30 Years Later, New York Remembers John Lennon

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

On December 8, 1980 at 10:50 p.m., John Lennon was murdered outside his apartment building by deranged fan Mark Chapman. Lennon was returning home from his recording studio. Thirty years later, New Yorkers are still commemorating the Beatle that made our city his home. Here are some ways to remember Lennon around town on Wednesday.

"Lennon and Legacy " at The Greene Space  WNYC is throwing a special Lennon event Wednesday night in the Greene Space, which WNYC Host of Soundcheck and New Sounds John Schaefer will emcee. "Lennon and Legacy" will feature conversations with LennonNYC director Michael Epstein and Lennon autobiographer Keith Elliot Greenberg, who recently published an hour-by-hour account of the last day in Lennon's life. Meshell Ndegeocello will also perform a tribute. Plus, actors will read reflections on Lennon from everyday New Yorkers, and live video from the memorial celebrations at Central Park's Strawberry Field will be beamed into the performance space. Get there at 8 P.M. at 44 Charlton Street in Soho, Manhattan. Tickets cost $30.

Memorial Celebrations at Central Park's Strawberry Fields Fans gather every year at Strawberry Fields, the John Lennon memorial in Central Park, but the crowds are bound to be bigger than usual this year despite the bitter cold since it's thirty years after Lennon's death. People arrive as early as 7 A.M., and a sing-a-long starts around noon. Two moments of silence are observed—one at 10:50 P.M., the time when Lennon was shot, and another at 11:15pm, the time of his death. Get there any time during the day—it's all day—at the 71st Street entrance of Central Park on the Upper West Side. No cost. 

"John Lennon Tribute" at the Glasslands Gallery Brooklyn's Glasslands is hosting a Lennon tribute Wednesday night. Over ten Brooklyn indie bands, including Amazing Baby and Here We Go Magic, will perform songs and Lennon covers. Proceeds from the show go to Arts Education International, a non-profit that brings arts education to orphans in West Africa. Get there at 8 P.M. at 289 Kent Ave in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Tickets cost $15.

"This Boy… John Lennon in Liverpool" at The Paley Center for Media  The Paley center is exhibiting a series of photographs from John Lennon's youth in the rough-and-tumble English town of Liverpool. Photos include shots of Lennon playing with his first band, the Quarrymen, which was a skiffle band later joined by Paul. (Check out band pics in the slideshow below) Get there any time between 12:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M., between now and December 31 at 25 W. 52nd St., #6 in Midtown Manhattan. Tickets are $10 for exhibit and general admission.

"Starting Over: The Making of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy" at the Borders Penn Plaza This October, Ken Sharp published a new book documenting the making of Lennon's last album, Double Fantasy, which was released just weeks before his death in 1980. The book draws on interviews with musicians who played on the record, as well as members of the media who interviewed John Lennon in the months before the murder. Borders hosts a Q&A and book singing with Sharp as well as one of the photographers for the book, Roger Farrington. Get there at 6 P.M. at 2 Penn Plaza (at W. 33rd Street) in Midtown, Manhattan. No cost.

BBC America Remembers John Lennon BBC America pays tribute to Lennon with a marathon of Beatles and Lennon-themed films, including Imagine: John Lennon, featuring Lennon's own footage and narration, and Backbeat, a fictional film depicting the Beatles' early days in Hamburg, Germany. Tune into BBC America beginning at 9 A.M.

What did John Lennon mean to you? Let us know by leaving a comment below, or let us know other Lennon memorial events happening in NYC on Wednesday.

Courtesy of the Paley Center For Media
Lennon as a youth in first band, The Quarrymen, performing on July 6, 1957
Courtesy of the Paley Center For Media
Young Lennon performing with the Quarrymen on October 18, 1957 at the New Clubmoor Hall in Norris Green, Liverpool. This was the first night that a new member, Paul McCartney, performed with them.


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Comments [15]

Rosebuds from Santa Monica

20 years after Lennon's death I did this piece on public radio about coming to NYC for the memorial in Central Park with Yoko.....

Dec. 09 2012 12:46 AM
Anna B from WI

It still freaks me out that the picture up there from the Wooten Village Fete was six months before I was born. My parents let us stay up to see The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in Feb 64. I raised my kids listening to Beatles and all-else 60s & 70s. The Beatles ARE classic rock, and will NEVER be equalled...only slightly imitated.
But George was and always will be my favorite Beatle!

Dec. 09 2010 07:44 PM
Nancy from nyc

I was 12 and upon hearing the news thought that NYC must have been such a dangerous place with lunatics roaming the streets and then second thought was that this was the day the music died.

Dec. 08 2010 08:24 PM
Nicole from NYC

I was 15 years old when John died and went with friends to the gathering in central park a few days after his death. It was a very sad, humbling and memorable event. His message was and is timeless.

Dec. 08 2010 06:04 PM
MAGGIE TERC from Miramar, Florida

I'm sorry Gary from Toronto that you feel the way you do about the tribute to John Lennon. I think he would be surprised that he could never "Imagine" how much love he planted in the hearts of many. I was a teenager at the time of the famous Beatles. It is a time I would happily live all over again. I attended the original Cathedral High School located at 560 Lexington Avenue in NYC and remember that our music Professor Mr. DiCarlo would only allow us to listen to Beatle music because it was true music.

Dec. 08 2010 03:44 PM
Andy from Hastings from Hastings-on-Hudson

I was born 20 years to the day after John Lennon. Though young (that made me 9 at the time the Beatles broke up), I had a complete collection by that time and, starting at the age of 4, had their albums in roughly sequence order, so I was close to just about as young as you could be to experience the Beatles in real time. I am convinced that getting all that strange, changing music in my impressionable and tender head and heart at such an early age permanently affected my psychology, and to this day I have never really, fully advanced onto any other music that gives me the same level of satisfaction.

Lennon was my favorite and though I was disenchanted with Paul's direction in the 70s, I was not an avid follower then of John's solo music except Plastic Ono Band. That it, until Double Fantasy. It was the first Lennon album I bought right when it came out. It felt like he was back. It had that Beatlesesque quality of sounding wierd at first until all of a sudden it clicked in. The day he died I was reading his Playboy interview, and I am convinced I was acutally listening to Double Fantasy in my college bedroom the moment he was shot. Because that night right after I turned off the record, I heard the news on the radio. The record had just been "clicking in."

Lennon's death has affected me by far more than any other person I have not known personally. I am very skeptical and even cynical of celebrity culture, so I feel a little sheepish about my feelings about John. But there you have it.

Dec. 08 2010 03:06 PM
David Simon from Dobbs Ferry

Most of us grow up with imaginary friends who know us as intimately as we think we knew them. What's remarkable is how well I feel that I knew John, even though I never met him. So I guess maybe he was my Imagine Friend. But think of this: how many people in the world can create the feeling amongst everyday people that we knew him well and he knew us? That's the power of love, of John and of all the other Beatles. Death and loss was a running theme in the lives of the Beatles. Paul and John were bonded by the loss of their mothers at tender young ages. They both knew abandonment and profound sadness and lonliness. From his childhood on, John's life was backwards: he skipped right passed the normal maturation process and leapt into the fire of profound celebrity. And from that lofty peak, he began the search of his soul, with his mother guide, Yoko. Finally he had mother. He even called her mother. John's life from Beatles to death was a slow and steady shedding process---hence that notorious naked album photo and all the demystifying interviews and songs. When he was done with LA and went back to Yoko and became a househusband while the world typically demanded Beatles servitude, he flipped everyone off in the name of Starting Over. How deeply and profoundly ironic that when he finally became JOHN, not the rock legend, but JOHN the contented man---he was slain. There is an ugly beauty to all this. From the death of mom to the death of his own life....a perfect bookend....that no one will ever want. One more comment: will the press and filmmakers STOP making films about his killer? The penalty for assassination in this country should NOT be instant three name celebrity. It should be the COMPLETE loss of their identity They should have not three names but none and let them rot in the hell of being torturously unknown for the rest of their puny worthless existence. Thank God for John...thank you John...the love we take is indeed equal to the love we make.

Dec. 08 2010 02:33 PM

While I was as shocked as anyone and the thought that John would no longer create and grace our streets and parks left me feeling empty and sad, I never liked what I saw as his moralizing and pontificating.
The whole cult of John is repellant to me.

Dec. 08 2010 02:33 PM
Ben from New York

RIP John Lennon.

City's Best has some great pics from Strawberry Fields taken today --

Dec. 08 2010 02:32 PM
Gary from Toronto

I can't take this anymore. I need to change to another NPR station. Maybe I can catch the grain report in Idaho. I think John Lennon would be embarrassed by this. PLease stop.

Dec. 08 2010 02:25 PM
Gianluca from New York

Musically - Top dog for all the usual reasons - like changing the course of music, etc. As a symbol of peace though, completely over-rated. He talked about peace but did he actually do anything for it? Well he did sing “give peace a chance” and sit in bed for a week. He also told us to “imagine no possessions” while playing a white Steinway in his mansion in the country with a Rolls Royce in the garage. But did he ever donate any time or money to peaceful causes? He never even played at Concert for Bangladesh!

Dec. 08 2010 12:09 PM
Jennifer Wada from Brooklyn, NY

I was a small child when the Beatles phenomenon exploded, and so their music dominated my musical landscape from my earliest memories. "John" always meant John Lennon, my favorite Beatle from the beginning, and when he and Yoko made New York their home, I was so very proud. I was sure that someday I would see them just walking down the street.

On December 8, 1980, I got home late in the evening, and my mother, shocked and saddened, gave me the news that John had been killed. I sank to my knees in disbelief. For so many of us, it was as though we had lost not just an idol, but a very close loved one.

Rest in peace, John - you will live forever.

Dec. 08 2010 10:45 AM

It was cold, very very cold. I was watching Monday Night Football with Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell. It was late when Cosell announced the shooting and death of John Lennon. I was stunned. I had become used to seeing John and Sean playing in the rustic part of the park now called Strawberry Fields near his Dakota home.

In shock, I put on a lot of clothes and my warmest coat and left my east 71st Street apartment and walked across the park to the Dakota to join the vigil already begun by others. A boom box was playing his music and a large crowd was gathering across from the Dakota. Flowers began to amass at the spot he was shot. Every evening of Dec 8, I have made my way to the Dakota to pay my respects to John and to deposit a white rose on the appropriate place for those pilgrims.

I have gone alone, I have gone with friends. I always bring a single white rose with names of people from around the world who know I do this every Dec 8.

Imagine Peace

Dec. 08 2010 09:27 AM
Big Mike from KIllingworth, CT USA

He, along with his bandmates, revolutionized music—and turned entertainment itself into a more powerful social and cultural force. His tunes sound just as fresh today as they did when they were new. We are grateful to have known such a genius.

Dec. 08 2010 09:09 AM

He gives me comfort in his music. Looking back at his life he accomplished so much, and never took it for granted. He wasn't perfect but took pride in that, he wanted people to know the truth. And that's what we got. I was born 15 years after his death, and even after that huge gap in time he is still alive, within his fans, music, and messages. He made history and will continue to be history, god bless you John. God bless you. <3

Dec. 08 2010 01:18 AM

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