Dec. 8, 1980 is one of those dates that you’ll always remember
exactly where you were and what you were doing when you heard. At
least I will.
I was at the Kingdome , sitting between
Chuck Stark and Roger Underwood ,
covering a Sonics game (I can’t resist pointing
out that the Kingdome and the Sonics both are gone, but Chuck,
Roger and I all are still kicking). Before the game started, the
Sonics’ media-relations director, Nancy Welts ,
walked up in front of us and said, quickly, "Did you hear? They got
That’s all she said. But somehow, we knew exactly who she was
talking about. "John," of course, was John Lennon
, who had been assassinated a couple hours earlier outside his New
York apartment. "They" as it turned out, was Mark David
Chapman , a deranged person who shot Lennon five times in
(I know I’ve told this story before, so if you’ve read it
before, stop me …)
The game, of course, was a blur. I don’t remember writing the
story, but I do remember being in a hurry, so I could drive home,
stopping at the neighborhood 7-Eleven along the way to pick up a
copy of a certain men’s magazine, which I remembered included a
lengthy interview with Lennon. I recall there were teenaged kids
sitting on the floor of the 7-Eleven (the hip place to be in
downtown Kent on a chilly 1980 midnight, I guess). I had to step
over them to get to the magazine rack.
(Incidentally, I would never purchase such a men’s magazine
under normal circumstances. You believe me, don’t you?)
I have no particular memory of where I was or what I was doing
years later, when I heard of the passing of George
Harrison . In fact, I think I might have been here in the
Sungeon, and read a bulletin from The Associated Press.
I think it probably hurt worse to lose George, because he was
such a gentle, quiet soul, and because he was taken at such a young
age by more-or-less natural causes. It reminded me very much that I
myself was no spring chicken any more.
The way Lennon went — gunned down by a crazed "fan" — almost
makes sense, when you look back on it 28 years later. Lennon was
such a larger-than-life character, he just wasn’t meant to die a
quiet, natural death.
Back then, though, it was shocking. This was John, remember —
all you had to do was say "John," and everybody knew who it was you
were talking about.
So, where were you when you heard?
More later … — MM