular" than Jesus (in his day) was taken out of context by the
religious right who smashed his records and burned him in effigy,
John took his spiritual search elsewhere. "Jesus was alright," he said
"but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins
it for me."
In a letter to Rick Sklar, a New York radio executive, Lennon spoke
of the spiritual search. " Perhaps I'm trying to explain the inexplicable.
I don't think this kind of introspection is the luxury of the artist rich or
poor. I never believed in waiting until death's door before facing or
at least trying the eternal mysteries..." Face them he has - we can only
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