December 8, 1980: A Day We Can Never Forget

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John Lennon in 1968

Like November 22, 1963, and like September 11, 2001, the date December 8, 1980, is one that millions instantly recognize. And it’s a date we wish we could forget, one that makes us shudder. It was on that night that the senseless murder of John Lennon took place. We won’t even mention the name of his killer because he does not deserve the attention. Instead, let’s remember John.

We lost him at 40. He was an artist, a cultural icon, a man of peace who gave so much of himself, who defined us and gave us direction. We will miss him until we too have our day.

John Lennon really didn’t spend a lot of time in our midst. From the Beatles’ start in 1962 until his passing on December 8, 1980, was only 18 years. Only eight of those years were with the Beatles. Think about that—many artists today release one or two albums in an eight-year span; the Beatles went from “She Loves You” to Sgt. Pepper to Abbey Road in that time. And then, other than a break in the midst of the ’70s when he largely stayed out of music and rediscovered himself, Lennon crafted some of his most stunning work: “Imagine,” “Whatever Gets You Through the Night,” “Mind Games,” “#9 Dream” and, finally, upon his return, Double Fantasy, split between himself and Yoko. Some of the tunes on that recording, released just shortly before his death, were among Lennon’s finest: “(Just Like) Starting Over,” “Watching the Wheels,” “Woman,” “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy).”

We’ll never know what John Lennon would have created had he lived, of course. Would he have continued to create new music, toured the world, found new collaborators, perhaps re-teamed with some old ones? Or would he have settled back into the domestic life he’d enjoyed so much with his wife, deciding he’d had enough of the music world?

Related: A Beatle fan’s memorable meeting and friendship with John Lennon

The Empire State Building, in blue, to honor John Lennon, on his birthday, October 9, 2020, at 6:50 p.m. via EarthCam

Two gifts he did leave us were a couple of other talented singer-songwriter-musicians: his oldest son, Julian, from his first wife, Cynthia, and the aforementioned “Beautiful Boy,” John and Yoko’s son, Sean Lennon. Only 5 when his father was killed, Sean later followed in John’s footsteps, learning to write songs, sing and play instruments. As an adult he’s created excellent music of his own, at times collaborating with Yoko Ono, his mom.

Both sons are now older than their dad ever got to be. Of course we will always wish that things had turned out differently on that horrible December night, but John Lennon, thankfully, will always be with us through his music.

Watch the video for his joyous “Whatever Gets You Through the Night,” a #1 U.S. pop hit in 1974

(Best Classic Bands’ friend, radio DJ Dennis Elsas, had a historic interview with Lennon, when he visited Elsas at New York’s WNEW-FM on September 28, 1974. You can listen to it here.)

Watch the video of one of John’s classics

Related: John is Forever – Yoko Ono at USPS event for the 2018 Lennon stamp

Best Classic Bands Staff

7 Comments so far

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  1. DJ
    #1 DJ 9 October, 2016, 21:57

    Happy Birthday John!!

    Reply this comment
  2. Cappy
    #2 Cappy 8 December, 2017, 00:20

    In reading this article, I was rather surprised at the omission of John’s first born son, Julian, and his accomplishments.

    Reply this comment
    • Jane
      Jane 8 December, 2017, 19:03

      I’m not surprised at all. Julian has always been overlooked despite the fact he has, in my opinion, proven to be a better singer/songwriter than Sean ever has. And by the way, why is there no global mourning on November 30th, the anniversary of George Harrison’s passing?

      Reply this comment
      • Jim
        Jim 11 December, 2017, 20:50

        George wasn’t murdered like John. Although he was attacked by a crazed fan also, stabbed in the chest and would probably have been killed it not for Olivia hitting the guy in the head with a lamp.

        Reply this comment
      • Arizona
        Arizona 9 December, 2018, 15:13

        George dies on Nov 29.

        Reply this comment
  3. Fab41964
    #3 Fab41964 8 December, 2017, 19:28

    Friend, it’s not his birthday… it’s
    the 37th annv. of his murder.
    Julian is great, hope he returns to musicianship, if he prefers photography .. so be it.

    Reply this comment
  4. Jim
    #4 Jim 11 December, 2017, 20:48

    The only two rock guitarists that I know of that were gunned down by crazed fans, John and Darrell Abbott of Pantera, were killed on my birthday, Dec. 8th. It is also the birthday of Jim Morrison (of the infamous 27 club) and Gregg Allman (the 69 club earlier this year). I’ve always been a big fan of the Beatles, Doors and Allman Bros Band, not so much Pantera. I found out about John on the day after my 30th birthday. Such a shock, the Beatles got me into music and John was my favorite.

    Reply this comment

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