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John’s death: where were you, how did you react?
19 August 2014
3.47am
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Matt Busby
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@vonbontee said:  Actually, @Matt Busby, the Iran-Contra thing happened during MY first year of lolcollege, and I we all felt we should become aware of USA politics at the time (so much more interesting than boring-old Canadian affairs), so I can kinda put myself in your place as far as that goes. I remember when I first heard "Steppin' Out", too (I didn't think it was as good as the recent "Nobody Told Me", was my main reaction. Oh, and I remember being mildly impressed that in this year of 1984, that somebody could get away with using the phrase "screw it" on a pop single. It would've been a much-less-accepted phrase in 1980.)

I was thinking of the 90 hostages taken at the American embassy on 4.11.79 and the 52 that were held until early '81.  It wasn't the Contra affair, it was when we let the Shah enter the USA for medical treatment and Khomeini wanted him back in exchange for them.  Carter ordered a botched rescue attempt.  All of us on my intramural football team that fall wore #52 in their honor.

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19 August 2014
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StrawberryWalrus said

On the other side, if this is what happens when all great people die, then it's the same even without videos. Remember the Pope John Paul II.? I remember that too, it's a scary atmosphere. Just watching the television, cameras on his little window in hospital or wherever - and then the light turned off. That was absolutely it.

Off topic, but since you mention it, it was pretty bizarre when John Paul I was elected...and died 33 days later.  It was the year of 3 popes, first one since the early 1600s.  I was a sophomore in high school that year, 1978.

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20 August 2014
6.09am
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trcanberra said

I also thought - and I apologise to my US and other friends who love their warm guns - but I clearly remember thinking about 'Americans and their bloody guns'.  There is a fascination with them in some countries that many of us in other countries just can't fathom - and John's death just seemed to symbolise that for me.

Please remember that there are millions of us here in America who don't get that strange fascination with guns either. The fact that John was killed by a legally purchased handgun filled with hollow point bullets that any crazy idiot could easily buy makes me sick. There's a strange paranoia that's at the root of this pro-gun thing... But I digress.

I've always said that as awful as December 8, 1980 was, December 9th was much worse... just a sad, horrible day.

17 January 2015
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ewe2
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Yeah it was the end of my 2nd last year of high school. I got home before anyone else and decided to put a spare cassette in the deck and tape some stuff from the radio (ah the good old days). Of course I get Beatles songs and songs from Double Fantasy and I'm a bit curious and then the announcer breaks in with the news and they start a feed from New York. They made a tag of someone saying in a telephone voice "John Lennon , ex-Beatle, is dead" and repeated that after every damn song. It's still echoing in my mind. I was too stunned to react. It took me days to even get my head around it. I have the tape somewhere, it still works but I never listen to it. In my mind it's mixed up with another tape I'd made from the radio, an extended promo Peter Gabriel made for Melt at the time, so whenever I think of that day, its that horrible tag and the beautiful instrumental Start. I still have trouble listening to Double Fantasy , and I can't stand Walking On Thin Ice.

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18 January 2015
11.38pm
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I was long from being thought off at that point. He died December 8, 1980 and I was born on July 9, 1996.

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21 January 2015
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Watching MNF, heard Cosell announce it live after he had confirmation....>>>>>>Sick Feeling.

21 January 2015
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Zig said
This came up in different thread a while back. It was a thread that did not address this specific topic to begin with, so I'm glad @Ahhh Girl found this one in which to place the post from @Oudis .

Anyway, Howard Cosell was the one that told me. I had just come home late from my after school part-time job and decided to unwind by watching the rest of Monday Night Football. Not long after turning on the TV...

I did not take it well. At the school bus stop the next morning, I saw my best friend who also loved the Beatles - especially John. When I saw his eyes were red, it really hit me. This really happened. Without a word we hugged each other and bawled our eyes out. The rest of the day at school was surreal. Teachers and students alike walking the hallways stunned. Moments like the one I mentioned at the bus stop breaking out everywhere. It was a really BFDay.

Watching that video is bizarre in regards to my reaction as it still feels like a shock and gutting and a part of me doesnt want it to be real despite knowing that it happened over 34 years ago.

You'd think it would get easier as time moves on yet it seems to get harder.

27201-John-Lennon-Quote.jpgImage Enlarger

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21 January 2015
8.46pm
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Standing on divisions (parade) early morning at HMS Raleigh during the 2nd week of my Naval training.

When the announcement came there was a despondent groan all around the parade ground. Very eerie. Will never forget it.

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22 January 2015
5.06pm
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How was it announced? I'm picturing a load of officers lining up and someone in charge bellowing "ATTEeeeeeenTION! JOHN LENNON, FORMERLY OF THE BEATLES, HAS BEEN SHOT AND KILLED. AT EASE!"

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22 January 2015
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Joe said
How was it announced? I'm picturing a load of officers lining up and someone in charge bellowing "ATTEeeeeeenTION! JOHN LENNON, FORMERLY OF THE BEATLES, HAS BEEN SHOT AND KILLED. AT EASE!"

LOL That would have been cool.

Actually it was The Padre who announced it during his spiel for our spiritual well-being.

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2 December 2015
7.37pm
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I remember the dark day well... ahdn_george_01

the dark day when I learned of it, that is, not when it happened. I wasn't there when it happened. a-hard-days-night-george-3 

I was a happy little lass of nine or so, peacefully listening to Yellow Submarine Songtrack and paging through a book for the Beatles mention that I knew it contained. It was about the reunion/Anthology project, and it went along the lines of 'How were the four Beatles able to release new songs in 1995 and 1996? John Lennon was killed in 1980...' 

I didn't see anything more after that. I was absolutely stunned. All of a sudden I couldn't bear to listen to George droning on about the clothes he wore, or how he bore or if his hair was brown (it didn't really matter anyway, as it was Only A Northern Song ). I shut the music down and moped about for the rest of the evening in a sort of shell-shocked daze. a-hard-days-night-john-7

I think I recovered by the next morning, though, and I remember asking Silly Dad, 'Have any of the other Beatles died?' I felt I had to know the worst, and get it over with. He answered yes, George Harrison had died in the early 2000s of cancer. I thought, 'oh, that's all right then', because I figured it was a fairly normal cause of death--not as horrifying as murder--and that if it was the early 2000s then he'd have been reasonably old by then (unlike John, who was but forty) and old people die, that's just the way it goes. 

I had a very vague sense of timelines in those days... ahdn_paul_01 

It wasn't till rather recently I realised just how awful George's death was, though not as horrifying as John's of course. And when I figured out he was only fifty-eight, I thought, that's not that old--not old enough! paul-mccartney 

When someone on here had mentioned When I'm Sixty-Four made them want to cry because two of the Beatles never reached that venerable age, it was a bit of a 'piph'ny moment for me. And, of course, the realisation made me want to cry. 

 

Wow, that was a long and winding post... a-hard-days-night-paul-7

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3 December 2015
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I just turned two years old 6 weeks before John was killed, so I have no recollection of it at all. Oddly enough, there's still a sense of loss...

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3 December 2015
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@Beatlebug, 58 isn't really that much older than 40.  And George's death was hastened on by a violent stabbing attack with a knife.

My wife is 14 years younger than me, and at the age of 45, 14 years doesn't seem very long.

"This Beatles talk bores me to death.” —John Lennon 

3 December 2015
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Expert Textpert said
SG, 58 isn't really that much older than 40.  And George's death was hastened on by a violent stabbing attack with a knife.

My wife is 14 years younger than me, and at the age of 45, 14 years doesn't seem very long.

I realise that now. But I didn't when I was nine. I only had the vaguest idea of the Beatles' ages. a-hard-days-night-paul-10 

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3 December 2015
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Our views about age can be very different at different stages of our life. I know that many teenagers think of people in their 30's as being old sometimes...you never know what a person thinks.

Anyway...we should

stay-on-topic

"This Beatles talk bores me to death.” —John Lennon 

3 December 2015
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I remember that day very well. The day that nothing was learned and nothing was forgotten, and nothing happened. I would know, I wasn't born yeta-hard-days-night-paul-11

But for my family that was alive when John died, I'm honestly not too sure. I feel like it must've been mentioned, but I'm not too sure of their reactions (they were like in their early teens, so I wouldn't know). Surely their must be a sense of loss, but not as much as some lads on here, mainly because they weren't into The Beatles or their solo careers, so......

In shorter terms: I wasn't born yet, and I don't know how my parents reacted

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8 December 2015
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Silly Girl said
I remember the dark day well... ahdn_george_01
 

Thanks for sharing your story @Beatlebug . I can't really tell my story of that day without a lot of personal background (which I'll leave for another day). I've appreciated reading everyone's posts today and want to contribute as well. By some unusual circumstances I ended up serving my draft resistance years on the island of Maui beginning in late 1971. I was kind of separated from/disillusioned by/missing tremendously John at that time. I remember thinking the song Isolation was aimed directly at Beatle fans like me (I don't expect you to understand,after you've caused so much pain/But after all your not to blame, you're just human and a victim of the insane). So anyway I'm newly 18, it's December 1971 and I'm sitting in an outdoor juice bar in Lahaina listening to Don Mclean singing Miss American Pie. I was thinking about my family and friends, my first time away from home, my decision to be there, and being alone for Christmas. Suddenly what do I hear but John's voice "So this is Christmas, what have you done?...War is over if you want it!". It meant so much to me...John you will always live in my heart. 

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8 December 2015
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I sort of had a delayed reaction to the John Lennon death.

I think I went to bed early on 12/8, because I did not know about it until the following morning when my mom told me about it at breakfast.  I just went to work focusing on my duties and did not think about it much. 

It wasn't until I saw all the news stories on TV and the papers plus all the Beatle music being played on the radio that it hit me.  I believe it was while playing The White Album about a week later that I finally cried.  It was not just the death of John itself.  It was also a symbol of the end of my childhood and moving on to adult responsibilities.

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30 March 2017
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Closely related...a story from someone who was in the recording studio John left the night he was killed.

Willie Nile shares new details on the night John Lennon was killed

Beatles alum John Lennon , who taught us all to “Imagine ,” had just returned home with his wife Yoko Ono when he was assassinated outside the Dakota Building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Now, WTOP is learning exclusive insights on that fateful night from singer/songwriter Willie Nile, who performs at Hamilton Live on April 8 and was at the recording studio with Lennon that night.

“On Dec. 5, 1980, I took my band in to make my second album for Arista Records,” Nile told WTOP. “I was in Studio A and John was in the mix room upstairs with Yoko yoko-ono_01 working on a Yoko project. My co-producer, Thom Panunzio, knew John [and] said, ‘Do you wanna meet John?’ I said, ‘Yeah, absolutely, paul-mccartney-thumb_gif but let’s wait a couple days.’ … This was Friday night, so I figured Tuesday we’ll see him.”

During the interim, Lennon’s team actually called downstairs to ask Nile a favor.

“Sunday night, the 7th of December, we’re in the studio recording and the phone rings at midnight,” Nile said. “It’s one of John’s engineers saying, ‘John is out of guitar strings. Do you have any guitar strings he could use?’ We just looked: ‘John Lennon needs guitar strings?!?’ beatlemaniacs_02_gif So we go diving into our bags and pull out guitar strings. mal-evansneil-aspinall I was gonna put a note with the strings: ‘To John, thanks for the music. Love ya,’ apple01heart but I decided that’s too corny. I’m gonna meet him in a few days. I’ll tell him when I see him.”

As fate would have it, that meeting never happened. But Lennon did, in fact, play on Nile’s strings.

“The next day, Monday, Dec. 8, 1980, we came in about 4:30 [a.m.],” Nile said. “I’ve got the call sheet, he was in at 7 [p.m.] and we were in at 4:30 [a.m.]. The engineer said John played on those strings from about midnight to 4:30 in the morning on a song called ‘Walking on Thin Ice.’ It’s a great track, a Yoko song, (@Expert Textpert) and the guitar playing is so visceral, so raw and rockin’. It’s the last thing he ever recorded.”

Nile will never forget how the rest of that fateful day unfolded.

“About 10:30 that night, we’re in the studio recording Monday night, Dec. 8, and the phone rings,” Nile said. “Thom Panunzio, our co-producer, had a buddy in New Jersey, a collector, bugging him all week, ‘Can you get me John’s autograph?’ And we had done a favor the night before, so Thom called the engineers and said, ‘The guy who gave John the strings would love an autograph.’ … So the phone call was saying, ‘John’s coming down now,’ and Thom said, ‘I’ll be right back’ and he left the room.”

Moments later, the tragic news arrived.

“We’re listening back to a take we’d just done without Thom, and Thom comes in and says, ‘Somebody just shot John!’ I said, ‘John who?’ It didn’t make sense. He said, ‘John Lennon .’ I go, ‘What?’ Then you figure, ‘shot,’ what does that mean? Maybe in the hand, maybe in the foot? Sadly, that wasn’t the case.” ahdn_george_05

Nile says the aftermath was chaos.

“The phone started ringing off the hook,” Nile said. “David Geffen called, the secretary answered, and he said, ‘John’s there right? Yoko’s friend just said he’s on the way to the hospital and had been shot! But he’s there recording right?!?’ And she said, ‘Well, no, he left about 15 minutes ago.’ It was so, so, so terrible. We were all crying. So we watched TV like everybody else. One of my heroes, John Lennon .”

The next day, Nile learned more details on the tragedy, which he claims are exclusive to WTOP.

“Nobody knows this,” Nile insisted. “The record plant hired a bodyguard to guard him whenever he was in studio. His name was Bobby, African-American, great guy, big guy, 6-[foot]-6, 300 pounds. … I was talking to Bobby, ‘What happened?’ He told us with tears in his eyes, ‘When we got in the elevator, John was in the greatest mood,’ because ‘Double Fantasy ’ was No. 1. Bobby said, ‘John was so happy because Yoko was finally getting respect from the press.’ That meant the world to him.”

While John and Yoko were flying on this personal high, the wheels of fate started tragically turning.

“John said to Bobby, ‘Bobby, let’s go to dinner and celebrate,'” Nile said. “Bobby said, ‘I’m sick to my stomach, I don’t feel good.’ John put his arm around him, ‘Don’t worry. You go home, feel better, we’ll do it another night.’ So instead of Bobby getting in the car with him and going to the restaurant then home, he would’ve been with him and been watching out. Had he gone with him, things maybe could have changed and he felt really bad about it. I said, ‘Bobby what can you do? You can’t see the future.'”

Nile himself carries similar “what if” regrets.

“I’d give anything to go back in time,” Nile said. “To know that, go upstairs and say, ‘Hey, [don’t go]’.'”

{snip}

From an earlier Willie Nile interview (2011)

“Did you know that today would have been John Lennon ’s 70th Birthday ?” He asked. “Did you know I was in the studio next to him the night he got shot? We had passed each other a few times and said ‘hello’ and through a mutual friend John had agreed to meet for dinner later that week. I was nearly finished recording my second album, Golden Down and he was along the corridor putting the final touches to Walking on Thin Ice when his engineer asked if we had any spare guitar strings as John’s needed replacing. I had some in my bag so sent them along.

I was sitting at the piano that John had played on Instant Karma ready to do one last take on a song when David Geffen rang at 11.30 to say that John Lennon had been shot.

I don’t really know why; but the song I was listening to was I can’t get you off my mind which seemed somehow appropriate and I had tears running down my cheeks when I finally finished the piano part.

From 2012

In December 1980, Nile and John Lennon were recording in adjacent studios. Lennon ran out of guitar strings, so Nile had someone take his extras to his famous neighbor.

“I was going to put a note to John – ‘Thanks for all the music. I love you. Willie,’” recalled Nile. “Then I thought, ah, too corny. I’ll tell him when I see him in person” in a couple of days.

“The last thing he played was my guitar strings,” says Nile.

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30 March 2017
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Here's Nile's version of I Can't Get You Off My Mind

https://www.youtube.com/watch?.....IrkvkICAUY

I guess that Tuesday many people talked and talked but felt so alone.

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