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12/08/2010

Thirty years ago: John Lennon

December 8, 2010 |  3:27 pm

Lennon pageTimes staff writer John J. Goldman began his breaking news story on the death of John Lennon outside the now-famous Dakota apartment building by writing:

"NEW YORK -- Former Beatle John Lennon, 40, who led a revolution in popular music that captured the imagination of an entire generation, was shot to death Monday night outside his exclusive Manhattan apartment house."

The banner headline declared “Beatle John Lennon Slain,” although in later editions it was amended to say “Ex-Beatle.”

The 30th anniversary of Lennon's death is being marked with a number of tributes and reflections, including a wistful New York Times piece on what it was like for residents of the Dakota to share the historic co-op with Lennon. (He was obsessed with raising his young son, Sean, and  brought a sushi platter to a potluck.)

On Friday, Rolling Stone will publish what the magazine is calling “The Lost Lennon Tapes,” a transcription of a nine-hour interview Lennon gave three days before he died. After excerpts from the tapes ran in the magazine in early 1981, writer Jonathan Cott said he tossed them in a closet and only rediscovered them earlier this year.

On the tapes, Lennon complains about his critics -- saying that they were just interested in “dead heroes” –- and talked optimistically about his family and future, musing that he had “plenty of time” to accomplish some of his goals, according to the Associated Press. The tapes were released to the wire service on Wednesday. 

In Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times, Jon Wiener, a UC Irvine history professor and author of the 2000 book “Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files,” analyzes “Imagine,” the song that was Lennon’s most celebrated work. Released in 1971, the work is “a hymn to idealism” that still provokes controversy today, Wiener writes. He points out that Christians have condemned the song, schools have banned it and students have been suspended over it. 

Times blogs also examine some of the history behind the songs Lennon wrote and report on a National Public Radio segment that features another 1980 interview with Lennon, who was then a stay-at-home dad who fancied himself a baker.

-- Valerie J. Nelson

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