On the evening of 8 December 1980, John Lennon, was fatally shot in the archway of the Dakota, his residence in New York City.
The perpetrator was Mark David Chapman, an unemployed resident of Hawaii. Chapman stated that he was incensed by Lennon’s lifestyle and public statements, especially his much-publicized remark about the Beatles being “more popular than Jesus” and the lyrics of his later songs “God” and “Imagine”.
Chapman also said he was inspired by the fictional character Holden Caulfield from J. D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye.
Chapman planned the killing over the course of several months and waited for Lennon at the Dakota on the morning of 8 December. During the evening, he met Lennon, who signed his copy of the just-released album Double Fantasy.
Lennon then left with wife Yoko Ono for a recording session at Record Plant Studio. Later that night, the couple returned to the Dakota. As they walked toward the archway entrance of the building, Chapman fired five hollow-point bullets from a .38 special revolver, four of which hit Lennon in the back.
Chapman remained at the scene until he was arrested by the police. Lennon was rushed in a police cruiser to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
A worldwide outpouring of grief ensued on an unprecedented scale. Crowds gathered at Roosevelt Hospital and in front of the Dakota, and at least three Beatles fans committed suicide.
On December 12th Yoko requested 10 minutes of silence around the world, instead of holding a funeral. Chapman pleaded guilty to murdering Lennon and was given a sentence of 20-to-life imprisonment. He has been denied parole ten times since he became eligible in 2000.
On the morning of December 9th, Paul was in shock. He had just lost his beloved writing partner, dear friend in an instant. He had mentally left Wings, and I’m sure somewhere in his mind the thought of working again with a now creative Lennon existed. No matter how bad things had ever been between them as the Beatles split to the jabs in print and on record, there could never be another musician or person who could’ve taken the place in McCartney’s heart but John.
So, Paul decided to seek comfort in the studio that day, and be with George Martin, rather than staying at home.Instead of continuing work on “Rainclouds” the men (and I believe Denny Laine was in the studio that day as well), laughed, cried and spent the day sharing John stories and grieving together. At one point they were both looking out a window and a truck drove by with the name LENNON FURNITURE on the side. Goose bumps material.
As McCartney was leaving the Oxford Street recording studio when reporters asked him for his reaction; he looked distraught and glassy eyed, chewing gum and quickly responded, “Drag, isn’t it?”
When publicized , the response was widely criticized. McCartney himself regretted the seemingly callous remark. He later said that he had intended no disrespect and simply was unable to articulate his feelings, given the shock and sadness he felt over Lennon’s murder.
Reporter: What was your reaction to the death of John Lennon this morning?
Paul McCartney: Umm, very shocked you know. It’s terrible news.
R: What were you recording today?
P: I was just listening to some stuff you know. I just didn’t want to sit at home.
P: Well, I didn’t feel like it.
R: What time did you hear the news?
P: This morning some time.
R: Very early?
R: Stunned, isn’t it?
P: Yeah……..drag, isn’t it?
The death of John Lennon is something Paul has had to come to grips with, but it has forever left a void in his heart. —————————————————-
Paul came back into the studio one more time (December 14th) in 1980, working on material that would be spread over his next two albums….
1981 became the first year since 1962 in which Paul released no new material.
In early January, beside working on the new album, Laurence Juber and Steve Holley came in for the last Wings sessions. Again, another attempt at the long held project, Cold Cuts and Hot Hits.
After many months of silence “Paul called up and said I’m going to have George Martin produce this record and he does not want it to be a Wings album. He wants it to be a McCartney album and use session players, casting it on a per song basis.” “I figured that was pretty much the end of it, but then Paul added that he wanted to get together in January 1981 to work on the long-running Cold Cuts project.”
“I remember particularly “A Love For You”, because I had always liked that song, and I put some slide guitar on the track. At the sessions, Paul also put new vocals on “Waterspout” and “My Carnival”. The last song we worked on was a remix of “Same Time Next Year”. Ironically that was the first and the last track recorded during my tenure at McCartney University” – Laurence Juber
“One of the jokes I’d been waiting to use for the minute Wings spit was to say, ‘Wings fold’! But, as it turned out, Wings didn’t actually fold, they just sort of dissolved, like sugar in tea.”- Paul
Paul continued working with George Martin, Denny Laine, Eric Stewart, Linda and now, a series of special guests came in and added to the mix. Ringo, Steve Gadd, Stanley Clarke, Stevie Wonder, Carl Perkins and Michael Jackson among them.
Session work moved to Martin’s AIR studios in Montserrat from February 2nd thru March 3rd. Paul helped on Perkins’ “My Old Friend.” Sadly, this studio was destroyed in a hurricane a few years later.
In March-April Paul, Linda and Denny helped George Harrison invitation with backing vocals on the Lennon tribute, “All Those Years Ago.”
Paul then wanted George to record some backwards guitar on a track he was working on, (“Wanderlust”) but it never happened.
Sessions returned to Martins’ AIR studio in London, and after the March 30th recording of “Ebony And Ivory,” Paul took a short break until working with Jackson in May.
The album, “Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea” was released on the same day( March 30th).
In between these dates Denny Laine quit Wings, and working with Paul on April 27th. He had no-showed a session and his wife, Jo-Jo told Paul on the phone that he had quit.
On the very same day Ringo married Barbara Bach, his wife till the present day. The three surviving Beatles jammed in a relaxed environment during the reception.
On June 10th, The 1979 Wings Back To The Egg special aired finally on UK television.’
Paul and Martin picked back up in July through the rest of the 1981, working on recording and mixing finished tracks which would be spread over the next two releases.
The 6th Buddy Holly Week was celebrated again in early September.
Session work resumed again, on and off, from January until April 16th (second sessions with Michael Jackson, this time for Jackson’s next album, THRILLER).
March 29th saw the release of “Ebony And Ivory” as the first single from the new album.
On April 26th, Paul’s third solo album was finally released, amid much fanfare. Expectations were very high because of press of Martin’s return as producer, the success of “Ebony And Ivory” and how the death of Lennon would affect Paul’s first release afterwards…..
The album was called, TUG OF WAR. Next….