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John Winston Ono Lennon
John Lennon
December 8, 1980
Age 40

The Dakota.  Site of murder one day later,
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Mark David Chapman, killer of John Lennon, gives an unidentified Vietnamese child a ride on his shoulders in 1975 at Fort Chaffee near Fort Smith, Ark. Chapman was at the Army base with YMCA during Vietnamese relocation efforts. Chapman has almost finished his minimum sentence of 20 years in prison for the slaying of Lennon in 1980, and will have his first parole hearing Oct. 3, 2000. Chapman is serving a life sentence at Attica Correctional Facility. In an interview to be aired on Court TV the day before the hearing, Chapman said he thinks Lennon would have wanted him to be set free. (AP Photo/Greg Lyuan)  


Vanity and a Small Voice Made Him Do It  **(editorial link)

          By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN NY Times 

               On Dec. 6, 1980, Mark David Chapman boarded a plane in Hawaii for New York City, where he planned to win infamy by murdering a Beatle. He had a .38 caliber revolver tucked in his luggage and, by his own account, "a small voice" in his head telling him to kill. Two days later, John Lennon was shot dead. 

          On Oct. 3, Mr. Chapman had his first parole hearing at the Attica state prison, where he is serving 20 years to life. He told the three parole commissioners in a 50-minute interview that he had no expectation of going free and had even considered not submitting the paperwork requesting a hearing. 

          "I filled it out to follow procedure because you have a right to talk to me," he said. "You have a right to know what happened. We're accountable to the people, to talk. So that's why I'm here." 

          But the transcript suggests many motivations: to explain, to show off his newfound religion, to address his portrayal by the news media, to apologize and, perhaps, to briefly recapture the spotlight he so desperately craved. Excerpts follow. 

  The commissioners began by recounting the circumstances leading up to the murder. 

          Q. Can you please tell us what you were thinking about at the time and why you would do something so horrible? 

          A. I, um, flew to New York a few months before that to do that crime with full meditation in my heart. I then was able to somehow turn myself around and came back to Hawaii, and I told my wife that all was fine. And then the urges started building in me again to do this crime, and I flew back to New York on December 6th and checked into a hotel, and then on the day of December 8th, stayed outside the Dakota waiting for him with intent to shoot and kill him. . . . 

          Q. Mr. Chapman, have you given thought . . . as to what's behind all of this and why you were so possessed with doing such harm to this person? 

          A. I was feeling like I was worthless, and maybe the root of it is a self-esteem issue. I felt like nothing, and I felt if I shot him, I would become something, which is not true at all. 

          Q. Mmm. hmm. 

          A. But that's why I shot Mr. Lennon.

          Q. And him in particular because he was someone that you admired or you looked at him and his stature and you thought this would have some impact on your life, sir? 

          A. I was in the library . . . and I came across a book called "One Day at a Time," and I saw him there with photographs in front of his residence, the Dakota, and I was full of anger and resentment. I took it upon myself to judge him falsely for for, you know, being something other than, you know, in a lotus position with a flower. . . . So it started with anger, but I wasn't angry the night I shot him. 

At another point, Mr. Chapman was asked about the details of the murder and how he financed his trip to New York. 

          Q. How far away were you when you fired the shots? 

          A. Ten, 15 feet. 

          Q. You knew the devastation? 

          A. Um, I knew death would occur. I knew that I was probably not going to be killed. Did I see the whole range of consequences? No. . . . 

          Q. Where did you get the money? You mentioned selling a painting for all this. 

          A. I had a Norman Rockwell lithograph that I sold. 

Mr. Chapman, who acknowledged having a list of other celebrities he thought of killing (the names were blacked out in the transcript), was asked whether he heard voices. 

          A. Probably right toward the end, I heard a small voice, but I wasn't hearing voices. 

          Q. What small voice did you hear? 

          A. Just do it. 

          Q. Who was that voice do you think? 

          A. Probably something very evil, but I did it. 

          Q. We understand that you did it. 

          A. I didn't do it because voices told me to do it. That was a misunderstanding from the very beginning, and that's not true. 

The commissioners wanted Mr. Chapman to describe his two decades in prison, including his apparent mental breakdowns and episodes in which he refused to eat for days at a time. 

          Q. How do you think you have improved yourself in the prison setting, sir? . . . 

          A. I, over the years . . . have gotten relatively slowly but surely on a more even keel mentally. I attribute that to God, and I attribute that to being by myself  for a number of years and just having time probably alone and to think this out. And toward the end of the 80's, I just started clearing up. I had a clear mind. I didn't feel I was schizophrenic, and I put down for the family reunion program, and people started coming to see me on a regular basis. I became, if you will, more religious. And in the 90's, I kept on getting better and better and clearer and clearer. . . . 

Mr. Chapman, when asked about his future if released, talked of possibly working on a farm. 

          Q. Where are you planning to live if you are paroled . . .? 

          A. Well, I wrote down there that I would immediately try to find a job, and I really want to go from place to place, at least in the state, church to church, and tell people what happened to me and point them the way to Christ. 

          Q. Have you given thought to your own safety? 

          A. I feel like God would protect me. . . . I would still be practical. I wouldn't work at McDonald's. 

At several points the commissioners focused on Mr. Chapman's desire for notoriety. 

          Q. Society tends to acknowledge people and recognize people through their accomplishments. . . Apparently you had a very skewed thought in terms of how you would be acknowledged. 

          A. Yes, sir, it was skewed. It was wrong. 

          Q. So it was a vanity for you as well? 

          A. Absolutely. 

          Q. You wanted attention? 

          A. Sure. 

          Q. Widespread attention? 

          A. Yes, sir. 

Later, Mr. Chapman expressed regret for giving a 1987 interview to People magazine and insisted that despite speaking with Barbara Walters and Larry King, he has denied most requests. He complained about being quoted out of context. 

          Q. Are there any other areas you feel you should straighten out, as you put it, any false perceptions that you feel? 

          A. Yes, sir. I don't think I'm a celebrity. A chimpanzee could have done what I did. 

          Q. Being a chimpanzee that doesn't mean you are a chimpanzee or not a chimpanzee. 

          A. What I mean is there was no skill in what I did, and anyone could have done this. Anyone could have pulled the trigger, and I'm nobody special, and I just wish it was that way. Unfortunately it's not, but I do wish I was a big nobody again. . . . I wish this had never happened. 

Given the chance to make a closing statement, Mr. Chapman apologized. 

          What I did was despicable. . . . I don't feel it's up to me to ask to be let out. Again, I believe that once you take a person's life, that's it. . . . 

          I'd like to take the opportunity to apologize to Mrs. Lennon. I've thought about what it's like in her mind to be there that night, to see the blood, hear the screams, to be up all night with the Beatle music playing through her apartment window. . . . 

          I feel that I see John Lennon now not as a celebrity. I did then. I saw him as a cardboard cutout on an album cover. I was very young and stupid, and you get caught up in the media and the records and the music. And now I I've come to grips with the fact that John Lennon was a person. This has nothing to do with being a Beatle or a  celebrity or famous. He was breathing, and I knocked him right off his feet. . . . I don't have a leg to stand on because I took his right out from under him, and he bled to death. And I'm sorry that occurred. 

          And I want to talk about Mrs. Lennon again. I can't imagine her pain. I can't feel it . . . I saw an article in Newsweek about three months ago. . . . She said on that night that she was shaking uncontrollably. And I think for the first time I really realized, you know, the pain that I caused. I mean, here's a person that can't control their body, and that really hit home. . . . I originally wasn't going to come here after that article I read, because of the shaking uncontrollably. That bothered me. And I think it really hit home.

          Again, I'm not saying these things for for you to give me any kind of consideration of letting me go. I'm saying that because they are real, and it happened to me, and I felt her pain then and I can honestly say I didn't even want to feel it up until then. It's a horrible thing to, you know, realize what you've done. 

          The parole board, which usually issues its decisions within a day or two, rejected Mr. Chapman's application a few hours later. He becomes eligible for parole again in October 2002.


   John Lennon Exhibit At Rock Hall  Includes Blood-Splattered Glasses


      With increasing competition for rock and roll artifacts, the  Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum needed a shot in the arm to show it is still the place for music fans to garner  heir history lessons. 

      In the Rock Hall's corner is Yoko Ono Lennon, a longtime supporter who was on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony when the Museum opened its doors five years ago. At that time, she had donated her  late husband's Sergeant Pepper outfit. 

      With the opening Friday (Oct. 20) of Lennon: His Life and Work, she has contributed to a retrospective on John Lennon that will shed some light on his achievements in music and culture as well as the complexity of the man. This will be the only place in America to hold a major showing of this collection. It runs through the summer of 2001. 

      During a brief press conference at a media preview Thursday (Oct. 19), Ono surmised that Lennon would be touched by such an extensive display in his honor. "John had a modest side as well. That we remembered him, he'd be happy," she said. 

      Jan Wenner, Rolling Stone publisher and editor, was also on hand. He stated that, "There will never be as important an 
      artist celebrated here, one artist celebrated in his entirety." 

      Ono felt the time was right to put the exhibit together because this is the 60th anniversary of his birth (Oct. 9) and the 20th anniversary of his death (Dec. 8). 

      The result takes up three floors. Each one represents a particular aspect of his life -- personal, creative, and musical. 

      Ono admitted that it was emotionally difficult to let go of the personal items, many of which are encased in a huge display that consists of 60 small circular windows and the number 60 painted on it. 

      The creative floor spans Lennon's artwork (childhood drawings to those made during the infamous bed-ins in 1969 and his final collages done while on vacation in Japan), Beatles memorabilia, and an assortment of instruments and outfits from his entire career. "Imagine," the documentary film about his life, runs continuously. 

      While music can be heard on each floor, it is at the final stop that one can view original handwritten lyrics from the Beatles and his solo work. Surely, the most talked-about items are displayed quite early. They are a bag containing the clothes as well as the blood-spattered glasses Lennon wore when he was murdered on Dec. 8, 1980. 

      "It can be criticized," said Ono, "but this exhibit shouldn't focus on us, a tragedy, because so many have been shot by 
      guns." Billboards related to gun violence will be erected in Cleveland, New York, and Los Angeles in conjunction with 
      the exhibit. 

      While discussing the ongoing process of putting this together, Ono presented the overall "statement" that she hoped to achieve. "John was a public person. He stood for peace, stood for music as a songwriter and singer. He was a revolutionary who changed the world." ~ John Patrick Gatta...Oct 20, 2000




     The Book 

    A 360-page tell-all memoir written by the Beatle's three surviving members -- McCartney, 58, George Harrison, 57, and Ringo Starr, 60 -- due out this autumn is being billed as a definitive exercise in myth-shattering. 

    The tome, entitled The Beatles Anthology, will reportedly set the record straight on the group's drug use, sexual exploits, rivalries and -- most significantly -- the whys and wherefores of their break-up. 

    The book, according to a recent report in a British newspaper, argues that Lennon walked away from the group, leaving bassist-singer McCartney to make the formal announcement of the split months later. If true, that would topple conventional theories that McCartney precipitated the split. 

Lennon Remembers: The Full Rolling Stone Interviews from 1970  --  Hardcover 

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