Imagining: The Death of John Lennon

Thirty years have passed since Mark David Chapman fatally shot John Lennon outside of his New York City apartment, the Dakota.

“And while Lennon read a book of Marx,The quartet practiced in the park,

And we sang dirges in the dark The day the music died.”
~ American Pie, Don McLean

Mark David Chapman got what he wanted. He wanted to be remembered; he wanted to leave his mark. He did this by taking the life of a brilliant mind, a peaceful soul, a loving husband and father. Obviously, his psychosis goes beyond a desire to be remembered. Fuelled by hatred and love in equal doses, 30 years ago today, Chapman shot a man who represented an entire generation and was one quarter of, arguably, the greatest band of all time.

Remembered? Yes. And there’s nothing in this world we can do about it. His deed, his sickness, his legacy is permanently etched in the minds of several generations to the point where the mere mention of his name triggers anger in many. Actor Mark Lindsay Chapman had previously been refused the role of John Lennon in the biographical film “John and Yoko: A Love Story” prior to playing the legend in “Chapter 27″ simply because of his name.

Where were you when John Lennon died?

The day after Lennon was shot, I heard the news while hurrying up my street after school. It was freezing and the wind was so bad I could barely hear. Jason, my neighbour, came tearing up behind me screaming at the top of his lungs that John Lennon was dead and I had to ask him to repeat himself a couple of times because I was certain I misheard because of the wind.

When I realized what he’d said, I couldn’t understand. He’d said someone shot Lennon and he’d died the night before. It didn’t make sense to me based on what I knew of this man and what he stood for. It was more than the music that touched me. I was young and I wanted all the ‘peace on earth and good will toward men’ that he preached to be true. So who on earth makes the decision to take that kind of a life out of this world?

Regardless of the reasons, it was done. Everything he’d planned to do, all that he had already done – it was all stopped short by one bullet from a gun held by a man who wanted infamy and desperately needed help. It’s inconceivable to me that nobody noticed that this person was dangerous. It’s even more inconceivable that nobody did anything about that, but I guess it happens all the time.

The aftermath of the death of a legend

So for now, denied parole six times, Mark David Chapman sits in Attica prison – housed, clothed, fed and every year we remember him and what he did because we’ve lost 30 years of a life we could have celebrated – the musical and political strides John Lennon could have made.

Instead, Yoko Ono must resign herself to perhaps a lifetime of parole hearings where she must once again oppose the release of the monster who took him away from her, her son, his son and a world that was so touched by his music and ideals that almost none of us have forgotten where we were when we heard that John Lennon was killed.

Photo credit: Strawberry Fields in Central Park, New York by Zugaldia