This week marks the 35th year since John Lennon’s murder, the day the true voice of a generation was silenced forever. If you’re of a certain age, the day was one of the worst in your life. It was for me. Photos like this bring all the memories back.
I was a newspaper reporter for The Daily News and wound up speeding to the scene within an hour of shooting. I stayed there all night, calling my notes in to the city desk about the hundreds of people descending onto W. 72nd Street, home to the Dakota apartment building and John’s home with Yoko.
Of course, many people were crying but they were also singing. Guitars were produced and there was a never-ending chorus of “Give Peace A Chance” and “All You Need is Love.”
Everything about John’s death has been said many times over so let me tell you a story about how John & Yoko wound up living in the Dakota to begin with. The story was told to me by Peter Brown, the onetime Beatles’ right hand man (mentioned in “The Ballad of John & Yoko.) Brown still lives in the Langham, an apartment building one block north of the Dakota on Central Park West.
I was doing research for a book and was meeting with Brown at his apartment overlooking the park. It was a fall afternoon and the sun was coming through the golden leaves of Central Park. I remarked on how beautiful and peaceful it was and Brown said that John had said the same thing as he sat having lunch there back in the ’70s.
“John asked if there were any apartments available and there were none,” Brown said, “so he walked down to the next building (the Dakota) and asked there.”
Of course, there was an apartment available there. John and Yoko bought that one and then several others as they expanded their homestead. John came to love the block and the park and the surrounding neighborhood. Many merchants used to have his photo in their store windows before he was killed because he was a regular customer.
A few days after John’s murder, there was a memorial in Central Park. I covered that one as well. It was a bright, sunny day but, at one point, a snow squall came blowing in from out of nowhere. It was gone almost as soon as it began. I always thought that was John saying goodbye or hello one more time.
Here’s a photo from that memorial. Peace.