In that silly “Kevin Bacon Game” there are a lot of people today who can say they are within one degree of John Lennon, as I am, but there are more people who can’t place themselves within any close proximity to someone who knew him yet have been touched by his genius forever. John entered my world on February 9, 1964 and has never left. At first he wasn’t my favorite Beatle – Paul got that honor as “the cute one” and besides, John was married.
I went through my hippie George phase and my witty Ringo phase, yet it was John who entered my soul and my heart………and my mind and got me thinking about politics, morés, emotions and right from wrong. I loved him, admired him, was frustrated by him and even fought with my Dad about him. John was the “bad boy boyfriend” I wanted from a distance because in reality I knew he would be way more than I could handle.
John was my senior art project in high school. John was the first in everything – heck it was “LENNON and McCartney.” So, on the night of December 8, 1980, when I was only three months into being a first grade teacher, my world was shattered by an announcement during a TV football game. I couldn’t sleep let alone understand how I would explain my battered state and this current event to 42 eager six-year-olds in the morning.
Their eager faces got me through the day and I was able to play Lennon’s music and explain to them how bad things happen to good people. They had heard blips of info from their parents that morning and some of them even knew who the Beatles were but as a class, we learned about life and death and how love can get you through tough days, as their little hearts kept me going that day.
There was love all around John’s passing, from strangers sharing stories to the long distance calls that came all day long, from my Uncle in Florida and my Aunt in Paris…….the late night chat with my then musician boyfriend…….and the compulsory journey to the vigil outside the Dakota. We survived with a little help from our friends.
OK, by now, if you’ve been reading this long you are probably wondering about that one degree of separation and I have several:
- I worked with DJ Scott Muni who did that now famous interview with John Lennon;
- As a rock photographer, I had the same agent who represented Bob Gruen, creator of that iconic Lennon-NYC photograph;
- My ex-boyfriend became Sean Lennon’s guitar tutor and was actually able to get my resume in front of Lennon confidante, Elliot Mintz, because I really thought Sean could use a good private tutor for first grade. I even got a call back from Elliot; and
- As a journalist, I remember sitting in a room with Julian Lennon, just he and I talking about his life, his music, his Dad. I felt sorry for Julian because he knew his Dad barely more than I did and had to share him with the world.
It has been 30 years since John Winston Lennon was ripped from us and I have a hard time imagining what he would be like at 70, what he would think of 911, what music he would be making. It is funny, but this week I have finally been able to let go of the tangible things in my life which kept me tied to John – my Beatles wallet, my Beatles 3-ring binder, my Beatles trading cards. Memories and love live on in your heart and things don’t matter. John knew that better than many people.
Yesterday I used to imagine I would run into him everywhere when I was in NYC. Today I never forget that dreary, dark day in December 1980 each and every time I pass West 72nd Street.