“I am going into an unknown future, but I’m still all here,
and still while there’s life, there’s hope.”
John Lennon, December 8, 1980
I was driving my taxi in Manhattan on that beautifully warm Monday evening of December 8, 1980. At around 10 pm, I was traveling without any passengers, going north on Central Park West, when I made a slow left turn on to 72nd Street.
When I was driving my taxi in the neighborhood of the Dakota and without passengers, I would often go by it very slowly, on the slight chance that I may see John.
As soon as I made the slow left turn on to 72nd Street, now looking towards the front of the Dakota, my instinct sensed something was wrong. So, I slowed down to a crawl while passing in front.
I first noticed the outside doorman Jose Perdomo, which somehow took the media six plus years to finally name correctly, who was standing on the left side of the archway. He was just outside of the doorman enclosure.
Then, I looked directly at this other man, and right away sensed that he was lurking in the darkness. He was standing alone on the sidewalk, on the right side of the archway. My intuition told me something was terribly wrong, and I very nearly stopped my taxi. The next day this man was identified as Mark David Chapman.
About an hour after I passed by the Dakota, I was still driving my taxi in Manhattan while listening, as always, to Vince “Vinny” Scelsa on WNEW-FM 102.7, when he suddenly announced John Lennon had been shot. A short time later, while trying to hold back tears, he announced the death of John Lennon.
John Lennon Assassination Announced By Vince Scelsa On WNEW-FM December 8, 1980.
“Yes, I am,” when asked if he was John Lennon.
The last words of John Lennon
December 8, 1980 – The Last Photos Of John Lennon
When Vince Scelsa broke this unbelievably horrible news of John Lennon’s death, I was with a woman passenger in my taxi. I was on East End Avenue, the same street where I was born, in Doctor’s Hospital. As soon as my passenger heard the news, she immediately broke out crying. Moments later, there were tears in my eyes, and they quickly and profusely began rolling down my checks.
At first I ineffectively tried to compose myself, which I found impossible to do, but eventually did, for I was now driving on the FDR Drive. I turned my off duty light on, and finished driving my passenger to her home in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, which was one block away from where my paternal Grandmother lived. I dropped her off, waited until she was safely inside of her home, and then headed straight to the Dakota.
It was about 11:45 pm when I arrived, and there was already a group of one hundred or so people gathered. I double-parked my Peugeot 504 taxi just about twenty feet West of the archway, in front of the Dakota, on the North side on 72nd Street.
I opened the sunroof of my taxi and placed a portable speaker on the roof so people could hear WNEW-FM live. Soon dozens, then hundreds, then thousands, of people had journeyed from every direction and gathered outside of the Dakota. Throughout that solemn night, thousands of fans arrived, mourned, and left.
I know about these thousands of people coming to pay their respects, pray, and grieve the tragic loss of John Lennon in the middle of the night, because I stayed in front of the Dakota for the next nine hours. When I finally left at 8:45 am, there were thousands of people gathered to say goodbye to John. Yes, I stayed for exactly nine hours, longer than anyone else, to honor John, and also because I knew he loved the number nine.
It was beyond heartbreakingly sad for me to witness, but my little voice told my to stay there and bare witness to this mourning and outpouring of love for John.
At any one time during the night, there were dozens of grown men and women openly weeping as if they had just lost a family member to a violent death. I noticed that this happened as soon as they reached the front of the Dakota. They couldn’t hold their sorrow and grief in any longer, and would burst into tears, as did I, when I first arrived.
By the time I left at 8:45 am the crowd in front of the Dakota had swelled to a couple of thousand paying tribute to John, and the number of people openly crying had increased commensurately.
I wasn’t looking to get interviewed, but some media interviewed me, and surprisingly my assassination statements were included in a Newsday article, which I gave to a really sweet and teary-eyed woman reporter. I still have a copy of that newspaper.
There was much somber inner reflection, and then around 2 am, magically the crowd started to sing. It was a spontaneous, and a truly beautiful and moving tribute to John. And it continued, the crowd would sing Imagine, Give Peace A Chance, If I Fell, and other John Lennon songs. Much of the initial singing would be started by what was being played on the radio station, WNEW-FM 102.7, later from those who brought cassette-playing boomboxes with them.
This reason why these people came to the Dakota in the middle of the night from all over New York City and well beyond, was their love for John Lennon, for his incredibly large body of magnificent music, and for his relentless pursuit of world peace.
John Lennon and The Beatles (Almost 400 Videos)
Playlist by Mark R. Elsis
People would talk with one another, hug each other, cry together, there was a deeply heartfelt camaraderie of which I have never seen before, or since, by total strangers. It was humanity at its incomparable best, for everyone I met and saw there were best friends, consoling one another, while sharing our collective anguish that fateful night.
Nearly everyone who was born before 1976 can tell you exactly where he or she was when they first heard the horrific news of John Lennon’s assassination. This was similar to the circumstance with people born before 1959, as I was on, January 8, 1958, when they learned of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. They were both historic moments, which indelibly stayed in your memory, for it was the end of an era.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy Timeline (423 Pages with 1,283 Hotlinks)
The Most Comprehensive Timeline On John Fitzgerald Kennedy
by Mark R. Elsis
This was the reason why throughout that excruciatingly painful night I saw grown men and women openly weeping. The dream of peace and love was over, it had been stolen from us once again through an assassination that was perpetrated by demonic forces.
These nine harrowing and unforgettable hours I spent in front of the Dakota were the catalysts that transformed my life. When I first arrived, after I double-parked my taxi, I walked over and knelt in front of the large iron gates that are at the entrance to the Dakota and solemnly prayed. As I was kneeling there in mournful prayer with tears pouring from my eyes, a police captain came up to me and presumptuously told me to get up and move along, I looked up at him rather contemptuously, and didn’t. Immediately after this, still kneeling, I looked upon John Lennon’s newly spilled blood; and as I did, I swore to myself that I would do everything I possibly could to enlighten humanity, and to make our world more peaceful and loving for future generations.
And every day for the last forty-two years, I have been trying my best to do just that.
“By morning, the gates of the Dakota looked like the wall of a Mexican church, or an instant Lourdes, covered with a collage of flowers, messages, photographs, drawings. The crowd had been brought together as if to some new Holy Place, expressing a deep primitive need to mourn. The mourners were not kids, either. I saw men in raincoats come by carrying briefcases, sealed into lives of business and marriage, the sixties part of some golden adolescence, and one at a time, they stood there on the corner, out of the vision of the TV cameras, and, like the people of the night before, wept openly while Beatles music played from dozens of radios. The music seemed elegiac now, all those songs that never went away and probably never will. But now one thing was absolutely certain: John Lennon was dead, and so were the Beatles. They would never come back now. They would never fill a stadium again, never journey all the way back to the years when they changed the English-speaking world and the rest of the world that didn’t know the meaning of Yeh, yeh, yeh.”
I still miss you John Lennon, the greatest singer-songwriter and the most influential political artist of the twentieth century.
This article is an excerpt from: The Beatles, John Lennon And December 8, 1980
Once upon a time, I thought this labor of love was complete at well over 100 pages.
But I want to make it the best possible, so I still have work to do on it.
I will publish it sometime soon, either on October 9th or December 8th.
Hopefully, that will be in 2024.
When published, this will be the title and URL:
The Beatles, John Lennon And December 8, 1980
The Most Comprehensive Timeline On The Beatles And John Lennon
by Mark R. Elsis
“It matters not, who you love,
where you love, why you love,
when you love, or how you love,
it matters only that you love.”
Strawberry Fields: Keeping The Spirit Of John Lennon Alive (Film) (1:22:08)
Producer | Writer | Director: Mark R. Elsis
Featuring: Crying For John Lennon, by Hargo, Produced by Phil Spector
Released On DVD: April 9, 2009
Released Online: April 1, 2020
Strawberry Fields: Keeping The Spirit Of John Lennon Alive – Trailer (5:05)
Featuring: Crying For John Lennon, by Hargo, Produced by Phil Spector
(To my knowledge, this peace-loving Trailer which had gone viral with 424,000 views in two months, was the first video ever to be censored by YouTube.com, which shadow-banned it two months after its release on January 13, 2009.)
Strawberry Fields – Phil Spector On John Lennon’s Assassination (1:24)
John Lennon Archive
The Beatles Archive
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Published December 8, 2022
Love Is The Answer
Mark R. Elsis