Every fan of The Beatles will always remember where they were when the news broke that John Lennon had been murdered. The Imagine singer was shot by a crazed fan outside his home, The Dakota apartments, in New York City on December 8, 1980. The day before, Sunday, December 7 1980, Lennon agreed to a magazine cover story.
Legendary photographer Ian Wright spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk earlier this year to discuss the reopening of The Stockton Globe Theatre.
During the conversation, he recalled growing up with the members of The Beatles and taking their photos before they had become world-famous at venues such as The Globe.
Wright had a strong friendship with the band, but had a particular companionship with Lennon. He recalled the singer making a comment about him riding around on his bike as a youngster.
In 1980 Wright was working as a photojournalist for The Times and The Sunday Times in New York. His editor at the time knew he had a connection with Lennon, so asked him to reach out to the star.
Wright was tasked with asking Lennon to do a 10/12 page colour cover story for the magazine, but he didn’t expect what happened next.
Wright explained: “So, I was going out of town that weekend. I sent a courier round to The Dakota building. It just said: “John Lennon, you remember me? Wrighty, the kid on the bike!” The telegram explained to Lennon how Wright wanted to take his photo for the magazine article. Wright went on: “I got back on the Sunday [7th December], but I didn’t go back into the office until Tuesday morning – and by this time he had been murdered [on Monday].” The photographer returned to the office to find a written message from Lennon had been delivered Sunday afternoon.
Wright recalled: “I took the written transcription, and I just went down the corridor, I went to the gent’s bog and I cried my bl***y eyes out.
“I lost a good mate. He never forgot the kid on the bike.”
After Lennon was shot outside his home he was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital. When he arrived he was not breathing and had no pulse.
He was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:15pm on December 8, 1980.
Lennon’s death sent shockwaves around the world. After the news was announced, Lennon’s widow Yoko submitted a statement telling of a vigil for the late star.
The statement read: “There is no funeral for John. Later in the week, we will set the time for a silent vigil to pray for his soul. We invite you to participate from wherever you are at the time … John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him. Love. Yoko and Sean.”
George Harrison also released a statement: “After all we went through together, I had and still have great love and respect for him. I am shocked and stunned. To rob a life is the ultimate robbery in life. The perpetual encroachment on other people’s space is taken to the limit with the use of a gun. It is an outrage that people can take other people’s lives when they obviously haven’t got their own lives in order.”
Lennon’s 1981 album Double Fantasy went on to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.