When John Lennon‘s life was tragically taken away on December 8th, 1980, an immediate outpouring of grief was triggered around the world. From the closest reaches of New York City, where Lennon was shot, to his hometown of Liverpool plus numerous countries and continents all over the globe, fans were distraught that one of their greatest heroes was taken away from them so violently and so suddenly.
During this time, the vast majority of televisions in the United States only had three channels. ABC was showing a Monday Night Football game which routinely brought in millions of viewers, but the announcers were suddenly uninterested in a game that was coming to its climactic potentially game-winning field goal attempt. They soon learned why: Howard Cosell, who had interviewed Lennon in the MNF booth just six years earlier, broke the news of Lennon’s death to a shocked nation.
Almost immediately, fans began to congregate anywhere they could. In New York, it was by the Dakota, where Lennon lived throughout the 1970s. For others, it was public square, outside record stores or radio stations, or anywhere that could contain public anguish. Shrines, tributes, and makeshift memorials were assembled throughout the streets of the world, with the highly political and often controversial singer being immediately deified and martyred to the sounds of ‘Imagine’ and ‘In My Life’.
To fully understand the impact of Lennon, and the wider impact of The Beatles as a whole is to witness the incredible number of tributes that have popped up in his honour across the world. Through almost every corner of the globe, you’re all but guaranteed to find a statue, a sign, or even just a small shop that has made the preservations of John Lennon and The Beatles their primary mission.
As the years continue to pass since his tragic demise, Lennon’s primary image has focused on his massive musical impact with The Beatles and his strong advocacy for peace around the world. The latter has been the focus of most of his physical tributes and memorials, with Yoko Ono doing a fair amount of work in the years following his death to make sure that his messages of unity continued to live on.
Today, in parks and public spaces across the globe, you can find a statue, plaque, or monument to Lennon to pay your own respects. It would require thousands of miles of travel just to reach each and every tribute scattered across various countries, but Lennon’s image has transcended cultural and political boundaries. Here are some of the most notable Lennon memorials from around the world.
John Lennon tributes around the world:
Strawberry Fields, Central Park, Manhattan, New York City
Five years after Lennon’s murder occurred just meters away, a small section of Manhattan’s famed Central Park was rechristened as ‘Strawberry Fields’ and a mosaic with the word ‘Imagine’ was placed in the centre of a walkway.
Lennon himself was known to walk through the path, thanks to its close proximity to The Dakota, and after his passing, the area became one of the world’s most famous tributes to Lennon’s memory.
John Lennon Memorial Garden, Durness, Scotland
Although Paul McCartney famously absconded to his Scottish farmhouse upon the dissolution of The Beatles, Lennon was also known to visit the Highlands during the end of the band and before he made permeant residency in the US.
Their holidays in Durness have now been memorialised at the Village Hill Gardens, where a section of the area contains stones with lyrics from ‘In My Life’ dedicated to the former Beatle.
Imagine Peace Tower, Viðey Island, Iceland
Without a doubt, the most awe-inspiring and ostentatious memorial to Lennon’s memory came from Ono in honour of his 67th birthday: a massive 10-metre well with 15 searchlights that are lit mostly from the date of Lennon’s birth (October 9th) to the day he died (December 8th).
Carved within the structure is the word ‘Imagine’ in 24 different languages, representing the universal nature of Lennon’s peace message.
John Lennon Peace Monument, Liverpool, England
Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of Liverpool-based tributes to find in Lennon’s hometown, whether it’s the airport named in his honour of the Hard Days Night Hotel that features an entire suite dedicated to Lennon, complete with a white piano not unlike the one Lennon had in his house.
However, the John Lennon Peace Monument, erected in 2010 to celebrate his 70th birthday, is the most explicitly reverential tribute in the city where The Beatles grew up.
Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic
Immediately following his assassination, a makeshift tribute to Lennon was graffitied onto across from the French Embassy in Prague. In the 40 years since, the wall has continuously been added to and painted over, making it one of the most extensive unofficial tributes to Lennon and his ideals in the world.
The wall even carried over to Hong Kong, where a similar makeshift monument to peace and democracy began to be assembled by the people. As a tribute to the power of his influence, walls with these kinds of messages have come to be known as “Lennon Walls”.
John Lennon Park, Havana, Cuba
Although the music of The Beatles had been banned in Cuba during Lennon’s lifetime, the nation eventually came to embrace the singer. In 2000, on the 20th anniversary of his murder, a park in the Vedado district of Havana was dedicated to Lennon’s memory.
Included in the area is a bench with a statue of Lennon, but if you want a picture of him with his signature “granny glasses”, you have to ask the security guard nearby, as numerous vandals have stolen the originals.
John Lennon Statue, The Cavern Club, Liverpool, England
The worldwide trip heads back to where it all began for Lennon: Liverpool. At the club where The Beatles made a name for themselves as Liverpool’s hottest new act, there stands a statue of a young Lennon that has been in place since 1997.
The Cavern Club is an essential part of The Beatles history, and while other important figures are memorialised in the bricks that make up the club’s foundation, Lennon’s presence remains the biggest as he stands outside the entrance.
John Lennon Statue, Lima, Peru
Although they went through many permutations and changes in their initial incarnation, The Beatles 50th anniversary was celebrated by artist Fredy Luque in 2007 when he constructed a statue of Lennon playing his Epiphone Casino guitar from the late ’60s period Beatles.
Located just outside the Parque Media Luna, the statue serves to illustrate just how far Lennon’s and The Beatles’ influence has managed to spread over the decades.