The music world was numbed when the news broke that former Beatle John Lennon had been shot and killed outside his New York home in December 1980.
Mark Chapman fired five bullets at Lennon from a range of three yards as he was returning to his apartment in the Dakota Building on Central Park.
It was 10.50pm on Monday December 8th and the former Beatle had just finished a recording session with his wife Yoko Ono across town.
One bullet missed and hit a window, but four struck Lennon in the back. Surgeons battled to save him at the Roosevelt Hospital on West 59th Street, but the task was hopeless.
Lennon was pronounced dead at 11.15pm, just as the Beatles’ song All My Loving was playing over the hospital’s sound system.
The outpouring of grief that followed was immense. Vigils were held in Liverpool and London while distraught fans left tributes at the Dakota Building.
On Sunday December 14th, millions around the world paused for a 10-minute silence to remember the fallen Beatle. More than 30,000 gathered in Liverpool – Lime Street was blocked – and around 225,000 congregated in New York’s Central Park.
On January 18th 1981, Ono published a full-page letter entitled ‘In Gratitude’ in the New York Times and Washington Post thanking everyone who mourned her husband’s passing.
Later that year, Ono released the song she and Lennon had been working on at the time of his murder as a single. It was called, almost prophetically, Walking on Ice.
Lennon’s final album Double Fantasy, released three weeks before his death, achieved worldwide success after an initial poor reception. It was named Album of the Year at the 1981 Grammy Awards.
Chapman, an unemployed resident of Hawaii, pleaded guilty to murdering Lennon and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1981. He remains in Upstate New York prison having been denied parole ten times over.
Lennon’s last years have been captured in a series of photos from the Liverpool Echo archive. His final concert was at Madison Square Garden in New York in August 1972.
He took to the stage with American group Elephant’s Memory, also known as the Plastic Ono Band, to raise money for the Willowbrook State School.
Lennon’s last live performance with the Beatles was the spontaneous rooftop concert at the Apple building in Savile Row, London, on Thursday January 30th 1969.
Office workers on their lunch break craned out of their windows as the Beatles played for 42 minutes before the Police told them to turn down the volume. Part of the impromptu gig was filmed for the movie Let It Be.
Billy Preston was brought in by George Harrison to play keyboards as the Beatles had planned to record a live session – the only problem was where.
Ringo Starr suggested the rooftop after rejecting the Palladium or the Sahara as they would have to take ‘all their stuff’ with them!
The volume was strictly more muted when Lennon and Ono staged their famous week-long bed-in for peace at the Amsterdam Hilton in March 1969. The couple were officially on honeymoon in the presidential suite.
Placards were created with the slogans Hair Peace and Bed Piece as the couple, in pajamas, entertained the world’s press.
In July 1971, Lennon was photographed with Ono in London to launch the second edition of her conceptual art book Grapefruit.