John Lennon's 42nd anniversary
Forty-two years ago, my generation experienced a shock, the expanding waves of which have never quite subsided. Response to the murder of John Lennon on December 8, 1980, was extreme in the beginning, with reports of several distraught fans committing suicide. In the midst of mourning her loss, Yoko Ono made a public appeal to John’s fans to stop killing themselves. In the years that followed, John became one of a handful of public figures whose absence seems especially painful in retrospect because we could use their voices and leadership in a time of enormous turmoil.
I also miss Frank Zappa, who died of prostate cancer in 1993, just three years after I had worked with him on creating his autobiography, The Real Frank Zappa Book. We could also use Abbie Hoffman, Fred Hampton, Huey Newton, and a number of other activists who met violent deaths over the years. I didn’t know any of those heroes personally, and I spent only a few hours with John Lennon, just three days before he died.
And yet John’s final work, Double Fantasy, was a public statement of his re-entry into life and love and devotion to his new family. He had even taken to calling himself a “house husband,” a term decades ahead of its time. On the forty-second anniversary of John’s untimely murder, I’d like to share the story of my meeting with John.