Newspaper Reports of John Lennon's Death
Chicago Tribune, Tuesday, December 9, 1980
EX-BEATLE LENNON SLAIN
NEW YORK--John Lennon, the driving force behind the legendary Beatles
rock group, was shot to death late Monday as he entered his luxury apartment
building on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
Lennon, 40, one of the most prolific songwriters of the century, was rushed
in a police car to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, where he died
shortly after arrival.
Police said Lennon was shot outside the Dakota, the century-old apartment
house where he and his wife, Yoko Ono, lived across the street from Central
New York Chief of Detectives James D. Sullivan identified the alleged
assailant as Mark David Chapman, 25, of 55 S. Kukui St., Hawaii.
Sullivan said Chapman arrived in New York City about a week ago and stayed
at several YMCAs before checking into the Sheraton Center Hotel in midtown
Manhattan. Chapman was seen at the Dakota on Saturday and Sunday, asking
about Lennon, Sullivan said. Chapman was there again Monday afternoon
when Lennon and Ono left their apartment about 5 p.m. to go to a recording
session, Sullivan said. Chapman stopped Lennon and got an autograph on
a record album, the chief said.
When Lennon and Ono returned shortly before 11 p.m. New York time, they
left their limousine at the curb and walked up the driveway toward the
courtyard. Chapman came up behind them and called out, "Mr. Lennon," Sullivan
As Lennon started to turn, Chapman went into a combat stance, and emptied
a Charter Arms .38 revolver, which contained five bullets, Sullivan said.
Lennon staggered up six steps into the vestibule and said, "I'm shot,"
before collapsing on the floor, Sullivan said.
Chapman was standing there when policemen arrived, Sullivan said. He had
dropped the gun, and an elevator man had recovered it, Sullivan said.
Sullivan said that Chapman had bought the gun in Hawaii and the detective
didn't know how he got it to New York. Chapman has given no motive, according
to Sullivan, who refused to say whether he had confessed.
Chapman was charged with homicide and is to be arraigned Tuesday morning.
[This story was compiled from reports filed by three Tribune reporters--Michael
Coakley, Carol Oppenheim, and Barbara Brotman--who rushed to the scene
of the slaying of former Beatle John Lennon, to the hospital, and to New
York police headquarters immediately after the shooting. It was written
by Sallie Gaines.]
Detroit Free Press, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 1980
BEATLE JOHN LENNON SHOT TO DEATH
SUSPECT NABBED ON N.Y. STREET
NEW YORK - Former Beatle John Lennon, who with the long-haired British
rock group was catapulted to stardom in the 1960s, was shot to death late
Monday outside his luxury apartment building on Manhattan's upper west
side, police said.
A police spokesman said a suspect was in custody, but he had no other
details of the shooting.
"This was no robbery," the spokesman said, adding that Lennon was probably
shot by a deranged person.
Lennon, 40, was shot three times, police said, and was taken to Roosevelt
Hospital, where he died in surgery. His wife, Yoko Ono, was with him.
"There's blood all over the place," a hospital worker said when Lennon
was taken into the hospital. "They're working on him like crazy."
Police said the shooting occurred at 11 p.m. outside the Dakota, a giant
stone co-operative apartment building across from Central Park. Lennon
had an office and a residence in the building.
Jack Douglas, Lennon's producer, said he and the Lennons had been at a
studio called the Record Plant in mid-town earlier in the evening and
Lennon left at 10:30 p.m. Lennon said he was going to get a bite to eat
and go home, Douglas said. A bystander, Sean Strub, said he was walking
south near 72nd Street when he heard four shots. He said he went around
the corner to Central Park West and saw Lennon being put into the back
of a police car.
"Some people...heard six shots and said John was hit twice," Strub said.
He said others on the street told him the assailant had been "crouching
in the archway of the Dakota...Lennon arrived in the company of his wife,
and the assailant fired." He said the suspect, a "pudgy kind of man" 35
to 40 years old with brown hair, was put into another police car.
Lennon, who turned 40 on Oct. 9, was responsible for writing many of the
songs that launched the Beatles in the early 1960s and changed the course
of rock music. In an interview earlier this year - his first major interview
in five years - Lennon said he had wanted to leave the Beatles as early
as 1966, but did not make the move until four years later because he "just
didn't have the guts."
After the Beatles broke up in 1970, Lennon continued writing songs and
recording. But in 1975 he dropped out for five years, saying he wanted
to be with his son, Sean, and his wife.
It was not until last summer that he returned to music, and his 14- song
album, "Double Fantasy," was released last month. The album, which includes
songs by Ono, is based on Lennon's experiences over the five years, during
which he kept house, cooked and cared for their son.
Lennon, who became one of the most famous musicians in the history of
rock 'n' roll while he was with the Beatles, made his last Beatle album,
"Abbey Road," in 1969. He was the most irreverent member of the band,
which also included bassist Paul McCartney, guitarist George Harrison
and drummer Ringo Starr.
Lennon was born Oct. 9, 1940, in England's northern industrial seaport
of Liverpool, the son of a porter father who deserted the family when
John was three.
When his father surfaced once Lennon reached stardom, Lennon slammed the
door in his face. He later recalled, "I don't feel as if I owe him anything.
He never helped me. I got there by myself."
Lennon attended secondary school in Liverpool, then went on to Liverpool
College of Art, where he married a classmate, Cynthia Powell.
They were later divorced, and in 1969 Lennon married Ono, a Japanese-American
artist, who was pregnant. Lennon later said, "We went to Paris on our
honeymoon, then interrupted our honeymoon to get married on the Rock of
The seed for the Beatles band dates back to 1955 when Lennon met McCartney
at a Liverpool, England church social. The two started performing as a
duo, called the Quarrymen, and were joined three years later by Harrison.
Starr did not come into the band until 1962 - a year before the Beatles
hit the top of the charts in Britain with "Please Please Me."
"Beatlemania" did not cross the ocean to the United States until 1964,
when "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was released and the late Ed Sullivan
invited the Beatles to appear on his weekly television show.
"Meet The Beatles" became the best selling record album in history to
The British invasion had begun, and in August 1964, a Beatles film, "Hard
Day's Night," opened to extraordinary critical and popular acclaim.
Albums to follow included "Rubber Soul," "Revolver," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely
Hearts Club Band," "The Beatles (white album)" and "Abbey Road."
The collaboration ended abruptly when the group disbanded in 1970 amid
talk of falling out between Lennon and McCartney in addition to recriminations
against the management of their recording company.
Some critics blamed Lennon's 1969 marriage to Ono for the breakup of the
Beatles after she was denied a "fifth Beatle" status. But Lennon denied
it. Lennon, who released a dozen solo albums after the Beatles breakup,
said he was most affected by early rock 'n' roll, blues music and Elvis
In the near-decade of their collaboration, the group sold more than 250
Detroit Free Press, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 1980
LENNON: A BRILLIANT MADMAN
by Joe Urschel
The Beatles were really the creative marriage of two men: Paul McCartney
and John Lennon.
McCartney was the softener, the musician, the pop-brain who understood
the musical marketplace. Lennon was McCartney's manic alter ego - the
cynical wit, the brillant madman.
After the break-up of the band 10 years ago, McCartney became just another
pop musician. Lennon became an eccentric recluse, married to an equally
enigmatic Japanese-American artist, Yoko Ono.
He was killed Monday just as he was re-emerging onto the music scene after
a five-year silence. He and Ono had just released a collaborative album,
The Beatles came out of the lower middle class in Liverpool, England,
during a period of social confrontation among England's youth. The times
produced warring cliques of Mods, foppish intellectual sorts, and Rockers,
leather-clad bikers. Lennon was once asked which group the Beatles belonged
to. His reply: "Neither, we're mockers."
It was his sarcasm and scorn that gave the Beatles their anti- establishment
tag. Ringo Starr was the bemused child, George Harrison the lonely introvert
and McCartney the shrewd conservative.
Lennon's songs, such as "I Am the Lawless," "A Day in the Life" and "Strawberry
Fields Forever," were wanderings through existential uninviting worlds.
They told of depression, angst and bizarre discovery. He played the inspired
crazy jester to the pop-sensibility of McCartney, whose songs were often
slick and frothy, such as "Yesterday" and "When I'm 64."
When the two worked together, however, legendary music was made.
Lennon led the band members through most of their experiments with the
bizarre and metaphysical. His fascination with Eastern religion promoted
the Beatles to take up study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and helped
spur the fascination with Transcendental Meditation in the mid-'70s.
Recently, however, Lennon had given up most of his attachments to organizations
and religions. Asked recently about Bob Dylan's conversion to Christianity,
Lennon replied, "I'm not pushing Buddhism because I'm no more a Buddhist
than a Christian. But there's one thing I admire about the religion. There's
not proselytizing." Lennon was always willing to poke fun at himself and
others. At one of the Beatles early concerts, he instructed those in the
"cheap seats" to clap, then added, "The rest of you can rattle your jewelry."