The Beatles were prone to police encounters
In the summer and fall of 1980 John Lennon and Yoko Ono worked at the New York Hit Factory on "Double Fantasy", Lennon's last album. ROLLING STONE editor Arne Willander wrote about it:
The album includes some of the best pieces that John Lennon wrote after “Plastic Ono Band” - including “I'm Stepping Out”, “Nobody Told Me”, “I Don't Wanna Face It” and “Borrowed Time” complemented the record, it would have been a great, if not at all modern, rock album. Yoko's eclectic, partly rhythmically driving, partly pompous-sentimental pieces have the greatest possible distance from Lennon's flimsy guitar attacks. Albert Goldman calls "(Just Like) Starting Over" a "return to the old style", "a cramped and pimped up trifle" - but the piece is more a touching reminiscence of the early days of rock'n'roll.
What was still missing was a label to release the LP. For the advance payment of one million dollars and 50 percent of the royalties on the songs, David Geffen was awarded the contract. Lennon doesn't want to get a cent less than Paul or Mick, at least that's what the then head of Atlantic Records, Bruce Lundvall, said.🛒 Order Double Fantasy by John Lennon and Yoko Ono now from Amazon.de
The photo on the cover was taken while walking in Central Park, not far from the Dakota Building. The photographer Kishin Shinoyama recalled the day in September: “Some people said hello to John and Yoko. They walked hand in hand, both dressed in black, and smiled. They talked to each other while I was taking pictures. We walked slowly to a quiet place in the park where no one was around. I asked them to kiss - and they did. It was a perfect moment. But the motif that can be seen on the cover of "Double Fantasy" is the very first photo I took in the park. "
The first single "(Just Like) Starting Over" landed in the top ten of the American charts in October 1980, the album later on number eleven. Bruce Springsteen's “The River” took first place, much to Lennon's amazement.
In his dissatisfaction with George Martin's arrangement of "Strawberry Fields Forever," Lennon wrote songs that were characterized by simplicity. In an interview with British journalist Andy Peebles, he said: “Latently I still have the feeling that I have to be a macho - Butch Cassidy or tough Lennon in the leather jacket. In reality, I am very romantic and always have been. 'Woman' feels like an eighties version of 'Girl', I call it the Beatles track. In Bermuda it suddenly dawned on me what women mean, not as a sex object or as a mother, but only through their contribution. I can't express what I think about the woman better than I did in this song. It's for Yoko, but it's for all women. ”The interview took place on December 7, 1980. The next day, John Lennon was shot dead by Mark David Chapman.
Who is Mark David Chapman?
Mark David Chapman was born on May 10, 1955 in Fort Worth, Texas, but lived in Decatur, Georgia, from the age of seven. His parents, David and Diane, were in the Air Force and nurses, respectively. Chapman's sister was born seven years after him. From the outside, the Chapmans looked like a quintessentially American family - but inside there were major difficulties. Mark's father was a distant man who didn't even show his emotions to his son. He often beat his wife, which his son could see but could not prevent. At school, the unsportsmanlike and a little chubby Mark was teased by his classmates.
All of these feelings of helplessness led Mark to develop strange fantasies very early in his childhood.
At the age of ten, he envisioned an entire civilization of tiny people who he believed lived in the walls of his bedroom. He had imaginary conversations with them and later came to regard them as his subjects and himself as their king. This fantasy existed until he was 25 years old - the age at which he shot John Lennon.
From drugs to Jesus
Chapman managed to keep such strange tendencies to himself, however, and appeared like a normal young man to those who knew him. Like many who grew up in the 1960s, he let himself be carried away by the zeitgeist and regularly consumed LSD as an adolescent. However, at the age of 17, Chapman suddenly declared himself a born-again Christian. He renounced drugs and the hippie lifestyle, began attending prayer meetings and pursuing a strong religious belief. Many of his friends at the time claimed that the change came so suddenly that they saw it as some sort of split personality.
Soon after, Chapman became a consultant at the YMCA - a job he enjoyed with passionate dedication. He was very popular with the children he looked after; he dreamed of becoming director of the YMCA and working as a Christian missionary abroad. Despite his successes, Chapman was undisciplined and devoid of ambition. He briefly attended Community College in Decatur, but soon dropped out due to pressure from academic work.
He then flew to Beirut, Lebanon as a YMCA consultant, only to be forced to return home shortly afterwards when the Lebanese civil war broke out. After a brief stay in a camp for Vietnamese refugees in Arkansas, Chapman decided to try again at the college.
In 1976, at the suggestion of his extremely religious friend Jessica Blankenship, Mark Chapman enrolled in a religious college. The couple had known each other since second grade. Again, Chapman only stayed one semester. Chapman's failures at university resulted in another drastic change in his personality. He began to question his purpose in life and his devotion to his faith. His changing moods also strained his relationship with Jessica, from which he soon separated.
Chapman grew discouraged. He saw himself as a failure in everything he did and often spoke of suicide. His friends were concerned about him, but had no idea what this change in Chapman's temper would mean. He was looking for a change and at the suggestion of a friend, Dana Reeves - a budding police officer, decided to take shooting lessons and acquire a license to carry firearms. Soon after, Reeves managed to get Chapman a job as a security guard.
But the darkness around Chapman continued. He decided to change his surroundings and moved to Hawaii in 1977. He made several suicide attempts, all of which failed. Eventually he ended up in a mental health facility. After two weeks of outpatient treatment, he got a job in the hospital's print shop and occasionally even volunteered in psychiatry.
On a whim, Chapman decided to take a trip around the world. He fell in love with Gloria Abe, the tour operator who helped him book the trip. The two corresponded frequently in letters, and upon returning to Hawaii, Chapman asked Abe to become his wife. The couple married in the summer of 1979.
Although Chapman's life appeared to be improving, his downward spiral continued and his increasingly erratic behavior worried his wife. Abe claimed that Chapman began to drink heavily, abused her, and made frequent threatening calls to complete strangers. His temper became heated and he was prone to violent outbursts. Abe also noted that Chapman became increasingly obsessed with JD Salinger's seminal 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye.
"The catcher in the rye"
It is unclear when exactly Chapman discovered Salinger's novel. What is certain, however, is that it had a profound effect on him in the late 1970s. He identified himself strongly with the book's protagonist, Holden Caulfield, a youth who fights against the apparent falsehood of the adults around him. In the story, Caulfield seeks to save children from the misconduct of adulthood. Mark Chapman saw himself as a real Holden Caulfield. He even told his wife that he wanted to change his name to Holden Caulfield. He is extremely angry about the falsehood of people, especially celebrities.
The anger towards John Lennon was already deeper at this point. His famous statement that the Beatles had become more popular than Jesus shocked the fanatical believer and at the same time great Beatles fan Mark Chapman in 1966. In October 1980 Esquire magazine published an article about Lennon, which portrayed the former Beatle as a drug-obsessed millionaire, who had lost touch with his fans and his music. Chapman read the article with increasing anger and saw Lennon as the ultimate hypocrite as described in Salinger's novel.
When Chapman learned that Lennon was planning to release Double Fantasy - his first album in five years - his mind was made up. He wanted to fly to New York City and shoot the icon of pop culture.
Chapman quit his job and bought a .38 caliber revolver from a gun shop in Honolulu. He got himself a one-way ticket to New York, said goodbye to his wife, and reached the Big apple on October 30, 1980. He often passed the Dakota Building to ask the bouncers about John Lennon's whereabouts. Vain. The Dakota staff were used to fans asking such questions and generally refused to divulge any information about the various celebrities who were in the building.
Chapman had brought his revolver to New York. When he arrived, he wanted to buy the balls that went with it. He now learned that only residents of New York State could legally purchase bullets there. Chapman flew to his old home Georgia for the weekend, where his old friend Dana Reeves - now a sheriff's deputy - was supposed to help him get what he needed. He told Reeves that he didn't feel safe in New York and therefore needed hollow-nosed bullets, which have been known to cause immense damage to their target.
Equipped with the desired ammunition, Chapman returned to New York. However, after all this time, Chapman's resolve had diminished. He later claimed that he had some kind of religious experience that convinced him that his plan was wrong. He called his wife and told her for the first time what he was up to. Gloria Abe was afraid of Chapman's confession. However, she did not call the police, but simply begged her husband to return to Hawaii. He did so on November 12, 1980. Chapman's change of heart didn't last long. His strange behavior continued, and on December 5, 1980, he traveled again to New York. This time without returning to his wife.
The second try
On his second trip to New York, Chapman checked into a hostel for financial reasons. However, he did not feel comfortable there and moved to the Sheraton Hotel on December 7th. He went on daily trips to the Dakota Building, where he befriended several other John Lennon fans. Among them was an amateur photographer from New Jersey named Paul Goresh, who was also regularly in front of the building and was known to the Lennons. Goresh chatted with Chapman and later commented on how little Chapman seemed to know about John Lennon and the Beatles, despite claiming to be an avid fan.
Chapman attended the Dakota regularly for the next two days. Each time he hoped to meet Lennon and commit his crime.
December 8, 1980
On the morning of December 8th, Mark Chapman dressed warmly. Before leaving his room, he carefully arranged some of his most valuable items on a table. This included a copy of the New Testament in which he had written the name Holden Caulfield and the name Lennon after the words "Gospel According to John". He arranged the items for maximum effect as he expected the police to search the room after his arrest.
After leaving the hotel, he bought a new copy of The Catcher in the Rye and wrote the words "This is my statement" on the front page. Chapman's plan had been not to tell the police after the crime, but simply to give them a copy of the book to explain his actions.
Chapman carried the book and a copy of Double Fantasy with him and then made his way to the Dakota to chat with Paul Goresh. The Lennon employee Helen Seaman passed them a little later with Sean Lennon, the then five-year-old son of the ex-Beatle. Goresh introduced them to Chapman as a fan who had come all the way here from Hawaii. Chapman seemed delighted and raved about how cute the boy was.
John Lennon himself, meanwhile, had a busy day at the Dakota. After posing with Yoko Ono for ROLLING STONE photographer Annie Leibovitz, he had his hair cut and gave Dave Sholin the last interview of his life.
One last time in the studio
Around 5 p.m., Lennon noticed that he was running late to go to the studio to record. Yoko Ono's new single "Walking On Thin Ice" had to be completed. Sholin offered the Lennons a ride in his limousine as their own car had not yet arrived. On leaving the Dakota, Lennon was received by Paul Goresh, who introduced him to Chapman. Chapman gave Lennon his copy of "Double Fantasy" for him to sign. Goresh captured the moment with his camera - the last photo of John Lennon shows him with his future killer.
It's unclear why Chapman didn't take this opportunity to kill Lennon. He later recalled having an internal battle. However, his obsession with murdering the musician did not subside. Despite Chapman's internal misgivings, the urge to shoot the singer was too overwhelming. He waited outside the building for John Lennon to return long after most of the other fans had left.
The limousine with John Lennon and Yoko Ono arrived back at the Dakota around 10:50 p.m. Yoko left the vehicle first, followed by John. Chapman greeted Ono with a simple hello as she passed him. Then happened to Lennon. Chapman stepped into the driveway of the Dakota, knelt, and fired two shots into John Lennon's back. Lennon fell to the ground. Chapman pulled the trigger three more times. Two bullets landed in Lennon's shoulder and the third missed.
Lennon managed to run into the lobby of the Dakota, where he eventually collapsed. Yoko Ono followed him inside and panicked. The Dakota night watchman thought the event was a joke until he saw the blood flow from Lennon's mouth and chest. He called 911 immediately and covered Lennon with his uniform.
When the police arrived, they found Chapman sitting under the lantern of the gate. He read calmly in “The Catcher in the Rye”. The killer made no attempt to escape and repeatedly apologized to the officers for the problems he caused. They immediately arrested Chapman and put him in one of their patrol cars. The officers were unaware that the victim was the famous John Lennon. Rather, they found that his wounds were too serious to wait for an ambulance. They put Lennon in the back seat of one of their patrol cars and drove him to the emergency room at Roosevelt Hospital. Lennon was still alive but could barely answer the policemen's questions.
John Lennon is dead
The hospital was informed of Lennon's arrival, and a team of chaplains was appointed. They tried everything possible to save his life - to no avail. Two of the bullets had pierced his lungs while a third hit his shoulder. It had ricocheted off his shoulder, damaged the aorta and cut into his windpipe.
John Lennon died of massive internal bleeding at 11:07 pm on the night of December 8th.
News of Lennon's death spread quickly after sports reporter Howard Cosell announced the tragedy on television in the middle of a football game. Soon after, fans from all over the city came to the Dakota to offer devotion to the icon who was killed. When the news spread across the world, the public was shocked.
Mark David Chapman's trial was short as he pleaded guilty to the second degree of murder. He claimed that God asked him to.When asked if he would like to make a final statement when he was sentenced, Chapman stood up and read a passage from The Catcher in the Rye. He was sentenced to 20 years to life imprisonment.
Last August he failed with his tenth petition for clemency. In two years, Chapman will be able to submit the next application. The parole board's explanatory memorandum said that a release would be "incompatible with the welfare and security of society and would devalue the serious crime to the point of undermining respect for the law".
Chapman later gave the longing for fame as a motif. The parole board ruled that the murder was a "callous disregard for the sanctity of human life and the pain and suffering of others." It also cannot be ruled out that Chapman himself could be killed after his release - again by someone who claims to be known by his murder . Yoko Ono had turned to the parole committee several times in the past and spoke out against the release: she endangered her safety and that of her son Sean.
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