|Photo by: Battleofearth.wordpress.com|
On the night of December 8, 1980, the world stood still and New York grew silent as crowds mourned and watched the news unfurl that beloved ex-Beatle John Lennon was shot and killed outside his home by deranged fan Mark David Chapman. Thirty years later, Lennon’s family, friends and fans have decided to approach the anniversary with a celebratory mood.
This year is a significant one for Lennon. In addition to the 30th anniversary of his death, this year signifies what would have been his 70th birthday, the 50th anniversary of his formation of the Beatles and the 40th anniversary of the band’s split.
The Beatles Story, a Beatles-themed visitor attraction in Liverpool, England, launched a John Lennon Tribute Season to celebrate the musician’s life, works and mission for world peace. The festivities kicked off on Lennon's birthday, October 9, and come to a close on December 9. His first-born son Julian joined his mother Cynthia (Lennon’s first wife) to kick things off by unveiling an 18-foot structure to symbolize Lennon’s quest for peace.
“I think the mourning is over for John," Cynthia Lennon told Reuters.com. "I think it's time to celebrate, which is what we're doing."
Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, "I would say that let's not think about the fact that he passed away, but let's think about, you know, we should celebrate that he was here. The fact that he was here really helped the world.”
Concerts, film and art festivals, poetry competitions, lecture programs and tours of Lennon’s haunts in Liverpool followed the statue unveiling leading up to the big finale--the John Lennon tribute concert that will take place tomorrow, December 9.
Ono has used her husband’s death as an inspiration for her new art exhibit opening in Berlin, Germany. The centerpiece of her new exhibit is a glass window with a bullet hole through the middle, symbolizing her husband’s murder. Ono says that the point of this piece is so that the viewer can look through both sides as the victim and the shooter. And although she has not been able to forgive Chapman, as she told Time.com, with this piece of art she wanted people to be able to see from both vantage points, because as she says, one day you may be a shooter, but the next day you may be a victim.
In light of this year of many anniversaries, Yoko Ono also oversaw the remastering of her husband’s entire musical catalog, which includes the re-release of Double Fantasy, the album that she and John had recently finished just before his death.
On top of the revamping of Lennon’s works, those of us here in America not lucky enough to be a part of the Liverpool festivities were able to look forward to a number of Lennon films. One such film is the documentary Lennon NYC, which aired November 22 on PBS. Another is the 2009 British film Nowhere Boy, which chronicles a snarky Lennon’s teenage years, dealing with his relationship with his Aunt Mimi and mother Julia and the events leading to the formation of the Beatles.
Though Beatlemania has long faded, Lennon is still cherished and honored by fans from all around the globe. According to Cbsnews.com, on October 9, fans gathered around the Strawberry Fields mosaic in Central Park and sang in unison the lyrics to Lennon’s “Imagine.” As the plaque reads, 121 countries recognize the Strawberry Fields mosaic as a “garden of peace.” One fan, Joan Acarin, remarked, "The values Lennon defended are still alive, it's the idea that we do not have to fight wars."
Crowds also gathered outside of the Dakota Hotel, the place where Lennon was gunned down and also lived for the last nine years of his life with Yoko Ono. One can only imagine the crowds that will gather in New York today, the actual anniversary of his untimely death.
In his years as a member of the Beatles, John Lennon was regarded as a rock god. Even after the Beatles years, Lennon is still regarded as a legendary icon. Throngs of loyal fans still celebrate his life and music, and new fans are constantly being introduced to his music.
On top of his rock star status, Lennon’s legacy as a peace activist still precedes him. Even five decades after his famous bed-ins for peace that he held with Ono, his fans still aim to live out his ideals, for the world to "live as one."
In his life, Lennon reached a status of which most musicians only dream to catch a glimmer. Ono summed it up quite nicely in a column she wrote for the New York Times that was published yesterday (December 7): "The most important gift we received from him was not words, but deeds. He believed in Truth, and had dared to speak up. We all knew that he upset certain powerful people with it. But that was John. He couldn’t have been any other way.”
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