The ‘other’ day the music died: Mourning John Lennon

Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one. — “Imagine”

By Marsha Sutton


I remember distinctly where I was when I heard about it. I was living with my now-husband in a small apartment in La Jolla, and a friend had been over for dinner. Thirty minutes after she left, upon her return home (no cell phones in 1980), she called to tell us she had just heard the news on the radio: John Lennon had been shot and killed.

It was December 8, 1980 – 30 years ago. It’s seared in my memory like it was yesterday.

The incomprehensible sadness that engulfed the world back then is evoked with every photograph, song and image of him today.

I’ve been told that I’m often given to hyperbole, but in this case there are no superlatives great enough to adequately describe the impact this musical and poetic genius had on the world. His songs shaped an entire generation – and continue to exert their influence on the children that came after. Finding an American teenager today who’s not heard of John Lennon is nearly impossible.

Lennon would have been 70 years old. What music has the world been deprived of these last three decades? How would he have grown and changed? How would he have reacted to fellow Beatle George Harrison’s death from cancer in 2001? What would he think of iTunes?

To say he was revered is an understatement. Hundreds of thousands of anguished mourners across the globe grieved his death in the aftermath of the tragedy, and many continue to honor him by marking the anniversary of his assassination with each passing year. If anything, he may be bigger in death even than he was in real life.

Thirty years later, the Lennon Legend Lives. And 30 years later, we still mourn.

So, on Dec. 8, let’s remember John Lennon and offer a silent moment of profound gratitude to this gifted songwriter for the years he gave us. He changed music – our lives and our world – forever.

“And we all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun.” — John Lennon, “Instant Karma”