Tuesday, December 08, 2009

It Was 29 Years ago Today....

...that John Lennon was murdered in the street in front of his residence at the Dakota Apartments in New York City. I had just gotten off the air at KY 102 and was at home with my girlfriend. I had just taken the dog out to do his thing. Bree had made a lovely dinner for me and even at the late hour of 10pm, we usually spent that time together eating and chatting about the day. As I was bringing the dog back in, I looked ahead and saw her weeping uncontrollably. What was the matter? What had happened in the time I had taken to the dog out? Heck, it wasn't even ten minutes... She pointed at the television when Howard Cosell said those infamous words..."it has been confirmed John Lennon has been shot and was enroute to a New York City hospital..." Holy cow, NOT John Lennon, not THIS way, I consoled her and said it would be ok, we don't know the extent of the injuries. I immediately called the radio station, where Jon Hart answered the phone. He knew, he said and was monitoring all the news services and was looking for information. I knew, whatever happened, that Jon was the guy to have on the air, one of the very few people that was as big of a Beatles fan as I was. Then, it happened. Howard again..."this just in, John Lennon has died of his injuries as a result of a gun shot wound suffered earlier this evening." Howard was speechless after that and I was too. At that time, the radio station was playing a Led Zeppelin A-Z tribute because Robert Plant earlier in the week disbanded the band after John Bonham drank himself to death. That was stopped quickly and we went all Beatles all the time. NOT John Lennon, NOT after he had disappeared from public view and not NOW. John looked happy and healthy and ready to take on the world again. NO! IT CAN'T BE HIM!!! Not with him releasing one of the most important come back recordings ever. With Jon Hart handling the tunes very deftly, all Bree and I could do was hold each other close and cry. We made sweet love and then went to sleep, emotionally exhausted. The next night, on the air, I cried. I had never done that before and have done it only one time since. I didn't know what to say after everything had been said. There was no internet and not many people had cable, so this was basically one of the only outlets we had. I opened up the lines to anyone who had anything to say about anything. It turned out to be one of my most unforgettable shows, one where I did next to nothing but field phone calls. The people were heart broken; they turned to their local station and talked, talked some more and cried, cried some more and talked more. It was the most incredible out pouring of love and grief at the same time that I have ever been a part of. One of the callers was the local pastor at the All Souls Unitarian Church announcing that there would be a candlelight ceremony on Wednesday. Would I be interested in saying a few words and being a part of the ceremony? There was no hesitation. On Wednesday, Bree and I made our way through a completely filled church and I got up and talked about John and what he meant to an entire generation's culture. John and the rest of the Beatles not only affected music but also shaped a culture where this generation cut it's teeth. When the Beatles wore their hair long, so did we. When the Beatles said "All You Need Is Love", we believed it. I did a 30 minute eulogy without notes. Something was guiding what I said like never before and the fitting words fell off my tongue like they were placed there days before. It was so easy to talk about someone who you thought you knew as well as you did the members of your family. I remember thinking how cold it was that day and how I longed for a time that we could sing "Here Comes The Sun" after a long, cold lonely winter. That winter was particularly cold and lonely, even with the love of one of the most beautiful women to walk the planet. The world became a meaner place and I felt that I aged much more than my 24 years would attest. A part of me was gone, a bit of innocence lost. There would be no Beatles reunion. Not in this world anyway. 16 years after that, I spoke to Yoko in a hotel room and in probably one of my worst interviews, we talked about John's artwork. We played the song "Just Like Starting Over" and she stopped the interview. It was STILL too soon for her and the song still hit her hard. I heard "I'm Losing You" in the sauna last night and my mind was directed to 29 years ago in those palpable moments when all was well in the world. I was in love and life was good. It took Howard Cosell and a madman named Mark David Chapman to change it all forever. Bree has passed (killed in a car accident) and sometimes, I still go back there, the minutes before I heard the news today..oh boy.

..."we all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun..."

Bree and Me on Wednesday, December 10 1980

1 comment:

Brian Holland said...

Every time I hear that Cosell recording, it still gives me chills when he says "DEAD on arrival..." I was actually very close to turning the game off that night--it was a really boring MNF game (Miami beat New England 16-13 in OT)--and I dozed off a couple times just before Cosell broke the news in the 4th quarter. I was 16 and in the midst of a major Beatle binge at that time, learning and absorbing as much as I could about them as I could, and still hopeful of a Beatles reunion too. I remember just sitting and staring blankly out the window in disbelief during study hall at school the next day. Wanted to strangle the dumb hick kid who said the Beatles were no big deal anyway.

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