It’s been nearly 40 years since the world lost The Beatles’ founder John Lennon and, in a recently discovered interview, it was revealed that there could have been another famous face to fall at the hands of the murderer Mark David Chapman in the shape of the Starman himself, David Bowie.
Chapman, a crazed fan of The Beatles and Bowie, was recently denied parole once more as he bids to reconcile his actions with the incredible loss of one of the world’s most beloved genius. According to an interview in 1999, Bowie was next on Chapman’s hitlist and narrowly escaped becoming a victim.
In 1980, as John Lennon, Yoko Ono and their son Sean lived out their days at the Dakota Building, David Bowie was gearing up for a new role on Broadway starring as the titular character in The Elephant Man. The play has often been regarded as some of Bowie’s finest acting work and had gathered aheap of press attention even before it kicked off.
Comparatively, John Lennon was living a quiet life. It has been some years since he withdrew from the public eye but, by 1980, he was thinking of a dramatic return to the music business having spent the last years looking after his son. The return had seen the name of John Lennon once again be pulled around the media. On December 8th, 1980 it would make the front page.
On that day Mark Chapman approached John Lennon outside his home while he was with his wife Yoko and ask for an autograph. After obliging, Chapman opened fire on Lennon and one of the brightest lights of modern music was extinguished forever. According to an off-the-record interview conducted by Redbeard, it would appear that Bowie was to be Chapman’s next victim.
“I was second on his list, the detectives said,” Bowie told Redbeard as they shared a studio near Madison Square Garden in 1999. It’s not difficult to imagine, the star was one of the biggest names in music during the seventies and while the next decade had initially seen him return to acting, he was still one of the most famous people on the planet.
In a cruel twist of fate or perhaps a hint at just how serious Chapman was about taking out Bowie, the singer also revealed the murderer had booked a ticket to his Broadway show, ”Chapman had a front-row ticket to ‘The Elephant Man‘ the next night. John and Yoko were supposed to sit front-row for that show, too.
“So the night after John was killed there were three empty seats in the front row. I can’t tell you how difficult that was to go on. I almost didn’t make it through the performance.”
Bowie and Lennon were good friends and even enjoyed working together on one of Bowie’s greatest songs. The loss of Lennon was undoubtedly a huge shock to Bowie, who also paid tribute to the singer a few years after his death and we cannot imagine the difficulty he must have felt to perform on that night.
Revisit David Bowie singing ‘Imagine’ in tribute to John Lennon, below.