December 8, 2010 / 8:58 PM / 8 years ago

New York fans recall Lennon 30 years after murder

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Crowds gathered around the “Imagine” mosaic in Central Park on the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death on Wednesday, sharing his music and recalling when they first heard the former Beatle was shot.

Mementos and flowers left by fans lay around the Imagine mosaic in the Strawberry Fields section of Central Park on the 30th anniversary of the death of former Beatle John Lennon in New York, December 8, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Lennon was 40 when he was murdered outside his New York apartment on December 8, 1980. His killer, Mark David Chapman, is serving a prison sentence of 20 years to life.

“It came over the radio and me Mum just stopped what she was doing and burst into tears,” said Jan Huntley, a Liverpool native on her honeymoon in New York. She said she was 8 years old and getting ready for school when they heard the news.

Around the “Imagine” mosaic in Strawberry Fields, a memorial to Lennon in Central Park, fans huddled in the cold, playing guitars and singing Beatles’ songs.

“I love what he stood for. All he wanted in his life was peace,” said Ranada Havard, a tourist from Louisiana. “All he wanted was to love his wife, love his children. But he lost it. People are still remembering 30 years later. It’s great.”

Even those who weren’t born when Lennon died said they felt compelled to visit Strawberry Fields, across the street from Lennon’s apartment building, to express their grief.

“I’ve been a Beatles fan all my life. I was raised on them,” said 17-year-old Russell Schwartz of Farmingdale, New York. “Honestly, on the 30th anniversary, I couldn’t miss the chance to honor a legend.”

Lennon remains very much alive in the hearts of his fans, including the nearly 1.3 million visitors who expressed support on his Facebook page.

Oddly enough, one of Lennon’s final comments was that he never wanted to be a “dead hero,” according to a newly published interview in Rolling Stone.

Tapes of what may be Lennon’s final interview, conducted just three days before his murder, were discovered recently when journalist Jonathan Cott was cleaning his apartment. In the interview, Lennon denounced fans who criticized him during his five-year break from music.

“What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean,” Lennon said. “I’m not interested in being a dead fucking hero ... so forget ‘em, forget ‘em.”

In remembrance of her husband, Yoko Ono used Twitter to share a more domestic picture, recalling a debate they had over the proper way to make tea.

“‘Yoko, Yoko, you’re supposed to first put the tea bags in, and then the hot water,’” Ono recalled in the account.

He later reversed his instructions, and “we both cracked up. That was in 1980. Neither of us knew that it was to be the last year of our life together,” Ono wrote.

Their son, Sean, now a musician, also used Twitter to thank people remembering his father.

“Thank you for all the kind words. Let’s all just pray for peace on earth. That’s what he cared about most. Love, S.”

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