Twenty years ago tonight, John Lennon was shot to death as he was about to enter his apartment building, returning late from the recording studio.
At the time, I was working as a disc jockey at a radio station in Johnson City, Tennessee, called WQUT. It was one of the premier Rock and Roll Stations in the Mid-South. I’ll never forget that night while I was on the air, and a news bulletin came over the wire with the shocking revelation that one of my heroes had been senselessly shot and was on his way to Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.
I immediately announced the disaster, threw on a copy of the White Album and stayed glued to the news wire, awaiting further developments as the LP tracked.
The bells rang in the teletype—always preceding delivery of a priority bulletin—and the tragic revelation that John Lennon was dead spewed forth ironically as the tune: “Happiness is a Warm Gun” started playing over the monitor.
To this day, I remember the bewilderment and feelings of emptiness I experienced at that very moment.
There are events such as the assassination of John Kennedy, the first landing on the moon and the resignation of Richard Nixon that are indelibly marked in my memory so as to invoke remembrance of what I was doing at the time as vivid as if they happened yesterday. John Lennon’s assassination is certainly among them.
If you were old enough to recall this night, twenty years ago, tell us about it.
Editor’s Note: the following was added on 8th December 2014: