What were you doing the night that John Lennon was shot?
Like many of my generation, I was up one Monday night watching Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford, and Dan Meredith of ABC Monday Night Football calling a game between New England and Miami. The show had huge ratings back then. It was the biggest game of the week and something that all of us looked forward to.
I don't recall exactly when, but I fell asleep and missed the bulletin about John Lennon's shooting. It was read on the air by Howard Cosell, who knew Lennon personally. Here is the link if you want to see it.
I heard it the very next day when the radio went off at 6am! Lennon was killed by Mark D. Chapman, a troubled young man:
After committing the murder, Chapman waited calmly outside, reading a copy of The Catcher in the Rye.
Chapman was a troubled individual who was obsessed with Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of J. D. Salinger's novel about a disaffected youth, and with various celebrities. While working as a security guard in Hawaii, he decided that Lennon was a phony and, while listening to Beatles tapes, Chapman decided to plan his murder.
Chapman purchased a gun in Hawaii and then traveled to New York. Although he called his wife to tell her that he was in New York to shoot Lennon, she ignored his threats. Unable to buy bullets in New York due to strict laws, Chapman flew to Atlanta and purchased hollow-nosed rounds to bring back.
On the day of the murder, Chapman bought an extra copy of The Catcher in the Rye and joined fans waiting outside The Dakota, Lennon's apartment building. That evening, as Lennon walked by on his way into the building, Chapman shot him in the back and then fired two additional bullets into his shoulder as the singer wrenched around in pain.
Lennon's assassination shocked most of us who had grown up listening to the Beatles. Frankly, I was surprised that he'd be so unprotected and walk around so freely without a bodyguard. After all, he was one of the best-known people in the world. Chapman would have never been able to approach him if Lennon had simply had a bodyguard. Over the years, I've talked to people who ran into Lennon at Central Park or just walking around New York City.
Lennon had just returned to the music world after a five-year exile when he was shot by Chapman. His new album "Double Fantasy" and single "Just like Starting Over" were breaking into the music charts the night he was killed.
I was reminded of Lennon's shooting when I heard of the attempts on President Reagan (March 1981) and Pope John Paul II (May 1981) a few months later. Thankfully, Pres. Reagan and Pope John Paul II survived.
It just does not seem that all of this happened 34 years ago. However, watching that Howard Cossell link on YouTube, I was reminded of a time in our lives when there was no ESPN, internet, or cell phones.