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Legend of John Lennon will never die 35 years since his shooting

The John Lennon Museum (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)
The John Lennon Museum (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

EVERY day, Beatles fans visit Central Park, New York, to see a mosaic circle bearing the word Imagine.

It’s a poignant moment, as these people are paying homage to their late music hero, John Lennon, who was murdered 35 years ago this month.

John and wife Yoko Ono lived in the Dakota apartments, adjacent to this section of the park, and it was here, when John returned home, on December 8, 1980, that the guitarist and singer was shot dead, by crazed fan Mark David Chapman.

John may have been a man of rock ’n’ roll, but he just wanted to Give Peace A Chance, which is more than can be said for his killer.

Earlier on the day of the eighth, Chapman had been amongst autograph hunters outside the Dakota building.

He handed John his copy of his Double Fantasy album to be signed.

An eerie photograph has caught John doing a favour for the man who’d murder him later that same day.

Chapman had originally been a Beatles fan but, according to one of his friends, became angry towards John when the Beatle was taken out of context as saying his band was “bigger than Jesus”.

Jan Reeves, the sister of one of Chapman’s best friends said that he stopped listening to Beatles albums at that point.

“He seemed really angry toward John Lennon, and he kept saying he couldn’t understand why he had said it,” said Jan.

“According to Mark, there should be nobody more popular than the Lord Jesus Christ. He said it was blasphemy.”

He’s also said to have detested the song Imagine, believing that John was a hypocrite, singing in Imagine about no possessions, while in reality, he was living a millionaire’s lifestyle and about no religion, despite being into meditation and spiritual practices.

At his evangelical group, it is claimed that Chapman sang the words: “Imagine there’s no John Lennon.”

As Chapman has admitted as recently as last year, at his latest parole hearing, he had planned John’s murder for a long time, stalking him for some months.

He’d flown back and forth from his home in Hawaii to New York to check John was still living at the Dakota.

Despite the mild weather, Chapman wore many layers on that fateful day, concealing a gun in the inside pocket of his coat.

John was in good spirits, as David Geffen, head of the label John and Yoko were signed to, told the star that Double Fantasy had just gone gold.

John was thrilled and smiled at producer Jack Douglas as he was leaving the studio, saying: “See you tomorrow morning, bright and early!”

Meanwhile, Chapman was still at the Dakota, awaiting John’s return. When the singer arrived, he shot John four times. A fifth shot missed.

By the time that John arrived at hospital, he had lost 80% of his blood, and despite seven medics being on the scene, there was nothing they could do.

On ABC, Monday Night Football, Howard Cosell broke the news seconds before the end of the game: “An unspeakable tragedy, confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City.

“John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most-famous, perhaps of all The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt, dead on arrival.”

On an eerie note — apparently the surgeon and a few other witnesses, claimed that at the time that John’s death was being pronounced, The Beatles’ hit All My Loving started playing on the hospital sound system.

This is not the only creepy moment related to John’s death, however.

Just two days before he was murdered, John was interviewed by Andy Peebles for BBC Radio 1.

Discussing his fans, John said: “People come and ask for autographs, or say: ‘Hi,’ but they don’t bug you.”

In another interview, with Rolling Stone, three days before his death, the musician raged against critics who treated his post-Beatles output with disdain.

“These critics with the illusions they’ve created about artists — it’s like idol worship,” John complained.

“What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean.

“I’m not interested in being a dead hero.”

Even in The Beatles’ heyday, there were almost-prophetic moments.

In one interview, asked if it was true that the band were leaving showbusiness in a year, John quipped: “No . . . unless we get shot or something.”

The 1965 film Help! also contained a scene where John was held at gunpoint.

Then, in 1969, during a documentary, John opened a letter from a fan, who warned John there would be an assassination attempt on his life.

The fan claimed that the spirit who gave them the information was the former Beatles manager Brian Epstein. The date for the murder attempt was given as March 6, 1970.

“Brian” also stated that Paul McCartney would be in London at the time.

The date is wrong by more than a decade.

However, although this letter seems to have been nothing more than coincidental, the fact that John was murdered, while Paul was, in fact, in London at the time is quite chilling.

The memorial for John, in Strawberry Fields, a 2.5-acre tear-shaped area of the park was a fitting tribute to the peace activist and was created with a $1 million donation from Yoko.

Earlier this year, during which John would have turned 75, crowds gathered in Central Park in an attempt to break the world record for the largest group of humans forming a peace sign, to pay tribute to John.

They didn’t succeed —more than 2,000 people turned up, but at least 5,000 would be needed to set a new record — but it’s a lovely tribute, with Yoko saying: “This is the best present to John.”

In 1981, John’s murderer was sentenced to 20 years in prison, after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

He was denied parole for the eighth time last year, but is entitled to an annual visit from his wife Gloria.

The pair spend up to 44 hours in a caravan in a New York correctional facility, away from security guards.

Chapman was given the rights to this after he signed up for protective custody.

They eat pizza and watch episodes of Wheel of Fortune — simple things Yoko will never be able to do with her husband again.

It’s tragic to think the writer of the lyrics: “Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too” saw his life ended in such a violent way.

However, it’s touching his memory lives on three decades later, and his memorial is seen as a symbol of hope for the future and for a world without war.