Inside John Lennon’s last days in NYC before his 1980 death

John Lennon’s new Yohji Yamamoto jacket was beautiful. So a lot in order that he wished to be photographed in his luxurious garment — with gold Asian characters operating down the left arm, roughly translating to “The fact of the universe is in your coronary heart and in your thoughts.” He referred to as his good friend, rock ‘n’ roll photographer Bob Gruen, and invited him to the Record Plant studio in Midtown Manhattan. Lennon and his spouse, Yoko Ono, had been engaged on a brand new music there, referred to as “Walking on Thin Ice.”

Gruen had shot the long-lasting picture of Lennon sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with the phrases “New York City,” and so they had established a friendship the place the singer would repeatedly ask Gruen to {photograph} him.

It was Friday afternoon, Dec. 5, 1980, when Gruen arrived on the Record Plant for what could be their remaining session collectively. Three days later, on Dec. 8, the previous Beatle and hero to tens of millions could be gunned down by an obsessed fan, Mark David Chapman, in entrance of The Dakota, the place Lennon lived with his household.

Gruen recalled that Lennon, 40, was in an upbeat mind-set. He appeared ahead to seeing the images, which the photographer developed in his darkroom two days later. He hoped to have them performed in time to drop by the Record Plant studio and catch Lennon and Ono there.

Hours before fan Mark David Chapman (right) shot Lennon to death, the two were caught together in this photograph as Lennon signed an ­autograph for him.
Hours before fan Mark David Chapman (proper) shot Lennon to death, the 2 had been caught collectively in this {photograph} as Lennon signed an ­autograph for him.
Popperfoto by way of Getty Images

“But,” mentioned Gruen, “I used to be operating late. A good friend from California referred to as with the information about John. I sunk to the ground.” Emerging particulars introduced a troubling thought: “Had I gotten to the studio, I might need modified issues. I might have inspired them to exit to eat. I had a sense that my being there could have made issues completely different. I felt responsible about that for a very long time.”

Lennon was in a superb place on the time of his death — a world away from his so-called “misplaced weekend,” really a interval from 1973 till 1975, throughout which he partied laborious in Los Angeles and launched into an affair with his former assistant May Pang. According to the BBC’s Andy Peebles, the topic of “Lennon’s Last Weekend”who interviewed the singer on Saturday, Dec. 6, 1980, singer Harry Nilsson as soon as dared Lennon to leap out of a dashing automotive on an LA freeway. Lennon obliged, later telling Peebles, “I used to be so excessive on medicine that I did not suppose twice.”

But since 1975, he had been in New York City with his household. He saved a photograph of his son Sean, 5, in the studio. “John embraced the enjoyment of being in a household,” mentioned Gruen. “He was going to hold that message on a tour of the world.”

Lennon, with wife Ono, asked his friend, photographer Bob Gruen, to snap him in his new jacket just days before the singer was killed. Gruen wonders if he could have saved Lennon.
Lennon, with spouse Ono, requested his good friend, photographer Bob Gruen, to snap him in his new jacket simply days before the singer was killed. Gruen wonders if he might have saved Lennon.
Bob Gruen

Lennon and Ono’s album, “Double Fantasy,” had been launched in October 1980 and was climbing the charts. Lennon beloved seeing his spouse’s music being embraced. He didn’t thoughts that his new tunes had been being written off as “center of the street.” Remembered Gruen: “John mentioned, ‘That’s OK. We’re happening the center of the street to the financial institution.’ 

Dec. 8 started earlyfor Lennon and Ono. They ate breakfast at their normal desk in their favourite neighborhood restaurant, Café La Fortuna. It was a modest spot, identified for Italian pastries and opera. After John’s death, the desk was positioned in the window as a memento mori.

Morning meal accomplished, Lennon slipped out for a haircut. Enjoying the town, he strolled with out a bodyguard. Some argue that the liberty he beloved could have performed him in.
James Patterson, co-author of “The Last Days of John Lennon” (Little, Brown and Company), out Monday, instructed The Post that photographer Harry Benson — who snapped the Beatles throughout the band’s first US tour and remained pleasant with Lennon — had issues. “He mentioned that if John hadn’t been killed, one thing tragic would have occurred to him [anyway],” mentioned Patterson. “He felt that John would take one too many possibilities and by some means expose himself.”

Photographer Bob Gruen
Photographer Bob Gruen

But Lennon was having an excessive amount of enjoyment for grim ideas. “John was very humorous,” mentioned Gruen, remembering strolling previous a schoolyard with him. “Kids had been taking part in basketball and considered one of them yelled, ‘Hey, John, when are you going to get the Beatles again collectively?’ John replied, ‘When are you going again to highschool?’ ”

On the day of the singer’s assassination, he returned residence with his locks styled in the combed-back method of a Teddy boy, throwing again to his Nineteen Fifties youth in Liverpool. Annie Leibovitz, Rolling Stone’s chief photographer, arrived for a canopy shoot.

Publisher Jann Wenner wished Lennon alone. But throughout an interview with author Jonathan Cott, in keeping with the e book “Sticky Fingers,” Lennon had mentioned, “If they do not need the 2 of us, we’re not .”

Leibovitz pressed for the desires of her boss, however Lennon remained unrelenting. Then she confirmed him a nude drawing for inspiration. Lennon stripped down instantly. Ono demurred. He coiled round his spouse, tenderly kissing her cheek. Leibovitz confirmed him a Polaroid. He beloved it. The ex-Beatle is alleged to have proclaimed, “That is it. This is our relationship.”

Days later, the Rolling Stone cowl function reworked into an obituary. “It was so profound,” Mary Shanahan, Rolling Stone’s artwork director on the time, instructed The Post of the now-famous picture. “Maybe an individual mustn’t show that degree of vulnerability.”

In the gutter between the journal’s back and front cowl, Wenner left a secret message to John: “I really like you. You’re with God. I’ll do what I mentioned. ‘Yoko, maintain on’ — I’ll ensure, I promise. ” (It stays a thriller what Wenner really promised)

Mark David Chapman
Mark David Chapman
Getty Images

After Leibovitz left, Lennon and Ono met with radio host Dave Sholin and producer Laurie Kaye for a free-flowing interview in The Dakota residence. They talked concerning the rigors of parenting. With Ono outed because the household disciplinarian, Lennon drily joked, “You’re one of the best father he is ever had.”

Some 90 minutes later, all of them headed downstairs. A small crowd waited exterior, hoping to snag autographs. A heavyset younger man in an overcoat stood amongst them, waving a replica of “Double Fantasy.” Accommodatingly, the singer wrote, “John Lennon, 1980.”

“Is that each one?” Lennon requested. “Do you need the rest?”

The man shook his head no. In the midst of this, a photograph was snapped by Paul Goresh — an novice lenser who had his personal historical past with Lennon: He improbably went from sneaking into the rock star’s residence by posing as a VCR repairman, to changing into pleasant sufficient to affix him on walks across the neighborhood. The picture captured Lennon inches away from his future murderer Chapman, the fan he had simply met.

After that second, Lennon and Yoko headed off in a automotive to the Record Plant for a remaining pay attention of their new music.

“They had been so effing pumped and steady,” Steve Marcantonio, assistant engineer on the session, recalled to The Post. “John was so clear.” During a time when cocaine was as frequent as Coca-Cola, “he didn’t also have a beer or a glass of wine. John referred to as Yoko ‘Mother’ once in a while.”

Lennon (right) with Paul Gorash, the final person to get his autograph, shortly before he was killed.
Lennon (proper) with Paul Gorash, the ultimate particular person to get his autograph, shortly before he was killed.

Lennon and Ono signed off on the recording. Sam Ginsberg, who had been an engineer on the Record Plant, instructed The Post in 2005, “John was pleased that it was going to be Yoko’s single as an alternative of his single. We simply completed mixing that music and so they left. The one factor that caught in my thoughts was John saying, ‘I’m hungry. Should we cease at Wolf’s for a hamburger?'”

Ever the adoring dad, John opted as an alternative to move residence so they might see Sean. Their limousine pulled as much as The Dakota’s entrance gate at round 10:50 p.m.

“The automotive might have gone deeper into the driveway, and so they might have stepped out proper the place the door is,” Keith Elliot Greenberg, who authored “December 8, 1980: The Day John Lennon Died,” instructed The Post. “But [Lennon] selected to step onto the sidewalk, as he often did. He preferred the followers.”

Chapman was ready. This time, he assumed a fight stance, aimed his .38 Special revolver and shot 4 hollow-point bullets into the singer’s torso. Lennon collapsed.

Police raced to the scene and Chapman was handcuffed. Two officers carried the ­dying Lennon to the again of their patrol automotive. Siren wailing, they roared off to the old Roosevelt Hospital at Ninth Avenue and 59th Street. Ono trailed in a second police car.
Engineer Marcantonio heard the information by way of a TV taking part in in the Record Plant studio.

"Imagine" memorial in Strawberry Fields, Central Park, NYC.
“Imagine” memorial in Strawberry Fields, Central Park, NYC.
Robert Miller

“I quickly bought a name from Lila Wassenaar, who managed the Record Plant,” he mentioned. “She instructed me, ‘Get the entire [‘Thin Ice’] tapes in the vault. John had his personal vault there. We did not need folks coming in, grabbing the tapes or listening to them.”

According to Rolling Stone’s Shanahan, Leibovitz acted equally: “She went to the lab and bought the movie instantly.”

Kaye, nonetheless on a excessive from interviewing Lennon and Ono, heard a radio report of the taking pictures. “I raced to hospital,” she mentioned. “I appeared via the … window and noticed Yoko inside. She was crying. I knew, at that second, that John was deceased.”

Had he lived, Gruen speculates, the world could be higher for it. “I assume he’d be vibrant and making nice music. John had grown up by 1980 and he realized that dwelling a sober life is actually enjoyable. I might see him placing that out into the world. Plus, John was so good with the one liners — considered one of my favorites from him was, ‘Time you take pleasure in losing just isn’t wasted.’ He would have been unbelievable on Twitter.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here