John Lennon Was Killed 35 Years Ago Today

Today marks the 35th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder in front of the Dakota in New York by shooter Mark David Chapman.
The entrance of the Dakota where John Lennon was murdered in 1980
The entrance of the Dakota where John Lennon was murdered in 1980.

John Lennon was gunned down here at the entrance of the Dakota in New York City 35 years ago today. The shooter was 26-year-old Mark David Chapman, a disillusioned Beatles fan. He was angered by the feeling that Lennon was phony, a man who preached “imagine no possessions” but had accumulated millions. Chapman, a christian, was also upset by Lennon’s statement that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.

Chapman had been planning the murder for three months. On December 6th, 1980 he flew from his home in Hawaii to New York. On December 8th, he spent most of the day waiting near the entrance of the Dakota. He had met Lennon’s 5-year-old son Sean on a walk with the housekeeper, and shook his hand. Later in the afternoon Lennon left the building for a recording session. Chapman stopped him, asking him to sign a copy of the album Double Fantasy. Eerily, this moment was captured on film by photographer Paul Goresh.

John Lennon just hours before his murder
John Lennon signs an album for his killer just hours before he was gunned down. Photo by Paul Goresh.

When Lennon returned that night, Chapman was still waiting. Lennon was passing through the large arched doorway to go inside when Chapman opened fire from the street. He shot Lennon four times in the back, then stood at the scene reading J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye until police arrived and arrested him. Inside the book, he had inscribed the words “This is my statement.”

Strawberry Fields Imagine memorial
Strawberry Field Imagine memorial for John Lennon in Central Park.

Though I’ve never been a fan of John Lennon or the Beatles, standing where his life ended during my trip to New York in 2012 was an incredibly sad, though profound, experience. Here, the world lost a powerful artist, a sonic shaman, someone who could truly move the world.