Dec. 8, 1980 is a day that will live in infamy. I was not born yet, but every time I listen to an old Beatles album or a still fresh “Double Fantasy,” I feel slighted to have missed the chance to see a legend. It is the day John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman outside of his Manhattan apartment complex.
Twenty-five years ago, Lennon was posed to take on his next life – his solo career. The night of his death, Lennon was recording “Double Fantasy,” which had just been released and was being hailed as a breakout solo effort. It had it all. It was fresh, at times adventurous and constrained at others. It was pure Lennon, and sadly, it was his last work.
Some may not have cared for him personally, or for his politics, but no fan or musician can deny the impact Lennon had on music since that fateful day four Liverpool lads rocked the Ed Sullivan Show. He was part of the perfect mix of what would become a virtually perfect band. He was the risk taker of the group, complementing Paul’s calmness, Ringo’s silliness and George’s quietness. He and Paul became the most respected and influential song writers of their times. From stars like Madonna to new bands such as Fall Out Boy, modern musicians are unable to deny Lennon’s influence.
But in the end, Lennon was his own man. He took no prisoners and relinquished to nobody. He was revolutionary, running away from Beatlemania in search of the perfect sound. He was argumentative, calling out Bob Dylan on the song “Serve Yourself,” which he disliked. He was brash, telling fans the dream was dead upon the breakup of the Beatles. Above all he was talented, the likes of which we will most likely never see again.
What hurts the most for many is the fact that we don’t exactly know all that we lost that day. Did we lose a chance to see the Beatles one last time? We know we missed Lennon’s take on situations. How would he have seen or influenced Reganomics, the first Gulf War or the atrocities in Sudan? Would Lennon have been a globe trotter fighting for justice and peace?
What we do know is that whatever Lennon’s stance would have been, it would have been influential and would have been listened to by millions across the world.
It’s the little things we all miss, his words, his insight and his presence. I talked to my mom, a Beatle fanatic, about the night she learned of Lennon’s death. To her, like many others of her generation, it was a night similar to the assassination of John F. Kennedy that they will never forget. While Lennon’s potential life is filled with “what ifs,” his legacy is imprinted in music history. Lennon did not leave us too young – just too soon.
Allard can be reached at email@example.com.