It’s almost the 42nd anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon. The former member of The Beatles was gunned down outside his apartment complex, The Dakota, in New York City, on December 8, 1980. He was killed by a crazed fan, Mark Chapman. Before his death, he talked to his wife, Yoko Ono, about what he wanted to do that night.
Lennon and Ono had spent the day together. Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz came to her apartment that day to shoot them for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. After that, Lennon gave what would be his last interview for RKO Radio. Soon after, the pair went to mix Ono’s song Walking on Thin Ice, which featured Lennon on lead guitar, at the Record Plant.
Lennon and Ono returned to The Dakota around 10:50 p.m. that night, where the Imagine singer was attacked and killed.
In 2007, Ono opened up about Lennon’s last words to her. She recalled the traumatic night during her appearance on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs. Ono recalled asking Lennon, “Shall we have dinner before we go home?”
Lennon responded with a thoughtful comment about his son, Sean Ono Lennon.
Sean recalled, “I didn’t find out until a few days later. I remember it very clearly, someone saying my mom wanted to talk to me. I had to go to the bedroom and my mom was in bed.”
She recalled that Ono had been “in bed for days,” obviously overcome with grief from witnessing her loved one’s death firsthand.
“I remember taking a look at a newspaper headline,” Sean continued. “I could barely read; I didn’t really know what it meant.”
Eventually, Ono told him, “Your dad is dead.” He continued: “She said it really straight, like, ‘He’s been murdered.’ I remember for some reason really wanting to be mature about it. I said, ‘Don’t worry mom, you’re still young. You’ll find someone.’ Which It was a strong thing to say, when I think about it. But that’s what I said. She’ll check it out. And she said, ‘Well, I’m glad you feel that way.’ Then I ran to my room, because I didn’t want him to see me cry. I didn’t want to admit it was hard.”
Lennon did not have a funeral. Instead, Ono held a private cremation with immediate family and friends. He scattered his ashes in Central Park, New York, within sight of the apartment they shared together. Later, the Strawberry Fields memorial was placed there.
On December 14, 1980, Ono held a vigil for Lennon in Central Park. He then observed ten minutes of silence for the singer.
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