“Remember this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses. An unspeakable tragedy confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous perhaps, of all of The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead on arrival. Hard to go back to the game after that news flash, which, in duty bound, we have to take. Frank?”
The exact words Howard Cossell would announce to viewers 34 years ago this Monday evening, on December 8, 1980, as the New England Patriots would battle the Miami Dolphins in a huge game on Monday Night Football. It was during the waning moments of the 4th quarter as the Patriots we’re attempting a game winning field goal when Howard Cossell would do the uneviable task of announcing to the viewers that former Beatle John Lennon had been shot outside the Dakota Apartments in New York City as he was returning home from a recording session. Just six years prior, Cossell had interviewed John Lennon during halftime on Monday Night Football…
There are so many way’s to describe how the music of The Beatles and John Lennon has to this very day touched so many peoples lives. The influence that Beatlemania had was so huge and so rapid that The Beatles we’re the first rock n roll band to perform live concerts at Major League Baseball venues, performing at Shea Stadium in 1964 and evnetually performing their 2nd to last ever live performance at Dodger Stadium in August of 1966.
Here is a 2010 clip from ESPN’s Outside The Lines reflecting upon the ill-fated night of December 8, 1980…
At the time Cossell announced to the viewers the untimely death of John Lennon on that ill-fated evening of December 8, 1980, it was not possible for people around the world to have known the news right away. There we’re only 3 major networks at the time, but most notably, in 1980, we didn’t have such things as ipads or droids among other electronical devices that we take for granted today. There was no way fans could have shared their feelings at that very moment with fellow family and friends as we do today with the ever so endless social media outlets available in our pockets.
So of course it was impossible for the 75,000 plus fans at the Orange Bowl to have been aware of what happened to the famed Beatle. I can only imagine that if an event of this magnitude had taken place today during a huge sporting event, be it MNF or the World Series, what the mood would be like inside the venues. Would many of us be on a emotional roller coaster of excitement of being at a huge sporting event while hiding the somberness on our minds, knowing that someone who had a profound impact on us has passed on ? I’m sure many of us would be paying instant tributes throughout the world of social media.
I’ve heard many people talk about the night John Lennon was assassinated, putting it in the same sentence of the tragic assassinations of King and Kennedy. To many, the night John Lennon was killed marked the end of an era . I was not around when King and Kennedy we’re shot, and I was only 6, in the beginning stages of being a Dodger fan. ( I’m also trying to put some light into this folks…). I don’t really recall where I was the night John Lennon was shot, however I do remember various radio stations playing continuos music from The Beatles during the week as it was played in our house in Hollywood.
Do any of you recall where you we’re the night of December 8, 1980 ? Did you find out while watching MNF ? We’re you putting up a Christmas tree when the news was announced ?
Happy Christmas…. Someday, War will be over….