The forty-second anniversary of John Lennon’s death is approaching. The former member of the Beatles was shot and killed outside his apartment complex, The Dakota, in New York City, on December 8, 1980. He was assassinated by mad fan Mark Chapman. Before his death, he spoke with his wife, Yoko Ono, about what he wanted to do that evening.
Lennon and Ono spent the day together. Famous photographer Annie Leibovitz attended their apartment that day to shoot them for the cover of Rolling Stone. Afterwards, Lennon gave what would be his final interview for RKO Radio. Shortly thereafter, the pair went on to mix Ono’s song, Walking on Thin Ice, which featured Lennon on lead guitar, at the Record Plant.
Lennon and Ono returned to the Dakota around 10:50 pm that evening, where the Imagine singer was attacked and killed.
In 2007, Ono opened up about Lennon’s last words to her. She recalled the harrowing evening while appearing on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs. Ono recalled asking Lennon, “Shall we go and have dinner before we go home?”
Lennon responded with a thoughtful comment about his son, Sean Ono Lennon.
Sean recalls: “I didn’t find out until a few days later. I remember it really clearly, somebody said my mom wanted to talk to me. I had to go into the bedroom, and my mom was in bed.”
He noted that Ono had been in “bed for several days” – evidently overcome with grief about witnessing first-hand the death of her loved ones.
“I remember kind of glancing at a headline in a newspaper,” Sean continued. “I could hardly read; I really didn’t know what that meant.”
In the end, Ono told him, “Your father died.” He continued, “She said it really bluntly, like, ‘He was killed.'” I really remember wanting to be mature about it for some reason, and I said, “Don’t worry mom, you’re still young. You’re going to find someone.” That was intense, when I think about it. But that’s what I said. You’ll check it out. And she said, “Well, I’m glad you feel that way about it.” Then she ran to my bedroom, because I didn’t want to see me. Crying. I didn’t want to admit it was hard.”
Lennon did not have a funeral. Instead, Ono conducted a private cremation with immediate family and friends. His ashes were scattered in Central Park, New York, in view of the apartment they shared. Later, the Strawberry Fields Monument was placed there.
On December 14, 1980, Ono held a vigil for Lennon in Central Park. Then she maintained ten minutes of silence for the singer.