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Wednesday, December 8th marks the 30th anniversary of the day JOHN LENNON died. The former BEATLE was shot and killed by MARK DAVID CHAPMAN outside the Dakota apartment building in New York City, where Lennon and wife YOKO ONO lived. Lennon was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital and was pronounced dead on arrival. Chapman was taken into custody and ultimately sentenced to life in prison for the crime. Earlier this year, he was denied parole for the sixth time.
Most of America learned of Lennon's death during that evening's Monday Night Football game on ABC. Sportscaster HOWARD COSELL broke the news near the end of the fourth quarter. Afterwards, an outpouring of grief and condolences came from everywhere. Former New York City mayor ED KOCH said that "people gathered night after night outside the Dakota building" to pay tribute to Lennon. Producer JACK DOUGLAS, who worked with Lennon on Imagine, Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey, said he was "in absolute shock and then panic and fear...And then when they announced that he was passed, I, like millions of other people, just started crying."
When fellow Beatle PAUL MCCARTNEY was first asked to comment on Lennon's death, he infamously answered, "It's a drag." McCartney was criticized for years for the comment, which many said showed he was superficial and didn't really care about Lennon's passing. In 1985, McCartney explained during an interview in London that he was still in shock when he made the comment. Said McCartney, "I'm not very good at public grief. So someone thrust a microphone into my face the day it happened and said 'What's your comment?' ...all I could muster was 'it's a drag'...I couldn't say anything else but that. I just couldn't. Nor could GEORGE, nor could RINGO because he was too dear to us."
Ironically, a day before his death, Lennon talked about how much he loved New York City because no one really bothered him. He said, "I can head right out this door and go in a restaurant...or go to the movies. I mean, people come up and ask for autographs but they won't bug you."
Lennon would have celebrated his 70th birthday on October 9th. In partial celebration of that anniversary, a documentary called LennoNYC recently premiered on PBS, focusing on his life in New York City. In addition, a box set featuring all of Lennon's albums is currently in stores, and music from THE BEATLES is now available on iTunes, after years of deliberation.
A vigil in John Lennon's memory will be held in his hometown of Liverpool, England today at 8:00 p.m. local time. In addition, thousands are expected to gather at the Strawberry Fields memorial in New York's Central Park, across from the Dakota, to remember Lennon.