Posts Tagged ‘December’

DECEMBER 8TH 1980:

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

It’s amazing that more than 33 years later new photo’s and frames surface of John
in 1980.

This photo is an unseen frame from December the 8th 1980, and is on the cover
of this weeks edition of the NME.

This photo says so much, and really moves me. At no other time
did John look like this, besides the pics of him in Hamburg taken by Astrid.

Something happened to John in the last couple of days of his life, he transformed,
he looked and sounded different, i can’t put my finger on it, nor put it into words,
but as this photo shows, John looks resigned, at peace, anticipating.

Yoko’s remembrances from this day may go some way into explaining it ..

WALKING ON THIN ICE by Yoko Ono was first published in Rolling Stone, December 2010 issue as “John’s Last Days: A Remembrance by Yoko Ono”.

“The last weekend was very quiet. The sky was cloudy in a restful way. And the town seemed as though it was asleep.

Saturday started with John listening to “Walking on Thin Ice”. As John was so focused on it, I went out to the news stand and suddenly thought I should get John some chocolates as a surprise. He loved chocolates, but it was not in our sugarless diet at that point. After the drug binges of the Sixties, John wanted both of us to clean up and be healthy “for Sean’s sake too.” But that Saturday, the last Saturday John would enjoy, I thought of getting him some chocolate and surpri sing him. I don’t know why I thought that. I didn’t like chocolates at all then, so I wasn’t suffering not eating them. I got some and came home. As I came out of the elevator, I was surprised by John opening the door to the apartment before I rang the bell. “How did you know I was coming back just now?” “Oh, I know when you’re back.” He was so happy that I got him the chocolates. I remember how he smiled.

The same day, John wanted all my artwork to be brought upstairs from the basement to the white room. This was not the first time he asked for it, but he asked for it on this weekend again. “It’s ridiculous. We have those great works, and we are leaving them in the basement. I want to enjoy them.” For me, it was boring to have to see my old works every day. As a result, my pieces were piled up in the basement storage covered in dust. In those days, I didn’t particularly care about that. “John, can we do it after we finish the album? We are all so busy now.” “No, we should do it now. You’ll never do it otherwise.” As he said it, there was a touch of sadness in his voice, as if he already knew we would never bring them upstairs. We didn’t.

All day, John did not stop playing “Walking on Thin Ice.” He played it over and over again. We still hadn’t overdubbed the guitar solo, so I thought he was checking what to do with it. But it was unlike him that he took so much time on it. I went to sleep. When I woke up on Sunday morning, he was still playing “Walking all Thin Ice” as he looked over the park. I knew the song was a good song. But I was just thinking of what else should be done musically. Never thought deeper than that at the time. Only just recently, it occured to me that maybe John was aware of the song in a different light.

Walking on thin ice
I’m paying the price
For throwing the dice in the air.

But it goes into the middle eight after the second verse:

I may cry someday,
But the tears will dry whichever way…
And when our hearts return to ashes
It’ll be just a story.

I hadn’t realized that it said “I may cry someday,” not “YOU may cry someday” or “WE may cry someday.”

What was I thinking?! John probably noticed it as he listened to the song that weekend, so intently. Was that what made him keep on listening? Did we know something? John? Me? Death was one thing we didn’t discuss that weekend. But it was around us like a thick fog.

The last Sunday. I’m glad in a way that we didn’t know that it was our last Sunday together, so we could have had a semblance of normalcy. But it turned out that it was not a normal Sunday at all. Something was starting to happen, like the dead silence before a tsunami. The air was gelling tenser and tenser, denser and denser. Then, I distinctly saw airwaves in the room. It was wiggly lines, like on the heart monitor next to the hospital bed, just before it becomes a flat straight line. “John, are you all right?” I asked through the density. He just nodded and kept listening to “Walking on Thin Ice,” playing it loud. “Walking on thin ice. Walking on thin ice …” “John, John, arrre youuuu alllll riiight?” I heard my voice vibrating. I could not go near John, for some reason. WALKING ON THIN ICE. WALKING ON THIN ICE. WALKING ON THIN ICE. I realized that both of us were in a strange dimension in a weird time zone, as if we were in a dream. Then it all stopped. I went into a long and shallow sleep, with John over me, kissing me tenderly.

Monday. The very last day of John’s life, we woke up to a shiny blue sky spreading over Central Park. The day had an air of bright eyes and bushy tails. John and I remembered that we had a full schedule. Annie Leibovitz’s photo session, RKO radio show, and studio work from 6 p.m. John liked being prompt. John was English, I was Japanese. The result was both of us possessed extreme austerity and hilarity back to back. The sky was turning gray in the afternoon. And John kept talking to the RKO radio guy, cramming in a lot of things. We nearly became late for the studio. I rushed into the car and saw John still signing an autograph for a guy in front of the Dakota. “John, we’ll be late!” I remember being a bit irritable. “Why one more autograph?” I thought. John said something like, “OK,” and rushed into the car, sat next to me and held my hand as usuaL The car drove off.

I know I speak of his hands a lot. I loved his hands. He used to say he had wanted hands like Jean Cocteau – long and slim fingers. But I grew up surrounded by cousins with those aristocratic hands. I loved John’s, clean, strong, working-class hands that grabbed me whenever there was a chance.

The studio work went until late at night. In a room next to the control room, just before we left the studio, John looked at me. I looked at him. His eyes had an intensity of a guy about to tell me something important. “Yes?” I asked. And I will never forget how with a deep, soft voice, as if to carve his words in my mind, he said the most beautiful things to me. “Oh” I said after a while, and looked away, feeling a bit embarrassed.

In my mind, hearing something like that from your man when you were way over 40… well… I was a very lucky woman, I thought. Even now, I see his piercing eyes in my mind. I don’t know why he decided, at that very moment, to say all that as if he wanted me to remember it forever. Did it matter that the whole world hated you if your guy loved you that much? Who cares if you had to live in hell with him? Some couples might be lucky to live in heaven. John and my heaven was in Hell. And we loved it. We would not have wanted it any other way.

Yoko Ono
London, October 18th, 2010

TUESDAY DECEMBER 9TH 1980 IN AUSTRALIA:

Monday, January 16th, 2006

(ABOVE PIC: INSIDE THE DAKOTA, DECEMBER 8TH 1980).

In December last year shortly after my visit to New York, it was the 25th aniversary of the murder of John Lennon, a death i’m still processing and coming to terms with. My diary from many years ago has a space where i wanted to put down my memories of that horrible day, but could never bring myself to write them down, that is until my return from New York and visiting the Dakota.

During that visit John became very much a real person to me, just a singer, just a husband, just a father and a man, and that was a heartbreaking realisation.

Today, in Australia December the 9th 2005 at 2.50pm marks the twenty fifth anniversary of John Lennon being taken from us. So far most of what I have read has been from fans in the U.S and the U.K, but with the time differences it was 2.50pm on the afternoon of December 9 that the horror unfolded down here in Australia.

We had a different perspective here than many others around the world, as we didn’t wake to the news, we watched it unfold before our eyes, and our ears.

Today has really stopped me in my tracks, 25 years have passed, I was only fifteen, I didn’t know death, I didn’t know shock, I was still pretty much innocent, but in the blink of an eye all that was to change.

By August of 1980 I had been a Beatle fan for five years, in 1975 I was fan-ish enough to beg my brother to take me to see Wings in concert, he didn’t and I sobbed like a .. well, ten year old. During the years 1975 through to mid 1980 John had pretty much retired, I didn’t `know’ him whilst he was active and recording, I remember seeing the photo of Yoko and he in our local paper that was taken in February 1980 in Palm beach, wow John! .. then a few weeks later Rolling Stone ran another photo of John in Florida, this time he was standing alone on the boardwalk.

By this stage I was collecting and clipping everything about the Beatles. In August came the news that John was recording again, I was SO excited!, I had a new Beatle to follow! our Sunday paper in Sydney ran a photo of John and Yoko arriving at the studio, it was real, it was true, it was happening! John really was going to be recording again, and by fifteen I was old enough to appreciate this.

(ABOVE PIC: SYDNEY SUNDAY TELEGRAPH AUGUST 31 1980).

I started collecting every bit of news that filtered down to us, mainly from our Aussie music magazine `Juke’ which I purchased each week without fail.

Another magazine which I cant recall the name of also had regular updates on John’s return, I do remember Gil Tucker from `Cop Shop’ was on the cover of this newspaper like magazine.

Tv Week magazine in Australia ran a one page story on November 8th titled ‘The Lennon genius is reborn’.

One night in November I was lying on my bed listening to my prized National radio cassette player when the anouncer said “Coming up next we premiere John Lennon’s new single `Starting Over’ gulp!! The excitement!, my first time ever hearing a new John Lennon song on the radio, he played the song and don’t remember what I thought of it on first listen, but I remember singing it over and over all night trying to remember it, of course after a few run throughs it turned into a completely different song.

A week or so later I got Double Fantasy on cassette, I can’t remember exactly, but I’m pretty certain i purchased it from the `Rock pit’ in Corrimal court, this was our local record shop.

(ABOVE PIC: MY ORIGINAL CASSETTE OF DOUBLE FANTASY, CAFE LA FORTUNA BUISNESS CARD, AND AN EXACT REPRODUCTION OF THE GLASSES JOHN WORE IN 1980).

The record store always put my name on Beatle posters when they were advertising a new album, needless to say my name went on the giant Double Fantasy poster that the store had.

I remember holding the cassette in my hands as I sat in the back seat of my parents purple Escort car while dad filled up with petrol on the way back from the shop, I couldn’t wait to get home to play it.

By the second week of December the school year was winding down, in February I would be turning sixteen, I felt so old and mature. At school we were in the second week of `End of year activities’ this was a cool thing where for the last two weeks of school you got to pick fun subjects and activities, like skating and photography.

On December the 9th the world was good, the weather was warm, and for once school was enjoyable. I spent the day with my friend Jeff in the darkroom developing a heap of photo’s we had taken during our photography course. We had such a fun, we had gone on an excursion into town to David Jones to take some photos the previous day.

(ABOVE PIC: VIOLATED DAVID JONES STORE MANEQUIN, ALL IN THE NAME OF ART. MONDAY DECEMBER 8TH 1980).

During lunch on the 9th as we walked north past the industrial arts building, I vividly recall Jeff asking me what I was doing later that day, I told him excitedly that I was going to dinner at my brothers place, and his girlfriend Sue was making apricot chicken.

When I got home from school at about 3.10pm, my sister Rhonda was visiting mum, they were talking in the kitchen, dad had just left for afternoon shift, and I went to my room and picked up my National radio cassette player.

I walked up to dads `shed’ (garage), this is where my guitar and drums were kept, every afternoon I would grab my cassette player, and head
strait for the shed.

I would put on a tape, or the radio, and I would play along with whatever was on and practice the drums, this afternoon was no different, I settled in, turned on the radio, and started playing. I flicked around the dial to find another song .. wow, cool! A Beatle song `Love me do’, so I played along to that.

Sweeping across the dial I found , ANOTHER
Beatle song `Strawberry fields forever’ was playing.

When the song ended so did my childhood, so did my innocence.

`In case you haven’t heard already, former Beatle John Lennon was shot, and killed just a short time ago in New York city’. The words of the DJ on Sydney’s 2SM.

CLICK ON THE HIGHLIGHTED LINK BELOW TO HEAR THE ANNOUCEMENT AS I HEARD IT.

2SM Dec 1980

What happened next I can’t explain, I guess it was shock. Everything seemed to be in slow motion, I picked up the radio, and walked down to the house, but I don’t remember walking, during the short time it took to get to the house I felt disconnected from my body.

I walked into the kitchen where my sister and mum were talking, I didn’t say anything, they saw something was terribly wrong, my sister kept saying over and over `What is it!?’, all I could say was `Just listen’, I couldn’t repeat the words I’d just heard on the radio.
I put the radio on the kitchen bench, and soon enough at the end of another Beatle song, the announcer came back and repeated the words I had heard only minutes before `John Lennon has been shot and killed in New York’ my sister and mum both gasped, then my sister said `I feel like a part of me has died’. In those few short minutes my childhood, innocence, sense of safety, security and hope was snatched away from me. I sunk down into a kitchen chair, the airwaves were flooded with news and John songs.

I gathered myself up and went into my room and found some cassettes, I started doing what many others were doing around the world simultaneous to me, I started taping the radio. I went and lay down on the lounge room floor, listening, trying to take this in, the phone rang and it was my other sister Dianne, she asked me if I had heard the news about John, in the background I could hear my niece Kylie crying, who I knew was crying more for me, than for John.

Soon enough we had to go to my brothers for dinner, I didn’t feel like seeing anyone, let alone eating, I remember arriving and still being in shock, my brother and his girlfriend Sue were really understanding, Sue in particular I could sense felt horrible for me, I didn’t eat that night, and I don’t know that I ever ate apricot chicken again.

I went and lay down on Glenn and Sue’s bed, and listened to my radio, the same one that brought me my first hearing of `Starting Over’ only a few weeks previous. I wouldn’t let go of the radio, I clung to it, even when I went to the bathroom, I sat on the toilet just to get away from everyone, and it was in there that I heard `Working class hero’ for the first time.

Outside in the lounge, I overheard my brother say to our sister `This will be one of the biggest stories ever’. When we got home I was watching Roger Climpson read the late news on channel 7, at the end they played the video of John singing `Imagine’, at that moment dad walked in from afternoon shift, and said to me `I see your mate died’, `My mate’ oh how I wish.

John was a person who sang and wrote songs, songs that reach deep into my very soul, I `feel’ his music, not everyone can, but I’m one of the lucky ones who experiences this phenomenon with music by certain artists. Every one of his songs sound as fresh to me today as the first time I heard them, I don’t know too many other artist who’s music you can say that about, The Beatles, solo McCartney and Brian Wilson.

One of my main joys in life is collecting everything connected with John in 1980, the `Double Fantasy’ period, I love when I find a new photo from this time, the reason being is the last six months of 1980 was the only time I `had’ John, he wasn’t working as an artist when I first became a fan. I cling to 1980, the few memories I have of him whilst he was still alive, because I miss him, I miss his music, I miss his words, I miss the world I had when John was still here, along with my innocence and sense of safety.

I miss the `man’, this is something that has only very recently been made real to me, a few weeks ago I got to visit New York for the first time, within a day I understood why John fought for years to be allowed to live there, it’s a great, eclectic, and welcoming city.

Soon after arriving I took a deep breath, and got on the subway, and headed uptown to 72nd street, the address of the Dakota. After all these years of being a fan, John was an image in a magazine, an image in a movie, when I ascended the subway staircase and found myself standing next to the Dakota, John became a `person’.

Until you stand and walk around where John called home, it’s hard to get a sense of him as a person, but when I walked around to the entrance way to the building, and stood in the spot where John had walked a thousand times, I really could imagine John walking by in his cool black cowboy boots, I could picture him walking with pride with his wife, and son in tow across to Central Park, scooting around the corner to La Fortuna for his favourite coffee. His gangly stride walking around to the West side pharmacy to get his `bits and pieces’ on Columbus Avenue, in a word I got a sense of the `man’.

That’s when the real tragedy of that day in 1980 hit me, he was simply a man like any other, a husband, a father, brother, friend and he was taken from us all so easily and senselessly. At 2.50pm today I’m going to be playing Double Fantasy, and I’m going to be remembering that short time I had with John.

Greg xoxo