John Lennon: when did ex Beatles star die, how did he die, who shot him, what were his last words to Yoko Ono?

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John Lennon was shot dead by Mark David Chapman outside his New York apartment 42 years ago today

The death of former Beatles frontman John Lennon on 8 December 1980 remains one of the most devastating moments in the history of music.

At the height of their powers, The Beatles were viewed as the biggest music group on the planet. The Fab Four were more than just pop stars - they were pioneers for changes in music and fashion, art and culture.

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Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr enjoyed unprecedented success during the 1960s and have inspired a range of talented artists from future generations such as Oasis, Queen and Nirvana.

Lennon was just 30 years old when he left the Beatles in 1970 and he went on to have an incredibly successful solo career in the years that followed. The Liverpool born singer released a number of hits such as Imagine, Woman, Stand By Me and the New York singer illness update shared by wife, will he be OK - TikTok">well renowned Christmas song Happy Xmas (War Is Over).

However, Lennon’s life was cut short at just 40 years of age and he was brutally murdered, on the steps outside his home in New York. It was an event which sent shockwaves around the world, but what happened to John Lennon and who shot him?

Here is everything you need to know.

Who was John Lennon?

The Beatles

John Lennon was an English songwriter, musician and peace activist who rose to fame as the frontman of The Beatles.

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Lennon was one of the founding members of The Beatles and the group had evolved from the singer’s previous group the Quarrymen. The original line-up consisted of Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best. However, Best was replaced by Ringo Starr shortly before the release of their first album.

The Beatles enjoyed worldwide fame in the 1960s. (Getty Images)The Beatles enjoyed worldwide fame in the 1960s. (Getty Images)
The Beatles enjoyed worldwide fame in the 1960s. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

The Beatles released their first single Love Me Do in 1962 and a year later released their first ever album Please Please Me. By 1964, the band had established themselves as international stars and they enjoyed unprecedented success for the remainder of the decade.

The Fab Four released a total of 13 albums from 1963 until 1970 and released a host of famous hits such as Twist And Shout, Here Comes The Sun, Hey Jude and Strawberry Fields Forever. The Beatles enjoyed critical acclaim around the world - at the height of their fame in 1966, Lennon famously described the group as “more popular than Jesus”.

Solo career

The Beatles separated in 1970 after an incredible eight year stint dominating the charts around the world. There are multiple theories as to why the band split up - some argue it was due to the influence of Lennon’s partner Yoko Ono, whereas others claim that Paul McCartney instigated the split.

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John Lennon went on to form an incredibly successful solo career during the 1970s and he released a number of popular hits including Imagine, Woman and Happy Xmas (War Is Over).

How did John Lennon die?

John Lennon was killed by a man named Mark Chapman on 8 December 1980.

Who was Mark Chapman?

Mark Chapman was an American who was born in Texas on 10 May 1955. As a teenager Chapman was a huge fan of The Beatles and he regularly listened to their music growing up.

By the age of 25, Chapman was a born again Christian and he became incensed with an earlier comment made by Lennon where he had described The Beatles as “more popular than Jesus.”

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Chapman had reportedly been planning the murder of the former Beatles frontman for several months and he travelled to New York in October 1980 with the intention of murdering Lennon, but later changed his mind.

Chapman monitored Lennon throughout the day of his death and reportedly blended in with sections of the Beatles fanbase. Eye witnesses claim Chapman even got a signed album from Lennon earlier that day.

Lennon was killed outside of his home at around 10:50pm and was shot in the back five times by Chapman.

What were John Lennon’s last words to Yoko Ono?

John Lennon and Yoko Ono had spent the entire day together before he died. The pair did a photoshoot for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and Lennon also gave his final interview for RKO Radio.

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Lennon and Ono later worked on mixing Ono’s song Walking on Thin Ice, which featured Lennon on lead guitar. In 2007, Ono opened up about her final day with the Imagine singer in an interview with the BBC.

Ono recalled that the pair were walking home and she asked if he would like to go somewhere for dinner. However, Lennon turned down the suggestion and said he wanted to see his son before he went to sleep. Lennon said: “No, let’s go home because I want to see Sean before he goes to sleep.”

Sean Ono Lennon was just five-years-old at the time of his father’s death and he was waiting in the apartment for his parents to come home.

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