music Retrospectives

John Lennon 1940-1980

John Lennon died thirty years ago yesterday. He was as old then as I am now.

It would have been the following day, thirty years ago today, when the news broke in Australia. I remember getting home from school and switching the television onto channel 9, probably to watch Skippy or The Curiosity Show. A news flash came on.

When I spoke to my mum at work a little while later on the phone, I don’t think she believed it.

Who else remembers where they were?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

12 replies on “John Lennon 1940-1980”

Hm, I remember it happening but it’s not one of those things where I remember where I was and exactly what I was doing.

I remember Princess Di, I was visiting at my Uncle’s place in Perth. We heard on the news she’d been in an accident and we were all saying “woudln’t it be terrible if she died”. Not long after we got the confirmation.

September 11, I was watching “The West Wing” like many others probably were. We had Foxtel at the time and flicked around all the news Channels, unable to believe what we were seeing. We watched it til 3AM our time.

The other one that sticks is the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. I woke up and my Mum came in and said “The Space Shuttle Exploded”. I remember watching that footage over and over again.

I remember clearly. I’d not long finished my HSC exams. It was called HSC in Victoria back then, and the exams took place much later than they do these days. They started in mid November and my last exam was in early December.

I’d been to a job interview that morning, then to a movie in the afternoon, and I was travelling home on the train. It was a hot day, I recall. The person sitting opposite me was reading The Herald, and the front page had a big screaming headline “John Lennon shot”. I remember thinking, gee, I hope he’s OK. For some bizarre reason it didn’t occur to me that “shot” meant “shot dead”. It wasn’t until I got home and saw the TV news that I learned the full story.

I was only 7 months old when Lennon was killed, so I don’t remember what I was doing- probably defecating in my nappies! There was a great documentary about Lennon’s death on Fox News on Saturday afternoon, which interviewed all the people involved in trying to save him.

It’s hard to imagine (pun not intended) Lennon was only 40 when he died, but you just don’t imagine him to be an old man today, just like Elvis, Marylin Monroe, and many others who died young. I’ve often believed it was their destiny- because history will forever remember them as they were originally known.

Speaking of the Curiosity Show- God I miss that! One of my favourite shows as a kid- having eventually studied physics and maths, I think Deane Hutton inspired me a lot with his gadgets and gizmos, and just with their explanations. I think the strength of that show was that it didn’t talk down to kids like so many similar shows today, but it spoke to you on the level!

As for Andrew V, I was approaching 16 months of age when John Lennon was killed. I guess we were the first generation to grow up with him not being around all along!!

Likewise I also used to watch the Curiosity Show (cut down to 30 minute episodes at that time) when I was in primary school with Deane Hutton doing the ‘cool’ stuff and Rob Morrison (complet with Mensland diamond-pattern jumper) doing the more hardcore stuff

Some replies from Facebook and Twitter on this (apart from those too young to remember!):

Ian: I was woken up for college by a radio-alarm clock which I can still see in my mind’s eye

Richard: I heard at school. I’m man enough to admit in public I cried. I was a big Beatles fan before I was 5.

Martin: I remember it well – I was watching a test match.

Samantha: It was a hot day, I walked home from school to find my Mum very upset, don’t think I was fussed one way or another at the time, never been a Beatles fan – yeuch music ya Mum and Dad likes – no way!

I remember – i was sitting in the front seat of our blue Combi Van VW, and heard it on the radio. I recal my Dad being quite shaken by the news.

An earlier memory is seeing the newspaper headlines in 1977: “The King is Dead”. As a seven year-old, I didn’t make the connection with Elvis, rather I thought of Kings and Queens from story books and movies. The KING is dead! What did that mean for our country? Was there a prince who would take on the role??

It was my first year of high school and I remember the teachers going into a mourning meltdown. As it was right near the end of the school year. They had put up the newspaper front page of the Sun …from memory and it stayed up most of the next year as well.

I don’t remember John Lennon but I remember Princess Di because I was at the opening of the Sydney tram when I heard the news.

Having been to the Dakota Building on Central Park West in NYC, I couldn’t help but lament his choice to live in such a public place. Back in Dec 1980, there was incessant fabulous Beatles footage on TV for about a week. That was great, but small consolation in the scheme of things.

Unlike many others, I love the posthumous overdubbing by the remaining Beatles of his demo Free As A Bird from the Beatles Anthology (1995). It’s a sensational Beatles song.

Being that I’m 12 years older than Dan I remember that night well. Like millions of others in the US was watching the Monday night NFL game on ABC. The news broke towards the end of the game. It hit me hard.

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