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Slowik: Lennon’s death ended reunion dream, but joy of Beatles music endures – Daily Southtown

Slowik: Lennon’s death ended reunion dream, but joy of Beatles music endures – Daily Southtown

Slowik: Lennon’s death ended reunion dream, but joy of Beatles music endures – Daily Southtown
December 09
14:46 2018

Some moments in history can impact great numbers of people and still touch individuals in a deeply personal way.

Saturday marks the 38th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder on Dec. 8, 1980, in New York City. The sudden, violent loss of an artist who promoted peace through his fame and talent shocked and saddened fans around the world.

In suburban Chicago, the event changed the worldview of a 15-year-old future newspaper columnist who was obsessed with the music of The Beatles.

My earliest memory of how much I loved The Beatles was in 1971. Our first-grade teacher at St. Cletus School in LaGrange was accepting suggestions for a class sing-a-along. I proposed we sing “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” Paul McCartney’s hit single at the time. We ended up singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

I vividly recall staying up listening to Casey Kasem count down the year’s top songs on the radio on New Year’s Eve in 1976, when McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs” was No. 1.

Back then, disc jockey Terri Hemmert hosted “Rampant Beatlemania” on WXRT-FM 93.1. I remember celebrating the annual early-summer extravaganza one year while riding my bicycle on a spectacular day. I propped a portable radio on the handlebars and sang along to “I Dig a Pony.” It was as joyous a moment as anyone has ever experienced.

I knew every lyric of every Beatles song. I could recite the track order of every American Beatles album released on the Capitol and Apple record labels. By 1980, I had collected virtually every piece of available vinyl associated with the group.

I wore out copies of every album released by the band and every solo album recorded by each of its four members. I had nearly every 45 rpm, 7-inch single they made. Many featured rare B-sides that would not otherwise be available for many years.

By the fall of 1980, I had started collecting Beatles releases imported from other countries. After a day at St. Ignatius College Prep, I’d catch an “L” train downtown and visit Rose Records on Wabash Avenue, which had an extensive offering of imports.

Back in the pre-internet era, I read every book about The Beatles available at the LaGrange Public Library. (Philip Norman’s “Shout!” was by far the best.) I attended what was then known as Beatlesfest, now called The Fest for Beatles Fans for legal reasons I do not comprehend.

I obtained a copy of the novel “How I Won the War” by Patrick Ryan because the book featured Lennon’s picture on the cover. Lennon starred in a film version of the book, and the experience inspired a verse of his song “A Day in the Life.”

I felt an insatiable need to absorb every bit of information about the group in order to better understand and appreciate the inspiration for their music and lyrics.

December, 1980 was an exciting time for an adolescent in the throes of an all-consuming Beatles obsession. Lennon, along with his wife and musical partner Yoko Ono, had just released “Double Fantasy.” It was Lennon’s first album in five years.

Mind you, at that point he had achieved the pinnacle of success with The Beatles and his solo career over a span of about 15 years. His five-year absence from the limelight amounted to roughly one-fourth of his adult life.

He had stopped recording and releasing music following the birth of their son, Sean, in 1975. Lennon had receded from public view, but the other three Beatles remained active. McCartney and his band, Wings, recorded and toured until McCartney was arrested for marijuana possession in Japan in 1980 and spent nine days in jail.

George Harrison made wonderful records in the 1970s and famously appeared on an episode of “Saturday Night Live!” with Paul Simon in 1976. Harrison and producer Lorne Michaels memorably engaged in a mock argument over a running joke about offering The Beatles $3,000 to reunite and perform on the show.

Drummer Ringo Starr released albums, worked on films and popped up regularly in entertainment news. Lennon was reclusive, but in 1980 he was back. Radio stations played his new single “(Just Like) Starting Over.” The chimes in the song’s introduction added to a wonderful sense of hope and cheer that Christmas season.

The hope felt at the time by the 15-year-old, Beatles-obsessed future newspaper columnist was that Lennon’s return to public life was a step toward the ultimate dream of a Beatles reunion. Back then, the only dream that seemed more unlikely than a Beatles reunion was a Cubs World Series championship.

Lennon’s murder on Dec. 8, 1980 ended the dream. His death meant there was no longer any way The Beatles could set aside their differences and make new music together again.

Sorrow faded as years passed. Listening to Beatles music remained a joyful experience, but the passion waned for collecting their catalog. I moved on and explored other music.

The Who, The Rolling Stones and other British Invasion artists were the next targets of my musical affection, though I never again loved any band as much as I loved The Beatles.

I became interested in origins of the blues artists from Chicago and the Deep South who inspired the rock stars I admired. That led to an appreciation for Muddy Waters and many others, and I learned about struggles that inspired blues music.

I attended my first rock concert in 1981 and saw many great live shows over the years. Most people develop their musical tastes in their teens. By the 2000s I no longer recognized most of the artists on the Billboard charts.

When Harrison died in 2001, I mourned his passing but did not feel the same sense of loss as when Lennon died. The dream of a reunion had ended 21 years earlier. I didn’t care much for songs included in the “The Beatles Anthology” series that featured surviving members performing along with tracks Lennon had recorded before his death.

I still turn up the volume when I hear a Beatles song on the radio. They were, in my opinion, the greatest band of the rock era. They created wonderful sounds, and I admired how listeners could often personally relate to lyrics about love, breakups and other matters.

Lennon and The Beatles made millions of people feel like whatever they were going through, they were not alone. They seemed to know how you felt, and their music made you feel better.

I’m grateful for the joy I felt when I was a young fan who loved everything about The Beatles. A senseless murder ended the dream of a reunion, but the fine music they created endures.

Source: Slowik: Lennon’s death ended reunion dream, but joy of Beatles music endures – Daily Southtown

About Author

Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

Martin A Nethercutt is a writer, singer, producer and loves music. Creative Director at McCartney Studios Editor-in-Chief at McCartney Times Creator-in-Chief at Geist Musik President (title) at McCartney Multimedia, Inc. Went to Albert-Schweitzer-Schule Kassel Lives in Playa del Rey From Kassel, Germany Married to Ruth McCartney

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