John Lennon: I heard the news that day, oh boy.


I heard the news that day, oh, boy. On the night of December 8th, 1980, I was driving along Haverford Ave and was stopped at a red light at College Ave, near Haverford College. I was heading home to Overbrook from my shift at the Wayne Acme Market. I was listening to Famous56 WFIL radio.

I heard the news that day, oh boy. As I sat at that light, the news came over that John Lennon had been shot. Details were still extremely sketchy, shock was evident in the voice of the DJ and I sat through a red light trying to take in what I heard. I switched to the FM dial on my radio and tuned in the audio for WPVI TV6, since that frequency could be picked up at 87.7. They were running Monday Night Football so I twisted the dial to try to find more details.

I heard the news that day, oh boy. I drove home as fast as I could and turned on the TV, By now, it was known that John Lennon was dead, killed by a man who just hours earlier was shown kindness by John in his signing an album cover for him, one Mark David Chapman. Howard Cosell informed all of us during the football game, a game that no longer meant a damn thing. For the next few days, I kept feeding VHS tapes into my VCR to capture that moment for the future but also to be some part of the worldwide mourning.

I heard the news that day, oh boy. The news was unreal because it was not only the loss of a life, but also a loss of a major part of our own lives, of my life. John had been absent from the public scene for 5 years, choosing to be a house husband and to raise Sean. However, in 1980, John was ready to create again and released DOUBLE FANTASY which sadly became the tale of where he was at that time and the hope that was now dashed. Each song had a positive spirt, rooted in his domestic life, celebrating his young son with the gorgeous lullaby to Sean, BEAUTIFUL BOY, and a rocking ode to kickstarting both his private family life and his public career.

I heard the news the coming days, oh boy. Over the next few days, and this was well before social media to trigger any response, the world mourned. Spontaneous human gathering formed in every major city. In Philadelphia, fans flocked to the steps of the Art Museum to mourn his death but more importantly, to celebrate a life that had been a huge part of our own consciousness. The voice raised and singing “All we are saying, is give peace a chance” was haunting, sad, and inspiring. Bruce Springsteen played the Spectrum the next night and opened with a tribute to John.


I heard the news those days, oh boy, DOUBLE FANTASY sales would go through the roof as people needed something, anything, as a final goodbye to John. And given the subject matter of John’s songs on that album, despite the horrendous murder, that goodbye was tempered by the fact that at that point in time, John may have been the happiest he had been in years.


I heard the news that day, oh boy. The world would mourn, the surviving Beatles would find their own ways to pay tribute, and John would never really be gone. But for that one moment, it felt like we could never again imagine a world without John. 34 years later, John is always just a #9 Dream away.

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