Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
John Lennon's revolutionary music and eloquent messages of peace helped define the generations growing up in the 1960s and '70s. For many, his murder at the hand of a deranged fan closed the curtain on an era of youth and idealism. Mark David Chapman pleaded guilty to the murder and is incarcerated in Attica Correctional Facility in New York. An excerpt from The Post of Dec. 9, 1980:
By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
John Lennon, a former member of the Beatles, the rock group that transformed popular music in the 1960s, was shot and killed last night outside his luxury apartment house in Manhattan.
The 40-year-old British-born musician and composer was shot several times at close range a few minutes before 11 p.m. as he entered the building at 72nd and Central Park West.
Lennon, bleeding profusely, was rushed in a police car to Roosevelt Hospital, about a half mile away. Although desperate efforts were made to save him, a doctor there said he was dead on arrival.
Police quickly took into custody a suspect they described as a "local screwball." No motive for the shooting was immediately apparent.
As news of the shooting spread, several hundred people, many with tears in their eyes, gathered outside the building where Lennon had lived quietly and almost reclusively in recent years with his wife, Yoko Ono, and their 5-year-old son, Sean.
Lennon, one of the most successful and popular composers of all time, had just released a new album, "Double Fantasy," which he made with his wife and which was aimed at making a comeback for the couple.
Before the Beatles broke up at the end of the 1960s, the quartet appeared in movies, sold more than 250 million records and was credited with creating the music that indelibly marked the generation.
A few minutes before 11 last night, according to the early accounts of police and passersby, Lennon and his wife emerged from a limousine and walked toward the doorway of their century-old building.
Near the iron-gated entrance, a man called to Lennon by name, a police lieutenant said.
Lennon turned and four shots rang out.
Ono screamed "Help me!" according to a passerby.
Someone reportedly asked the gunman if he knew what he had done.
"I just shot John Lennon," the man replied.
Lennon had no last words, police said. ...
In Washington last night, the news of Lennon's death broadcast by radio and television stations left longtime Beatle fans in shock and dismay.
Telephone lines at local broadcast outlets were tied up for hours; switchboards at The Washington Post were busy with callers asking for details.
"Tell me it's not true," University of Maryland sophomore Marshall Goldman begged a reporter. When told it was, he paused and then said, "I just want to go outside and scream. I don't believe it."
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