October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980
It was December 8th, 1980. John and Yoko were just returning to their home in The Dakota.
It’s a posh apartment building that looms at 1 West 72nd Street, in Manhattan.
The happy couple just finished recording the song “Walking On Thin Ice,” for the follow up album to Double Fantasy. They neared the entrance, and John turned when he heard someone call, “Mr. Lennon!”
Mark David Chapman, 25, placed the album that he had gotten autographed earlier, onto a planter, then fired five shots from a .38, into John Lennon’s back.
John staggered into the building saying; “I’m shot!” Yoko called for help. Two police vehicles arrived in minutes, and one rushed John to Roosevelt Hospital. Mr. Lennon died in transit. Chapman made no attempt to flee. He was arrested standing next to the gun he dropped, reading a copy of, “Catcher in the Rye,” the handbook for psychopaths. Very bizarrely, Chapman was photographed getting an autograph from Lennon just a few hours earlier.
While Chapman waited in the police cruiser, Yoko Ono walked over and looked at him, said nothing, and walked away. Chapman later recalled this memory as “traumatic”.
The world went into shock. Within minutes, crowds gathered outside the building.
They brought flowers and candles, and sang, “Imagine,” “In My Life,” and “Give Peace a Chance.” At least two fans committed suicide, when they heard the news.
Thanks to Findadeath.com friend Bob Siler, here is the last photograph EVER (WARNING: dead pic) of John Lennon, in a body bag in the NYC Morgue. An attendant snapped the photo a few hours after Lennon had arrived. The next day he was cremated. The guy who took it got $5,000 from the National Enquirer. (Thanks to Todd A. Dale as well, for the text.)
A few days later, all over the world, fans held silent vigils in John’s memory. In New York’s Central Park, across from the Dakota, nearly 400,000 fans turned up to pay their respects.
John’s body was cremated on December 10th, and his ashes were given to his wife. He was 40 years old.
December 2004: Here is his death certificate, exclusively for Findadeath!
October 2000: update courtesy of Findadeath.com friend James Copeland:
Having perused your pages with morbid fascination, I thought this unpleasant addendum to the John Lennon story might appeal to you.
According to controversial biographer Albert Goldman, “Lennon had a horror of cremation, a practice that he inveighed against and once proposed to protest in a song. Despite his aversion, his widow arranged to have his body burned.” And from the Channel 4 documentary “The Real John Lennon”, it is clear that none of his family in England were consulted about the perfunctory disposal of his body.
John’s 5 year old son Sean wasn’t told the awful news until the morning of 10 December. Understandably distraught, he asked to see his father one last time, so Lennon’s assistant Fred Seaman rang security man Douglas MacDougal at Ferncliff Mortuary and asked him to hold off on the cremation. It was too late.
But it gets worse.
According to Seaman’s account in his book “The last days of John Lennon”, MacDougal told him that John’s face had been serene and calm until just before the body entered the oven, when suddenly it contorted into a “pained, macabre grin” apparently due to rigor mortis. MacDougal had also warned Yoko a couple of months before the murder that the Lennons were running crazy risks by making their daily routine public and not having proper bodyguards.
Maybe true, maybe not, but I believe there was something profoundly sinister about John’s reclusive final years with the Astrology obsessed Yoko Ono. George Harrison once said of visits to the Dakota, “I always felt there was something more that he wanted to say but didn’t feel able to. There was a look in his eyes.” Look at some pictures of Lennon in the studio not long before his death at www.vintagebb.com/lennon.html. He doesn’t look like a well man to me.
That’s about it. All of the above information (apart from the final paragraph, which is sheer conjecture) is freely available from the sources I mentioned.
Best wishes, James.
Thank you, James. What an interesting addition. I appreciate it.
A memorial to Lennon, a 2.5 acre area called Strawberry Fields, was created in Central Park.
Here’s another picture of the sign, thanks again to His and Hearse.
Trivia: In July of ’57, John’s mother was struck and killed, crossing a Liverpool road, trying to catch a bus. Here is the road where it happened.
More Trivia: Once, Lennon went on a bender, at the Troubador Nightclub in LA. In a drunken whimsy, he taped a Kotex to his forehead. When the waitress refused to give him what he thought was proper respect, he snapped, “Don’t you know who I am?” “Yeah, you’re some asshole with a Kotex on his head,” was her response.
In August of 1998, the record sleeve signed by Lennon for Chapman went on the auction block, and was expected to fetch over a million dollars. It was discovered in the planter outside the Dakota, between 30 minutes and an hour after Lennon was shot. This person that found it, kept it under his bed, until this auction. Don’t know if he made the million or not.
In December of the same year, John’s “Fuck Poem,” in which he wrote the word 104 times in 1969, sold for $5000.00.
A very nice friend of Findadeath.com sent me a post card of the Dakota, from 1909. I honestly forgot their name, so please, whoever you are, please forgive me, and THANK YOU.
Gilda Radner and Lauren Bacall both lived in the Dakota at the time. The film, “Rosemary’s Baby,” was made there as well.
Trivia: Findadeath.com friend Kevin Kusinitz sent in this great piece of trivia:
“Sugar Blues,” the book by Gloria Swanson’s husband, was a favorite book of John Lennon’s. Apparently, he’d hand out copies of the book the way Henry Ford did “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Lennon, like Gloria, was sure that sugar was the curse of the world. Of course, Lennon chain-smoked moccasin-like French cigarettes and downed about 20 cups of espresso a day. Real health nut, that Lennon. Thanks, Kevin.
Findadeath.com friend Kevin Hassell sends this bit of info: I work in a gas station, and I listen to classic rock a lot when I’m working inside the store. Anyway, one day Imagine was playing as one of my regulars came in. Upon hearing the song, he told me a very interesting story about Mr. Lennon. It seems that the customer had a cousin who worked as a masseuse for John and Yoko when they lived in New York in the Seventies. One of her jobs was to massage John’s nose five or six times a day. The reason for this was that John’s nose was so badly damaged by excessive cocaine use, that he constantly needed it to be massaged! I don’t think this is a made up story, as I can’t see what my customer would get out of making a story like that up. I thought you would be very interested to hear this new info about one of the greatest musicians that ever lived! – Very interesting, Kevin. Thank you very much.
This just in, January 2003, from Findadeath friend Ken from Brooklyn:
The last picture of Lennon in the morgue was actually published on the front page of The New York Post. A bumper sticker later surfaced with the phrase “Aren’t you ashamed of the New York Post?” with the same picture.
One more little story: Andy Kaufman went on David Letterman’s show soon after Albert Goldman published his Lennon book and ranted about Goldman. He said, “Mr. Goldman, I’m alive. Face and confront people who can defend themselves.” Letterman had to practically push Andy off the stage. Hope Goldman doesn’t decide to write about Andy!
Ken from Brooklyn
Hi….here’s just a little story about the murder of John Lennon, I’d like to share:
In 1984 or so, I used to live in Lindenhurst, Long Island, and I was catching a train to go west (toward the city). I saw this guy on the platform, and he looked familiar to me and I decided to speak to him (I usually wouldn’t do such a thing, but something told me to). This guy had on a work uniform, kind of like a sanitation worker with a jacket over it, so you couldn’t see who he was working for. I remember he had wavy hair and really thick sideburns, almost hippie looking.
I told him he looked familiar to me, and he said, “You must have seen me on TV”. He told me he worked for the coroners office. And then it clicked, I did see him a few years earlier, moving John Lennon’s body.
He told me he was on TV recently with the Jennifer Levin murder case, and just saying that she was outright strangled from what he saw, it wasn’t a rough sex thing that Robert Chambers (her murderer) had said it was.
I said to him that I had seen him on TV with Lennon’s body, and he replied yes, that he had moved it, and that a lot of people had gotten in to take pictures of Lennon. Some people were actually able to get in video cameras (they were rare in 1980). (I would imagine this was an after hours deal). He had even mentioned how people had moved Lennon’s mouth and made gestures of him going “Yeah, yeah, yeah”.
I was shocked to hear this, but according to this fellow, he was there.
A number of years later, I made a friend with someone who worked close to the police department, and he told me that they have a book of dead famous people that he’d seen. These are official police photos, but kept as a scrap book. I personally don’t know this first hand, but there’s another source for you.
Thank YOU, John! That is an amazing story, and thank you for sharing it with us.
Findadeath.com friend Mike sends us this: I was surfing through John Lennon’s “mortography” when I came upon Mark Chapman’s address at 55 S. Kukui in Honolulu.
Hey, I said to myself, that’s sounds like right around the corner. So, I packed my handy digicam and set out for Downtown. A piece of cake to find – the complex fills a whole city block right across the street from the main parking lot used for the Traffic court. Only problem, it has 2 buildings – Diamond Head and Ewa. Here in Honolulu they don’t use names like N, E, S, W, but Diamond Head (DH) for stuff on the east side, towards the famous hill, and Ewa for the west side, which used to be a nice beach, but now a gang infested suburb. Anyways, the DH building is the one in the foreground on the right, and I made the pic from DH side.
I would bet he lived inside one of these windows, because it is the favored side with a view and cooled by the trade winds. He drew sketches of Diamond Head, so I can imagine him sitting on a coach in there, gazing out this way, hatching his demonic plans.
I did visit someone inside the back Ewa building once, for some reason which I have long forgotten. The place was on the DH side about mid-floors level. Odds are not good it was Mark’s room. But, if we can find his apt. number somewhere…
John Lennon’s ghost found, by Findadeath.com friend Melissa: who sends us this link.
Findadeath.com friend Victor Park sends in this bit of audio: ( you need a real player to listen, and please download (Right click and SAVE AS) it instead of sucking my bandwidth. I would really appreciate it) of Howard Cosell announcing John Lennon’s death. This is how a lot of people got the first news of the event. Thanks Victor. Here’s another link.
UPDATED NOVEMBER 1999 – mucho thanks to Todd Alexander Dale, friend of Findadeath extraordinaire.
This just in, February 2005, from Findadeath friend Alex:
Listen, I wanted to point out that I just saw a program on the A&E Network on the assassination of John Lennon, and there was an extensive interview with all involved, the police, the doctors, etc.
In the site, it is mentioned that John died “in transit”, but that is not the case. He died at the hospital. They interviewed the doctor that performed emergency surgery on John, he mentioned that he opened his chest and held his heart, and that it needed massaging, as his blood pressure was not good when he arrived.
It was also mentioned that the whole staff was amazed at the situation, and that no one could believe that it was John Lennon, but he was accompanied by Yoko, plus he had identification on him in his wallet.
Thanks for the information, Alex!
Parting thought: In the words of Judy Tenuta, “I’m sorry, but if that guy would have aimed a little to the left, he would have been a hero.”
Thank you Steve Goldstein and Mark Langlois for Dakota pictures.