John Lennon 30 years after his death: Lost interview surfaces, family and fans remember

john-lennon-1980Image Credit: Steve Sands/AP ImagesJohn Lennon‘s life ended far too soon on Dec. 8, 1980. His murder can still be painful to think about, even after so much time has passed. What are we supposed to do when confronted with a crime so senseless, a loss so needless? Today, on the 30th anniversary of Lennon’s death, we might as well remember all the joy he brought into the world while he was still alive. Several newly published pieces might help fans do that.

The latest issue of Rolling Stone features one of Lennon’s final interviews, conducted just three days before he died and never before released in full. The audio excerpts RS has posted online are essential listening. “I’m not claiming divinity,” Lennon said at one point. “I’ve never claimed divinity. I’ve never claimed purity of soul. I’ve never claimed to have the answer to life. I’ve never made any claims. I only put out songs and answer questions as honestly as I can.” Later he spoke on the ways his philosophy had and hadn’t changed since the idealistic ’60s: “I see the world through different eyes now, [but] I still believe in love, peace and understanding, as Elvis Costello said. What’s so f—ing funny about love, peace, and understanding?

A short remembrance written by Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono and published on her site and in the New York Times today is even more heartbreaking. It opens with her memory of making tea together in their New York City apartment — the kind of mundane pleasure that they were later robbed of for no good reason. “On this day, the day he was assassinated, what I remember is the night we both cracked up drinking tea,” Ono writes in closing. “They say teenagers laugh at the drop of a hat. Nowadays I see many teenagers sad and angry with each other. John and I were hardly teenagers. But my memory of us is that we were a couple who laughed.”

The Kinks’ Ray Davies also published a eulogy for Lennon in today’s Times. They didn’t know each other very well on a personal level, but the former Beatle had been a great artistic inspiration for Davies — not entirely different from the role he played in many fans’ lives. After hearing of Lennon’s death, Davies writes, “I thought back to when I was a 17-year-old student in the recreation room at art college and heard John sing ‘Twist and Shout’ on the record player, and how I was blown away by his directness. How his voice cut through all the nonsense and sent a message to me that said, ‘If I can do it then so can you, so get up off your backside and play some rock ‘n’ roll,’ as if to throw down a musical gauntlet.”

Later tonight, I will go to Strawberry Fields in New York City’s Central Park along with many others to stand in the cold and sing Lennon’s songs. How will you be remembering him? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix)

More on The Music Mix:
John Lennon’s solo years: Reissue campaign marks what would have been his 70th birthday
Yoko Ono: The Music Mix Q&A

Comments (59 total) Add your comment
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  • Robin Hoffman

    The years pass, yet the sting of losing John Lennon so senselessly never subsides. It is good that we honor his memory.

    • rj the miget


    • Nancy

      I still cry over the loss of John. I often think about what could have been. Such a horrible shame.

    • Person Who Talks

      Rest in peace, John. You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten.

  • john

    Hanging with my dad, who is also a big John Lennon fan, and listen to all his great tunes

  • Andrew

    I remmember hearing “Please please me” when I was a schoolboy around 1964….from then on all I wanted to do was emulate the Beatles,their nmusic,their fashion,their attitude.John Lennon was the founder of this group who changed everything.No Lennon,no Beatles. Its as simple as that.

  • Kelisha888

    It still hurts so much. My son celebrates his 22nd birthday tomorrow, and we listen to John together. We recently watched “LENNONYC” on PBS, and my son had never realized that John had just come back from a very dark place, and was at his very happiest. So, so sad.

    • talkin’

      Maybe this was his last karmic blessing – he did leave on a high note, after all that misery.
      Doesn’t lessen Yoko’s pain, sadly.

      • Claudia

        John was so talented. He and the Beatles had such a positve message to deliver. Actually, I recently saw the anthology, and I think the Beatles, created by John Lennon, were a karmic destiny. I think they had a spiritual impact on the world. What a loss to the world John’s death was, but at least it seems he had accomplished what he set out to do and did leave on a high note.

  • Scott

    Heard the news of his death on “Monday Night Football” about an hour after he passed away.
    I have never been quite the same since.

  • Linda

    My day started on a somber note, remembering the importance of this date. My husband knowing how sad I would be today surprised me with a small box. Inside was the new 5 pound silver commerative coin that has been issued in England for the 30th anniversary of John Lennons death. Just typing the words brings tears to my eyes.
    May he reast in PEACE.

  • Old Rocker

    I think that John Lennon’s moral compass was always pointed towards the truth about ones self. He had faults like all of us, but he at least was conscience about trying to be real and true to himself. Peace,love and understanding. It dosen’t get better than that.

  • m

    The biggest tragedy in Rock and Roll.

    As a hip hop fan, which despite some critics’ assumptions, is an entire different entity than other genres of music, I don’t know much about Mr. Lennon, only the sadness his death brought to so many people.

  • daviddavid

    I remember quite well where I was 30 years ago; and, I tell you: I am now officially old. The older I get the more satisfaction I seem to get is from when someone first discovers his muswic. Even me; I just listened to “I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier” from Imagine …. first itme in years.
    Damn, he was a good songwriter.
    RIP my friend!

  • Penny

    I was getting ready to go to work that day. I was just shy of my 30th birthday then, as I am just shy of my 60th. Yes. I too am officially old. “Working Class Hero” was one of my favorite songs in my 20s, and I was in a Beatles fan club at 13. No John, no Beatles indeed. RIP.

  • Vint

    Although I completely agree with the sentiment of loss regarding John Lennon, I would hereby like to suggest that ALL journalists reconsider the phrase, “senseless violence, which is used so often in relation to gun violence that it’s become cliche. After all, IS there a time when a violent, criminal, act is actually deemed sensible?

    • Mab

      Never sensible…. but sometimes necessary one life to save millions scenario. however violence is never truly justified… R.I.P. John…

    • Claudia

      good point

  • Casey

    I remember seeing it on the news as a small child and how it affected my parents. I was already a Beatles fan but was too young to realize that the man singing on our stereo was the same man so many were mourning at the time. Boy I can’t believe it’s been 30 years.

  • Deborah

    Cruel. What’s wrong with your life ?

  • Winona

    I miss him every day, but trying to focus on the positive… without thinking, I put my “I <3 NY" songs on today, and when I put my iTunes on shuffle, "In My Life" was the first song that came up. Still trying to figure out how and when to let my Beatle-loving 4-year-old daughter know that both John and George are gone.

  • Beth

    I was 10 years old when his senseless death took place, and it’s taken me all this time to completely appreciate all the wonderful things Mr. Lennon accomplished both creatively and as a human in his short time on earth. There’s a pall over today while I remember and give thanks.

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