The Assassination of John Lennon


The Assassination of John Lennon

John Lennon is said to be the first non-political celebrity figure to ever be assassinated. It seems as though for every assassination, there is a conspiracy theory and this is no less true than when it comes to the killing of the former Beatle. Whether there is really any truth behind this theory or whether it’s a case of people continuing to be shocked and disbelieving that one man could do such a horrible thing, it will never be known. But the conspiracy exists, and it’s for individuals to decide for themselves.

It was on December 8, 1980 that John Lennon was killed. That morning, John Lennon and Yoko Ono would pose for the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine in what would become one of the most famous photos ever taken. The picture depicts a naked John curled up in the fetal position around Yoko. Anne Leibovitz came to their apartment to take the picture and she originally had in her mind trying to recreate the Double Fantasy cover because she had a true love of that picture. After taking the pictures, Leibovitz left the apartment with the pictures she had taken in her hand.

At approximately 5:00pm that same day, John and Yoko left their Dakota apartment to record “Walking on Thin Ice,” at Record Plant Studio. Used to being surrounded by their adoring fans, there were many as they walked to their waiting limousine. Lennon obligingly signed autographs along the way, including a Double Fantasy cover for a fan that would later be revealed as Mark David Chapman, Lennon’s assassin. Lennon signed the cover while Chapman remained silent and Lennon asked him, “Is that all you want?” to which Chapman replied, “Thank you, Mr. Lennon.” One more photo would be taken that would prove to be famous and that was a picture of the two together while Lennon signed his album for him.

Yoko and John spent hours at the recording studio, working on their track. They debated about going out to eat afterwards but it was already late and John wanted to say good-night to his five year old, Sean, before he fell asleep. They arrived back at the apartment at approximately 10:50pm. Also deciding against parking in the courtyard, which was more secure, the limousine dropped them off on 72nd Street.

Chapman was standing in a dark area by the archway and the limousine driver, the doorman, Jose Perdomo, and a cab driver all saw Chapman where he stood. As Yoko walked ahead of John and entered the lobby area of the building, the doorman yelled, “Mr. Lennon!” Just as Lennon started to turn around, Chapman came out from the archway, took a military stance, and fired five bullets at Lennon. The first bullet missed and hit a window in the building. Lennon however, did take two bullets in the left area of his back and two more in his shoulder. Lennon, badly hurt, stumbled up four steps to the reception area and said, “I’m shot.”

Jay Hastings, who was a concierge of the apartment building, first thought it was a joke but when he realized the truth, he pressed a silent alarm that summoned the police. Meanwhile, Perdomo shook the gun free of Chapman’s hand and kicked it across the sidewalk. “Do you know what you’ve done?” he shouted at Chapman, to which Chapman replied, “I just shot John Lennon.” When the police arrived moments later, they were said to have found Chapman sitting very calmly on the sidewalk holding a paperback book. The book was J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. The police loaded Lennon into their squad car, stretched out on the back seat and he lost consciousness shortly after.

It was in the Emergency Room of Roosevelt Hospital that Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival. This was due to the over eighty percent blood volume he had lost due to the gunshot wounds. He also had major damage to several vital arteries. Chapman pled guilt to second-degree murder and was sentenced to twenty years in prison. He remains in prison today after being denied four times for parole.

But is Chapman really responsible for Lennon’s murder? Some say that Chapman’s acts were those of a brainwashed man. He admitted that just before killing Lennon, he heard a voice repeated over and over in his head saying, “Do it, do it, do.” This leads some to believe that Chapman was actual just assigned to do the FBI’s dirty work, as they are supposedly, the ones that really wanted Lennon dead. This stems from the fact that Lennon was not very popular with government officials. He was a radical, a free-thinker, and someone who was loved by many. He was very influential on the country’s youth and government officials were worried that he may be influencing a little too much. To go along with this conspiracy theory, witnesses who saw Chapman that night say that he looked, “dead in the eyes,” and as though he had been programmed. He did not seem like a feeling or thinking human being.

While some say that it was definitely Chapman who did the killings with his motive for claiming his fifteen minutes of fame, others emphatically deny this. Due to the fact that he wanted the press to have nothing to do with it and he even asked one of the officers on the scene to protect him from the press, this claim to fame he’s said to have been looking for seems unlikely. This fits into the theory that those holding powerful positions in the government were behind it. Those figures include not only Richard Nixon but also J. Edgar Hoover.

Other theories include such off-the-wall ones such as Yoko did it herself, or that Paul McCartney did it to get back at Yoko for having him arrested on drug charges just a little while before Lennon died. Some even say that it was the doorman who killed Lennon and that Chapman just happened to be there. These theories are more absurd but for those looking for an ulterior motive, the government may be the place to start. 

The Assassination of John Lennon

The Assassination of John Lennon

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