Julian Lennon has opened up in conversation with his brother, Sean Ono Lennon, about the time he found out that his father, John Lennon, was killed.
As part of the upcoming feature ‘John Lennon at 80′, a radio show hosted by Lennon’s son Sean, the musician is joined by a host of people who knew his father best. While Paul McCartney joined to discuss a range of topics surrounding his Beatles bandmate, and Elton John also discussed his relationship with Lennon, a candid conversation between brothers has produced some particularly heartwrenching moments of reflection.
The show will be a rare in-depth insight into one of Britain’s finest musical talents and is set air over the weekend and feature conversations numerous well know names, completing an in-depth look at John Lennon’s influence on music and his personal life.
At around 5pm on December 8th, 1980, Lennon signed a copy of his album Double Fantasy for fan Mark David Chapman outside his Manhattan home while heading out to the recording studio. Later that day, after returning home from the session at 10:50pm, Chapman shot Lennon four times in the back at close range. The iconic musician was then pronounced at Roosevelt Hospital just ten minutes later.
The very next day, with the world in a state of shock, Ono issued a statement, saying: “There is no funeral for John,” before following it up with: “John loved and prayed for the human race. Please do the same for him.”
At a recent parole hearing, murderer Chapman was once again denied the opportunity to cut his sentence short, with the killer acknowledging his crime and suggesting he deserved the death penalty after revealing he killed the singer for “glory”.
On that fateful night, miles away in North Wales, Julian Lennon was awoken by his world crashing around him both physically and metaphorically. “You know, dad and I had been getting on and speaking a lot more on the phone, you know, when I was sort of 16, 15, 16 and 17,” Julian remembers of the period prior to his father being killed. “And I just remember I was living in North Wales at the time and I’d spent six months or a year in boarding as well and I’d finally come home. And I was living at mum’s house and I was finishing up at school and I remember him playing ‘Starting Over’ over the phone, he just mixed it. And he played it over the phone and I was living in the attic in the house in this street called Castle Street in a town called Ruthin, and I remember hearing it and saying I loved it, I absolutely loved it.
“I didn’t know what to expect from this new album of his… Double Fantasy. And I’d heard that and I told him how much I loved it and then obviously, what happened happened.”
Detailing the actual moment he found out about the news, Julian added: “It was literally, I don’t know whether it was the same day or night after or a couple of, it was right within that time period that I woke up with the unfortunate news of, I woke up in the middle of the night with the chimney falling in into my room at the house and I just remember that as being the last kind of moments, listening to him being extremely happy in a happy place, and doing what he loved, and the music that he played me at that particular point, ‘Starting Over’, and some of the other album tracks.
“I was very happy for him and looking forward to seeing him again. Anyway, in another dimension.”
‘John Lennon at 80’ from 9-10pm, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th October on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds.