Wednesday, December 8, 2010

30 Years Ago Today - A Tribute To John Lennon

It was thirty years ago today and it seems just like yesterday. I was working the evening shift at WEMM in Huntington, WV and my girlfriend at the time who was studying in the break room came running into the control room to tell me that the bells on the UPI teletype were dinging like crazy.

Knowing that the ten bells meant news of great importance, I rushed back and pulled the wire copy. It read “Former Beatle John Lennon was shot outside of The Dakota and that he had been rushed to a nearby hospital.”

It was a little before 11 PM and the top of the hour news covered the story but had no additional details. About 20 minutes later, the teletype sounded ten bells again accompanied by the sad news that John Lennon had died.

I have every teletype story about his death from that evening as well as UPI Audio’s 30 minute tribute to Lennon that they issued at about 2 AM the next morning; unfortunately, these are now in storage in preparation for moving into new quarters. I have them, but I can’t get to them easily to share online.

Much like there was a run on Elvis records when he died three years earlier, I headed to the National Record Mart in Huntington the next morning and picked up two albums by Lennon and two by The Beatles that I didn’t already have. That’s all I could afford on such short notice, but I wanted to get them while I could.

In memory of the most outspoken of the Fab Four, I have picked several of John’s more poignant compositions: “In My Life,” “Imagine,” “Julia,” and “Because.”

In My Life

Although I featured this song from “Rubber Soul” back in February, I would be remiss not to include it here. It’s my from favorite Beatles' album – both the US and UK configurations (which are different) are excellent collections of songs by the world’s most popular band.


No doubt considered John’s most famous song and the only single release in this mix of songs. In 1971, It was a number one record in the UK, Canada, and Australia. In the US, it peaked at #3. It was re-released in 1975 in the UK with his “Shaved Fish” compilation (by the way, I have one in green vinyl from the UK). The second release charted at #6. It is a song that has transcended its own popularity as an icon in the religion of music.


A solo performance by John from the “White Album” that was written about his mother, Julia Lennon, who was killed by a drunk driver when John was 17. The song features John on acoustic guitar and double tracked vocals. Donovan is credited with teaching John to finger pick his guitar. It’s believable; because according to Donovan, Mr. Leitch created electric folk, psychedelia, the hippie movement, and even the color purple.


John wrote this song that appeared on the Beatles “Abbey Road” LP after hearing Yoko Ono play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” He was lying on the sofa and asked her if she could play the chord progression in reverse. She did and he wrote “Because” to this backwards progression. George Harrison is playing a Moog synthesizer – much better than he did on his solo album “Electronic Sound.” The harmonies are John, Paul, and George that were triple tracked to give the appearance of nine men singing.

Rest in Peace John – the world misses your creativity.

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