Excerpt: 'The Last Days of Dead Celebrities'

Later that morning, Lennon had his hair cut at a nearby salon and then returned home to do a photo shoot with Yoko for photographer Annie Leibovitz. At 1 P.M., Lennon did a phone interview with a disc jockey from the RKO Radio Network. John and Yoko spent the remainder of the afternoon making phone calls and playing with Sean. The only real plan they had was to return to the Record Plant so they could continue tinkering with Yoko's song.

"It was getting late," recalled Yoko, "and we both said, 'Oh, we better go now.' We were getting to be like this old couple who really knew each other so well, and knew each other's moves so well. I went out that weekend and I bought some chocolates because John loved chocolate. I had gone out to get something, I don't remember what, and I thought, 'Oh, I better get some chocolate for him.' And I did. "Then I came upstairs, and before I could open the door, he opened it from the inside, and he said, 'I knew you were coming back.' "I said, 'How did you know that?' "He said, 'I just knew.' "I said, 'I thought of your chocolate, and I got you some.'" Lennon graciously took the chocolate from his wife and set it down on a table, but he never took a bite.

At approximately 5 P.M. on Monday, December 8, John and Yoko came downstairs and were met outside by two fans, Paul Goresh, a photographer from New Jersey, and Mark David Chapman, a twenty-fiveyear- old former hospital security guard from Decatur, Georgia. Goresh had stationed himself outside the Dakota on several occasions, and as a result his face was recognizable to the Lennons. Chapman, however, was a new face, and when he thrust his copy of Double Fantasy in front of Lennon in hopes of getting an autograph, John complied. He scribbled "John Lennon 1980" on the album, and then handed it back to its owner.

John and Yoko knew they were not going to pull another allnighter at the Record Plant. Most of the work on Yoko's song had been done, and producer Jack Douglas promised that he would have a master copy finished by 9 A.M. the following morning. The Lennons were grateful to get out of the studio at a relatively early hour. As Yoko said, "John wanted to get home early enough to say good night to Sean." Goresh was already gone by the time John and Yoko returned to the Dakota. But Chapman was still there, waiting. The time was 10:49 P.M. Yoko got out of the limousine first, followed by her husband. Chapman said hello to her as she walked by, and then, as Lennon passed him, Chapman called out, "Mr. Lennon?"

As Lennon turned around, Chapman pulled out a .38 revolver, dropped into a combat stance, and fired five shots at point-blank range. The bullets hit Lennon in the back, shoulder, and arm. He managed to stagger up the few steps to the building's front desk before dropping to the floor and moaning, "I'm shot. I'm shot."

The desk clerk, Jay Hastings, pressed an alarm button that was wired directly to the Twentieth Precinct, and within two minutes police were on the scene. Lennon was taken by a police car to the emergency room at Roosevelt Hospital, on West Fifty-ninth Street. A team of seven doctors worked feverishly to save Lennon's life, but the blood loss was too great, and he died.

"It wasn't possible to resuscitate him by any means," said Dr. Stephen Lynn, the hospital's director of emergency services. Chapman, who never left the scene outside the Dakota, offered no resistance and was taken into custody.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...