In spite of all of the great rock and metal happenings, the kick ass albums from the likes of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and AC/DC to name just a tiny few, triumphant events like the first ever Donington Festival and even tragic departures in the form of John Bonham and Bon Scott; all of them were over shadowed by an event that not only shocked the music world but the world in general, the murder of John Lennon. Like other infamous tragedies such as Pearl Harbour, the assassination of JFK and 911, many people can remember exactly where they were when they first heard the news that John Lennon and been shot and killed. Personally, I was on the USS Saipan and we had just returned through the Suez Canal and was on our way to Italy when the ship news service told us of the murder. Naturally, we were all shocked and some of my comrades in arms thought it was a joke. However, when we realised the truth, there was much mourning and sympathy, even from those who would have not listened to Lennon’s music and it caused what had been a landmark year in music to end on a tearful note.
John Lennon’s murder was as unnecessary as it was tragic. If it had been any ordinary Joe or Josephine, I would still say that the way in which he was shot down was completely wrong. Even after all these years, I still fail to see any reasoning behind Mark Chapman’s actions other than he simply wanted his fifteen minutes. Now, I am one of the biggest hippy liberals going but I have always maintained that if anyone callously and maliciously takes the life of another human being, then they should forfeit their own. Originally, Chapman was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison and I do feel a slight touch of relief after reading that he has been denied parole seven times.
I know I’m once again preaching to the choir and stating the obvious, but influence that John Lennon and The Beatles had on music, even heavy metal, lives on over thirty years after his death. For proof, listen to the Beatles song “Helter Skelter” and then look up the hard rock and metal bands who have recorded covers of said song. I know of at least one metal artist whose album I’ll be visiting in the tour of 1981 had a song in tribute to Lennon. I’m sure I’ll find others and more will re-emerge from the wastelands of my distant memories. So, in conclusion, as this coming Sunday marks the thirty-third anniversary of the tragedy, take a moment to remember this superstar. But also, as I close the door on the rock and metal of 1980, also remember the great musical triumphs from the year too. I’m not a psychic, but I think that’s what John would have wanted us to do.
Next post: Tribute to Blues Guitarists
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