Murdering John Lennon – Thirty Years Later, The Question Still Lingers. Why?

A Commentary by Doug Draper

 “I’m shot. I’m shot,” he reportedly said as he staggered closer to the entrance of the Dakota Hotel in a City of New York he loved and felt so safe in.

There were even a few reports that he may have uttered the word “why” as he crumbled to the ground, hemorrhaging to death from gunshot wounds delivered by a psychopathic stalker he gave an autograph to only a few hours earlier.

 I will never forget walking into the newsroom of The St. Catharines Standard (where I worked for the first 19 years of my career in this now shaky journalism business) a few minutes before midnight on Monday December 8, 30 years ago, and seeing the shocked and bewildered looks of the editors on the desk as they stared at the paper’s then primitive computer screens.

 Before I had the chance to ask what awful thing happened, one of them looked up and said; “John Lennon has been shot and a bulletin just came in that he is dead.”

 I was 13 years old when The Beatles made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show – an appearance that changed pop culture forever – and I don’t mind admitting that I worshipped this guy as one of the most exciting and talented pop artists on the planet. I don’t know how I got through writing the stories I then had to write about a meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake that night. I was so numb with disbelief and grief that those stories must have been pretty crappy.

 Whether Lennon actually uttered the word “why” as he breathed his last on this earth, many millions of us were certainly asking that question. Why would someone, however deranged, want to pull out a gun and destroy someone who had brought so much joy to the lives of so many other people?

I could not let this 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s assassination go by without mentioning it, just as I did the 30th anniversary of his birthday this past October. Accuse me of being a little too carried away with the life and times of this person and I suppose I would have to say guilty as charged. Let younger generations have Lady Gaga. I’ll take John Lennon.

 In the October post on his birthday, I made reference to his song “Imagine” which seems to have become the one people remember the most from his solo career. There was another one, however, that he once said he hoped would be his signature song. It was called “Working Class Hero” and was recorded in 1970 when The Beatles were going through their divorce.

 I would suggest that the anger and rebelliousness that comes through in this song is closer to the lay of the land today than “Imagine,” which I think is a sad comment on our times. A fair warning to some of our readers who don’t much care for the “f” word. It is used a couple of times in this song, which probably explains why it did not become the hit on the radio during those years that “Imagine” did.

 Working Class Hero,

By John Lennon, 1970

As soon as your born they make you feel small,
By giving you no time instead of it all,
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school,
They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool,
Till you’re so fucking crazy you can’t follow their rules,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty odd years,
Then they expect you to pick a career,
When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV,
And you think you’re so clever and classless and free,
But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

There’s room at the top they are telling you still,
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
If you want to be like the folks on the hill,
A working class hero is something to be.
A working class hero is something to be.
If you want to be a hero well just follow me,
If you want to be a hero well just follow me.

 (Click on Niagara At Large at for more news and commentary of interest and concern to residents in our greater binational Niagara region.)


4 responses to “Murdering John Lennon – Thirty Years Later, The Question Still Lingers. Why?

  1. Why indeed! I too remember it well and was a crazed Beatle’s fan. I still have a cedar chest full of magazines, programmes and ticket stubs. I was VERY angry and then just VERY sad.
    Why would someone kill a man who had given so much happiness and had so much yet to give? Why when he had a young son he adored and another son he was just getting to know again? Why when he had a life with much tragedy and the pressures of youthful fame? Why after he had been at times a very nasty, cynical and insecure man who had now put all that behind him? Why when he matured enough to use his intellect and the adulation of his fans for nothing but good will and peace? Why when he was creating some of the best music of his life? So many why’s?
    Who knows what might have been? I know he was not a perfect person by any means but to be cut down when he had finally found peace and got his act together was just tragic.
    Many of his songs were very personal and he put his raw emotions out there and bared his soul for all to see in songs like “Mother”, “Instant Karma”, and “Imagine”. Few people have the guts to do that. For that very reason, many of his songs strike the heart with a unique meaning to each person who hears them. I always cry when I hear “In my Life”.
    All of this was lost because some idiot loser with a gun, who has never to this day shown any remorse, wanted to be famous.
    I still smile when I hear his music and that of his three “brothers”. That music will endure for a long, long time.


  2. My thoughts on John Lennons death is that we lost a real artist and we were deprived of a soul who’s best work lay ahead of him, that microbe , Chapman, was a complete loser, he tried to fashion his life style to emulate John by marrying an asian girl and became the ultimate stalker, this insane Chapman thought he could imbue the spark of genius that Lennon had by taking Lennons life, a primal act that the savages do with their eating the hearts of their conquests. I am six months younger than Lennon and walked the same streets that he did, and growing up in post war Liverpool know exactly what he was singing and talking about. He saw the utter hypocracy of the system he was raised up in. George.


  3. Thanks for writing this Doug. We lost a great voice that day. A voice for peace; a voice for and of the people. Peter Gabriel wrote the song “Family Snapshot” and although it isn’t about John (it’s about Arthur Bremmer, the man who attempted to shoot George Wallace), it does to try to answer the “why”:

    “I don’t really hate you
    I don’t care what you do
    We were made for each other
    Me and you
    I want to be somebody
    You were like that too
    And if you don’t get given you learn to take
    And I will take you.”

    On a more personal note, I had to put my cat down on Sunday. He had been with me his whole life, almost 15 years, so December 5th was especially sad for me. Rest in peace John. Rest in peace Sunny. Say hi to Woody for me on the other side of the rainbow bridge.


  4. Randy Busbridge

    War Is Over If You Want It.

    Happy Christmas


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