Archive for December, 2020

Tuesday December 9th 1980.

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020


An addendum.

The below was originally written in December 2005,
not long after I had visited New York. It was then
twenty five years since Johns passing, now, here we
are, forty years since the nightmare of 1980. Very
little has changed about how I feel, and my perspective
on what happened. I’m still no closer to resolving, or
coming to terms with that loss.

Tho I have suffered many awful losses in the years since 1980,
somehow John’s loss hurts greater than most others. It truly
took the shine off the world, showed us that something as joyous,
enriching and challenging as an artist, performer and poet, can be
silenced by violence. Violence that could be minimized if not for
humanities greed and arrogance. It was a dirty, senseless act, and it
tarnished the hopes, and innocence, of countless millions of people.
I think it struck me as especially cruel, as it was Johns music, along
with the other Beatles, that kept me afloat, gave me an escape, from a
very troubled childhood.

That is why, John’s is the one death I cannot reconcile, because it
was so senseless.

With time comes a greater sense of poignancy. The Annie
Leibovitz photos from that day illustrate this most
powerfully. Gazing at the photo of John sitting in the
window, I was recently struck that the sun had set, it
was now dusk. John would never see daylight again, that
hit me like a punch to the stomach.

What an unimaginable loss. I’m forever thankful for the
time John was with us.

Today, in Australia . .

December the 9th at 2.50pm marks
the twenty fifth anniversary of John Lennon being
taken from us.

So far most of what I have read has been from fans in
the U.S and the U.K, but with the time differences, it
was 2.50pm on the afternoon of December 9 that the
horror unfolded down here in Australia. We had a
different perspective here than many others around the
world, as we didn’t wake to the news, we watched it

Today has really stopped me in my tracks, 25 years
have passed, I was only fifteen, I didn’t know death,
I didn’t know shock, I was still pretty much innocent
.. in the blink of an eye all that was to change.

By August of 1980 I had been a Beatle fan for five
years, in 1975 I was fan-ish enough to beg my brother
to take me to see Wings in concert, he didn’t, and I
sobbed like a .. well, ten year old.

During the years 1975 through to mid 1980, John had
pretty much retired. I didn’t ‘know’ him whilst he was
active and recording, I remember seeing the photo of
Yoko and he in our local paper that was taken in
February 1980 in Palm beach, wow, a John sighting! A few
weeks later Rolling Stone ran another photo of John in
Palm beach, this time he was standing alone on the
boardwalk (must find that picture some day) by this
stage I was collecting, and clipping everything about
the Beatles.

In August came the news that John was recording again,
I was SO excited!, I had a new Beatle to follow! Again
our local paper the Illawarra Mercury ran a photo of
John and Yoko arriving at the studio, it was real, it
was true, it was happening! John really was going to
be recording again, and by fifteen, I was old enough to
appreciate this.

Sydney Sunday Telegraph August 31 1980

I started collecting every bit of
news that filtered down to us, mainly from our Aussie
music magazine ‘Juke’, which I bought without fail
each week. Another magazine which I can’t recall the
name of, also had regular updates on John’s return, I
do remember Gil Tucker from ‘Cop Shop’ was on the
cover of this newspaper like magazine. This was all pre
Internet, so one had to hunt down news, scour papers and
magazines for the smallest bit of news. Each new find would
be read over and over, then cut out, and added to scrap books.

Nov 80

Tv Week ran a one page story in November, it had
a cool photo of Yoko and he standing outside the Hit
Factory studio in New York.

TV Week Nov 1980

One night in November I was lying on my bed listening
to my prized National radio cassette player, when the
announcer said, “Coming up next we premiere John
Lennon’s new single ‘(Just like) Starting Over’” gulp!! The
excitement!, my first time ever hearing a new John
Lennon song on the radio. The DJ played the song, and I
don’t remember what I thought of it on first listen,
but I remember singing it over and over all night, just
trying to remember it. Of course it turned into a
completely different song.


A week or so later I got Double Fantasy on cassette, I
can’t remember exactly, but I probably brought it from
the ‘Rock pit’ in Corrimal court, this was our local
record shop, and they knew I was a Beatle fan, they
always put my name on Beatle posters when they were
advertising a new album. Needless to say, my name went
on the giant Double Fantasy poster that the store had.
I remember holding the cassette in my hands as I sat
in the back seat of my parents purple Escort car while
dad filled up with petrol, I was just waiting to get
home to play it.

Above: My original cassette of Double Fantasy.

By the second week of December the year was winding
down, in February I would be turning sixteen. I felt
so old and mature, at school we were in the second
week of ‘End of year activities’. This was a cool thing
where for the last two weeks of school, you got to pick
fun subjects and activities, like skating and

On December the 9th the world was good, the weather
was warm, and for once school was fun. I spent the day
with my friend Jeff in the darkroom developing a heap
of photo’s we had taken in our photography course (I
still have one of these photos in my collection). We
had such a fun day, we had gone on an excursion into
town to David Jones to take some photos the previous
day. During lunch, as we walked north past the
industrial arts building, I vividly recall Jeff asking
me what I was doing later that day, I told him
excitedly that I was going to dinner at my brothers
place, and his girlfriend Sue was making apricot

Above photo: Taken in my photography class on December 8th.

When I got home from school at about 3.10pm, my sister
Rhonda was visiting mum, they were talking in the
kitchen, dad had just left for afternoon shift and I
went to my room and picked up my National radio
cassette player. I walked up to dads ‘shed’ (garage)
this is where my guitar and drums were kept. Every
afternoon I would grab my cassette player, and head
strait for the shed, I would put on a tape, or the
radio, and I would play along with whatever was on and
practice the drums.

This afternoon was no different, I
settled in, turned on the radio and started playing, I
flicked around the dial to find another song .. wow,
cool! A Beatle song, ‘Love me do’ so I played along to
that. I swept across the dial again, ANOTHER
Beatle song ‘Strawberry fields’.

When the song ended, so
did my childhood, so did my innocence.

‘In case you haven’t heard already, former Beatle John
Lennon was shot and killed just a short time ago in
New York city’.

The words of the DJ, I think it was Triple J radio.

What happened next I can’t explain, I guess it was

(I have since come to understand, in trauma, it’s
referred to, and known as, ‘Disassociation’).

Above: The radio announcement as I heard it.

Everything seemed to be in slow motion. I picked up
the radio and walked down to the house, but I don’t
remember walking, during the short time it took to
get to the house, I felt disconnected from my body. I
walked into the kitchen where my sister and mum were
talking, I didn’t say anything, I literally could not
speak. They saw something was terribly wrong, my sister
kept saying over and over, ‘What is it!?’. All I could
say was, ‘Just listen’.

I put the radio on the kitchen bench, and soon enough,
at the end of another Beatle song, the announcer came
back and repeated the words I had heard only minutes
before, ‘John Lennon has been shot and killed in New York’.
My sister and mum gasped, then my sister said, ‘I feel
like a part of me has died’.

In those few short seconds my childhood, innocence,
sense of safety, and hope, was snatched away from me.

I sunk down into a kitchen chair, the airwaves were
flooded with news and John songs. I gathered myself up,
and went in my room and found some cassettes. I
started taping the radio. I guess I thought If I put John
on tape, then he wasn’t really gone, he was still here. It’s
a phenomenon I’ve seen repeatedly since, with Princess Diana and
other high profile losses and disasters.

People seem to need something to cling on to, to not let go of.
I went and lay down on the lounge room floor, listening, trying
to take this in. The phone rang, and it was my sister Dianne, she
asked me if I had heard the news about John. In the
background I could hear my niece Kylie crying, who I
knew was crying as much for me, as she was for John.

Soon enough we had to go to my brothers for dinner. I
didn’t feel like seeing anyone let alone eating. I
remember arriving and being in shock, my brother
and his girlfriend Sue were really understanding, Sue in
particular I could sense felt horrible for me,

I didn’t eat that night, and I don’t know that I ever
ate apricot chicken again. I went and lay down on
Glenn and Sue’s bed, and listened to my radio, the
same one that brought me my first hearing of ‘Starting
Over’. I wouldn’t let go of the radio, I clung to it,
even when I went to the bathroom. I sat on the toilet
just to get away from everyone, and it was in
there that I heard ‘Working class hero’ for the first time.

Outside in the lounge I overheard my brother say to my
sister, ‘This will be one of the biggest news stories ever’.
When we got home, I was watching Roger Climpson read
the late news on channel 7. At the end they played the
video of John singing ‘Imagine’. At that moment dad
walked in from afternoon shift and said to me, ‘I see
your mate died’.

‘My mate’, oh how I wish. John was a person who sang
and wrote songs, songs that touch my very soul, I
‘feel’ his music, not everyone can, but I’m one of the
lucky ones, every one of his songs sound as fresh
to me today, as the first time I heard them. I don’t
know too many other artist who’s music you can say
that about, for me, The Beatles, solo Lennon and McCartney
and Brian Wilson.

One of my main joys in life is collecting everything
connected with John in 1980, the ‘Double Fantasy’
period. I love when I find a new photo from this time,
the reason being is the last six months of 1980 was
the only time I ‘had’ John. He wasn’t working as an
artist when I first became a fan. I cling to 1980, the
few memories I have of him whilst he was still alive,
because I miss him, I miss his music, I miss his
words, I miss the world I had when John was still here,
and so was my innocence, and sense of safety.

I miss the ‘man’ .. this is something that has only
very recently been made real to me. Only a couple of
weeks ago I got to visit New York for the first time,
within a day I understood why John fought for years to
be allowed to live there. I took a deep breath and got
on the subway and headed uptown to 72nd street, the
address of the Dakota.


After all these years of being a fan, John was an image
in a magazine, an image in a movie, when I ascended
the subway staircase and found myself standing next to
the Dakota, John became a ‘person’. Until you stand
and walk around where John called home, it’s hard to
get a real sense of him. When I walked
around to the entrance way to the building, and stood
in the spot where John had passed by a thousand times, I
really could imagine John in his
cool black cowboy boots, I could picture him walking
with pride with his wife and son in tow, across to
Central Park, scooting around the corner to Cafe La Fortuna
for his coffee, his gangly stride walking
around to the west side pharmacy to get his ‘bits and
pieces’ on Columbus Avenue. In a word I got a sense of
the ‘man’.

That’s when the real tragedy of that day in 1980 hit
me, he was just a man, a husband, a father and he was
taken from us all so easily and senselessly.

At 2.50pm today I’m going to be playing Double
Fantasy, and I’m going to be remembering that short
time I had with John.

Greg xoxo