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Murder of John Lennon

08/12/1980

On the evening of 8 December 1980, the English musician John Lennon, formerly of the Beatles, was shot and killed in the archway of the Dakota, his residence in New York City. The perpetrator was Mark David Chapman, a recently unemployed resident of Hawaii who was incensed by Lennon's lifestyle and public statements, especially his decade-old songs "Imagine" and "God" and his much-publicized 1966 remark about the Beatles being "more popular than Jesus". Weeks earlier, Lennon released his first album since 1975, Double Fantasy, which had marked a comeback for the musician.

Chapman planned the killing over the course of several months and arrived in New York City two days prior. He began waiting for Lennon at the Dakota on the morning of 8 December. During the afternoon, he met Lennon, who signed his copy of Double Fantasy before leaving for a recording session at Record Plant Studio. Around 10:50 p.m., Lennon returned with his wife Yoko Ono. From the street behind them, Chapman fired five hollow-point bullets from a .38 special revolver, four of which hit Lennon in the back and shoulder, puncturing his left lung and left subclavian artery. Chapman remained at the scene and was promptly arrested. Lennon was rushed in a police cruiser to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

A worldwide outpouring of grief ensued on an unprecedented scale. The first media report of Lennon's death to a US national audience was announced by sportscaster Howard Cosell, on ABC's Monday Night Football. Crowds gathered at Roosevelt Hospital and in front of the Dakota, and at least three Beatles fans committed suicide. The event also inspired songs, films, physical memorials, annual gatherings, and other commemorations. The 2016 biographical film The Lennon Report focuses on the hospital staff who tried to resuscitate Lennon, while two other films centre on Chapman and the murder: The Killing of John Lennon (2006) and Chapter 27 (2007).

Lennon was cremated at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York on 12 December; the ashes were given to Ono, who chose not to hold a funeral for him. Chapman pleaded guilty to the murder and was given a reduced sentence of 20-years-to-life imprisonment. He has been denied parole 10 times since becoming eligible in 2000.


The Dakota, Lennon's residence and the location of the killing
The Dakota, Lennon's residence and the location of the killing
John Lennon's Last Day and Death in New York City

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Published in 13/06/2019

Updated in 19/02/2021

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