If John Lennon hadn't been gunned down in New York in 1980, the global icon of youthful rebellion could have celebrated his 70th birthday this Saturday. Fans around the world are marking the date with what his widow, Yoko Ono, has called an explosion of sentiment.
Nearly 30 years after Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman outside The Dakota, the apartment building where he lived, admirers of all ages gathered right across the street today in a part of Central Park called "Strawberry Fields," honoring his memory by singing his songs.
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Lennon's life and work are still drawing plenty of fresh interest and new fans.
Today, Google honored the musician on its home page with an animated doodle set to his solo song, "Imagine."
His solo albums are all being re-released together in a set, "The John Lennon Signature Box," which includes some of his personal tapes, outtakes and sketches.
There's a new film coming out, "Nowhere Boy," about Lennon's pre-Beatles teenage years in Liverpool, England.
And on Nov. 22, PBS' "American Masters" series will air a documentary called "LennoNYC," taking a look at the last decade of Lennon's life, living in New York with Ono. The documentary includes rare home movies from the five years that Lennon took off from music to raise his son, Sean. It was an act of domesticity seen as radical at the time.
"There really wasn't a model for a father who stayed home with his kids, for a father to be as involved in raising his family and making that a priority," said Alan Light, a rock critic for Rolling Stone. "In the '70s, that wasn't really a thing that you saw so much."
'Imagine': John Lennon Would Be 70
Yoko Ono, who married Lennon in March 1969, has said she's still getting over her husband's murder. She was with Lennon when Chapman shot him.
"It was very hard because it was a sudden thing that happened, he wasn't ill for a long time or anything," Ono told Reuters today.
Ono also says she's surprised by all the attention given her husband's birthday, but it is a testament to Lennon's enduring appeal.
"I have a seven-year-old who is a crazy, obsessive fan," said Rolling Stone's Light. "All these kids know these songs. So many of the songs are no part of sing-a-longs in nursery schools and lullabies and the music that you grow up with when you live on this planet."
It's proof that even decades after his death, John Lennon still matters.