IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Remembering John Lennon

Dateline interviewed different people who knew, admired, and crossed paths with John Lennon. Below, are excerpts of their remembrances of the music legend, as told to "Dateline."

How did John Lennon—the man and the music— touch your life?

Max Weinberg, drummer, Bruce Springstreen and the E Street band; Max Weinberg Seven
"I think were always attracted to John Lennon because he was someone who truly made a difference.  Whether you liked him on the Beatle level or the politically-active level— the songwriting level, the cultural level, he was someone who always spoke his mind, was always honest. And if you remember back to the early Beatle pictures, he was always the one with his tie askew or his jacket unbuttoned. He was different. He was an iconoclast.  He didn’t fit the mold.  And in so many ways, he broke the mold."

Jane Pauley, Beatles fan, who reported Lennon's murder the morning after on the Today Show
"The Beatles came to Indianapolis where I grew up, to the State Fair Coliseum.  It was levitating with screaming, preadolescent girls of whom I was one. It was just packed.  And, we bought those records en masse.  We just absorbed this group.  It’s different than Elvis— Elvis kinda belonged to everybody.  In a way, The Beatles, I thought were ours.  “We” being anybody that was 14 years old, give or take 7 years, when The Beatles arrived in America. [At the time Lennon was shot] nobody thought that The Beatles getting back together. But imagine, to use his word, what was ahead for us.  Lennon really had re-emerged as the musician with gifts for us. And so short— it was so brief, his return. When my first son learned to count (and I don’t remember being responsible for this), he'd go, 'One, two, three, four, can I have a little more.  Five six, seven, eight, nine ten, I love you.' Boy, they saw 'Yellow Submarine' a lot. And now my children do not acknowledge that The Beatles are mine. They’re universal now."

Viewer e-mails
When the Beatles first came to America, I was 10 years old, in the 4th grade. My older sister and I begged our Mom to take us to see them. And she did! Three years in a row we went, to Chicago, Kansas City and our hometown of St. Louis. I remember waiting outside Busch Stadium after the show trying to catch a glimpse of them leaving in the limosine. In Kansas City, our seats were behind a TV camera - I was one of the "hysterically crying" fans they showed on the news. And my ,om still has the movies she took on her now-ancient Brownie movie camera! Oh, how we loved them, and still do. I think we all died a little the day John was killed. The rose colored glasses came off. Yes, life went on, but it was never quite the same. And all these years later, I still ache at the loss of what could have been. The world still misses you, John. Peace. --Patty Ernst, St. Charles, Mo.

I was only 6 years old when John died, but having grown up in a home where the Beatles were loved, and often played, I was still very aware of what his death meant and was very sad. I remember my aunts going to local candle lit viguals in near by parks in Los Angeles and wanting to go. I am still a huge Beatles and John fan, who throughout the years have gotten to know the man I could not meet through his works both written and painted. His memory and legacy will live on longer than I think his killer intended, and the "stardom" his killer sought after, died that night with John Lennon. John... you will always be loved and missed.... --your friend and fan Jennifer Green

While I was too young to realize what the world lost on that tragic day, I continue to feel the emotion from the songs that John Lennon sang, and the words of his solo career. I feel that his words are timeless, and almost prophetic to his own life. While the world is constantly changing, the respect for a life taken too soon will remain steadfast. We were robbed of a man with a spirit and an influence that was contagious, and for that, I am forever sorry. --Elaine Grimes, Cary, N.C.

The loss of this man still hurts as much today as it did 25 years ago. In 1980, I was 17 and had been first experiencing the Beatle albums slowly and chronologically since the previous summer. I found out John died the morning of the 9th on my way to classes. I strove to complete my Beatles and Lennon album collection ASAP, and it took nearly 6 months as the stores just couldn't keep them all in stock for that many months after. As much as the Beatle catalog influences me and still inspires my creativity, John's "Plastic Ono Band" album truly revealed his individual genius. This album showed the true soul of the man, raw and uncensored. This album was him letting go of of The Beatle period and releasing his lifes pain. John will always have an impact on me, may we never forget his message. --Pete Gentile, Hudson N.H. 

The day John Lennon was taken from us I had just turned 10. It came across the bottom of our TV screen. At that time, I felt as my life ended also. I have never felt that same kind of emptiness and I hope never too. John was my inspiration and a big part of my soul. As long as his music is still with me, I continue to live with the hope that maybe one day the world will learn. --Star Dixon, Mesa, Ariz.

Of course John Lennon was a phenomenal human being. I learned to not take life so serious from him or not to fret the little stuff. For about 10 years, I could do a fairly good likeness of him. I even had a Asian girlfriend named Oko. It was great to go out and turn peoples heads briefly. It's about the music and his uncanny ability to be such an interesting person in our time of history. The idols of today seem rather manufactured in some warehouse in Hollywood and stamped "Made in China." John Lennon came out of the Post WWII era at a time when the world really could appreciate his unique ability to coin a lyric and set it to a great beat. --Thomas Nelson, West Jordan, Utah

When I was at the tender age of 13, I fell in love with John Lennon. To this day, 42 years later, I love him still. Not in the way I love my husband and son, but love nonetheless. From the first time I heard 'I want to hold your hand' in 1964, I knew something magical was happening. Lennon went on to be one of the most gifted song writers of modern day. The music surely died on December 8, 1980. --Melody, Richmond, Ill.

I am only 25 years old, but I am a big Beatles fan! I was raised on the music and I think Mark David Chapman was a coward. He robbed the world of the greatest singer/song writer/person we will ever see. John was right when he said "All you need is love."--Christine, Council Bluffs Iowa

I can trace the loss of my innocence to the moment I saw that terrible headline in the newspaper: "Beatle John Gunned Down." As a child, I was drawn to the combination of acid wit, candor and lyricism that made John Lennon stand apart from most other songwriters. He served as a model of what honesty in art could achieve. That headline ripped my heart out. If I had never seen the headline, I might have stayed a child forever. Even today, almost 25 years later, I can feel a little part of me die each time I remember seeing the news. But then I'll play one of his songs and damn if I don't feel like I can march right out and change the world. Thanks, John, old friend. --Craig Belanger, Avondale, Ariz.

I was a true Beatle fan. But, John Lennon was my favorite as he had that truly wicked sense of humor that I admired even as a 12 year-old. I saw the Beatles at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville Florida. My late father drove 5 screaming girls to the show. I was working on cruise ships in the Caribbean when I saw the newspaper that he was dead. I cried. --Sharen Repetto, Jacksonville, Florida

I was living in Longview, Wa. When I heard the news of his death. It was devastating. I was hooked on the Beatles from the moment i heard "Love Me Do". John & Yoko's "Give Peace A Chance" was the greatest proposal for a solution to the war in Vietnam. I believe he touched most everyone's life of my generation and will continue to have influence on many more lives for many years to come. --Mark Coy, Decatur, Ala.

Driving to work the next morning (Cleveland Ohio), Heard it on the radio and thought the DJ was into some sick kind of joke until I realized he was very emotional. I was stunned. Took the day off. Been into music since I was 9 (born 1953), and lived the British invasion. Beatles today are still number 1 in my book. --Jeff Masch, Aurrora, Ohio

I was 20 years old, at work, when I found out about John Lennon's death. The grief was profound, devastating. I ran downstairs to a news stand to buy a copy of Playboy, so I could read the interview that had just come out. I felt an innate need to connect with his words and personality one last time. A piece of my life had just been ripped away and dissipated into the wind. I grieve the possibilities of what will never be and I cherish the catalog of work he left behind. I will never forget him or that day. --Tracy Bartell Harper, Longwood, Fla.

I was 9 years old when John Lennon was killed. I remember telling my mom in a car, "John Lennon died today." She was driving and had to pull over because she was crying so hard. I couldn't understand, at the time, why she was so upset, until I became older, and could understand the impact that his life had on the world. --Elaine M. Rissel-Muscarella, Jamestown, N.Y.

What can you say of a genius who is gone but never ever forgotten today or yesterday, but to honor his memory with loving thoughts and to seek his peace with much imagine. I will never stop listening to his music and their messages, because they did change my life, at a time of no assurance, he helped us believe in others and ourselves, with the dear messages from his heart to ours. 1967 when i graduated from high school i felt strength from his music and the beatles also, this was a time of pure harmony,and love thy neighbor, for sure! Where did it go?? --Ruthe de la Rosa, Palm Springs, Calif.

I am only 17 years old and unfortunately was not able to be apart of the days when John Lennon was alive. My dad, being from England, introduced me to the Beatles when I was only seven. As I started listening to more and more of my parent's vinyl records of the Beatles, I instantly loved John's voice and technique. One day I asked my mother if John would be coming out with any more albums? And she sadly responded,"No sweetie. He was shot by a very bad man." I broke down. I cried for days.I had lost the man and his music before I really had it. That Christmas, I received my first guitar. The next day I bought two beginner guitar books filled with John Lennon songs. Through the years my love for his music and life keep growing. He has inspired my own music and writing.My generation needs a man,a musician, a poet like John Lennon. I would like to say that time heals the heart. But in John's case, it doesn't. You can't help but think about the music he could have made or the views he could have shared. He meant so much to so many people.And through our memories and love, John Lennon will always SHINE ON!  --Chelsea G., Dubois County, Ind.

He is and will be my lifelong hero.The reason of it is his "Imagine". I regarded that song the best of 20th century or probably timeless best, but not one of the bests; it is the best. This song is not stand for a person, but for all the mankind. May be it's a fantasy, but this one is full of compassion, love, and far sighted. I am 5 years younger than my hero. I salute him as a younger brother. As a Buddhist I pray his message should roam every corner of the universe and make all beings afresh with hope and love! --Nyunt Shwe, Tokyo, Japan

As the 25th anniversary of the violent and senseless death of the man of peace and love; John Lennon; approaches,I can`t help but imagine how sad and disappointed he would be in the state of affairs of this world and our government. Being a 31-year-old mother of two young sons in 1980, I told them stories of my revered Beatles and John Lennon`s activism. He was my proxy,since I was stuck in Nebraska and felt unable to carry on the work of letting the world know how important peace and love was.He carried on for me and then he was gone -- But never gone from the hearts of those of us who knew he was a man of love and peace, a beacon for mankind.His music will always go on and he will live forever. --Beverly Fisher, Mesa, Ariz.

I watched your program tonight. I was 12 years old old when Lennon died. And I have ALWAYS been a Beatles, and Lennon (solo) fan growing up, thanks to an older brother and sister. I will never forget "the day the music died." Everytime a see anything about Lennon's death, it's just like hearing it for the first time. Lennon changed the world.There is not one musical performer, that I can think of anyway, that will not say that the Beatles, and / or Lennon inspired them to go into music,and changed their life, forever. I know they changed mine. He will live on forever in all our hearts untill the end of time. And I hope Mark David Chapman rots in jail for the pain he caused on all the world. --Julie Ross, Washington Court House, Ohio

Even though I knew how this story ended, I found myself wanting to change it. I was pregnant with my daughter at the time and had always been a Beatle Fanatic. At 6, I begged my parents to let me stay home from church the Sunday night that the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan. I could hardly bear to see the ending of the show, and realized I had 'blocked out' exactly when I heard the news (that I now remember watching that night)because I became so upset and was worried it might affect my baby. I have now been crying for about 30 minutes; truly cathartic experience. What a loss and a tragedy. --Patti Ellis, Atlanta, Ga.

I was 13 years old in 1980. My brother was a huge Beatles fan. I listened to his Beatles records regularly. While other kids my age knew all of the recent Disco hits of the late 70's, I knew the words to every Beatles song. Before John Lennon died, I was already wearing out my copy of Double Fantasy. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and I remember watching the news before going to bed on December 8th. The breaking story was that John Lennon had been shot. I tried to stay up, but couldn't. The next morning, my clock radio turned on, and "I Feel Fine" was playing. The announcer came on after the song ended and said "One of the songs by the late John Lennon." I absolutely froze. I believe that was the day that the innocense of my childhood had ended. It didn't make any sense to me as a 13 year old kid, and it still doesn't today as a 38 year old adult. Knowing what a free spirit John Lennon was, the best thing to do on this unfortunate anniversary is to celebrate his life and his music. I'll be playing all of my Beatles and John Lennon CD's on December 8th.  --Steve Gliner, Fort Myers, Fla.