The Beatles Singer John Lennon Died on This Day in 1980: Remembering His Finals Days

by Liz Holland

Legendary singer of The Beatles, John Lennon, was assassinated on this day in 1980. The singer was shot by former security guard Mark David Chapman. Chapman was a Beatles fan angry at Lennon’s lavish lifestyle.

Chapman took inspiration for the assassination from the character Holden Caulfield in the novel Catcher in the Rye. He actually waited to meet Lennon outside The Dakota in New York City, where Lennon’s family apartment was, just a few hours earlier.

John Lennon Kind in His Final Hours

Chapman later said of the interaction, “He was very kind to me. Ironically, very kind and was very patient with me. The limousine was waiting… and he took his time with me and he got the pen going and he signed my album. He asked me if I needed anything else. I said, ‘No. No sir.’ And he walked away. Very cordial and decent man.”

Later that day, Chapman fired five bullets from a .38 revolver, hitting Lennon in the back with 4 of them. Chapman stayed at the scene. Ironically, Chapman was reading a copy of Catcher in the Rye when he was arrested. Although John Lennon was rushed to the hospital, he was pronounced dead on arrival. In lieu of a funeral, Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono asked that 10 minutes of silence be held around the world on December 14th.

News That Shook the Nation

The nation first learned the news during an NFL football game. There were only seconds remaining in the tied Monday night game, The Miami Dolphins vs. The New England Patriots. With only three seconds left, John Smith, kicker for the Patriots, was warming up for a field goal attempt that would have taken the game.

Meanwhile, commentator Howard Cosell shared the world-changing news of John Lennon’s death. Cosell told viewers, “An unspeakable tragedy confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City — the most famous, perhaps, of all of The Beatles — shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead on arrival. Hard to go back to the game after that newsflash, which, in duty bound, we have to take.”

McCartney Wrote a Love Song For Lennon

Paul McCartney wrote a love song to John Lennon following his death. The song was titled “Here Today,” which McCartney says was originally written as a poem. In an episode of a BBC Podcast, “Paul McCartney: Inside the Songs,” McCartney shares his thoughts behind the song.

“‘Here Today,’ a love song to John, written very shortly after he died. I was remembering things about our relationship and about the million things we’d done together,” McCartney recalls. “There’s one line in the lyric I don’t really mean. ‘Well knowing you, you’d probably laugh and say that we were worlds apart.’ I’m playing to the more cynical side of John, but I don’t think it’s true that we were so distant. ‘But you were always there with a smile,’ that was very John.”

McCartney goes on to ponder why he was never truly able to say “I love you” to John Lennon while he was alive. “..It was very emotional writing this song [Here Today]. I was just sitting there in this little bare room thinking of John and realizing I’d lost him, and it was a powerful loss, so to have a conversation with him in a song was some form of solace.”