What We Heard on the Night John Lennon Was Shot: Radio & TV (December 8, 1980)

On Decem­ber 8, 1980, the New Eng­land Patri­ots-Mia­mi Dol­phins game was wind­ing down, the end of anoth­er Mon­day Night Foot­ball game. Then, Howard Cosell, America’s leg­endary sports­cast­er, broke the news to unsus­pect­ing view­ers: “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.” Soon enough, more for­mal news reports fol­lowed on the BBC and ABC’s Night­line, and you can still hear what New York­ers heard on the radio that night (below). The sound file was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed by WFMU’s Beware of the Blog, and like Howard says, it puts a lot of things in per­spec­tive for us.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

John Lennon’s Raw, Soul-Bar­ing Vocals From the Bea­t­les’ ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ (1969)

Hear John Lennon Sing Home Demo Ver­sions of “She Said, She Said,” “Straw­ber­ry Fields For­ev­er,” and “Don’t Let Me Down”

John Lennon & Yoko Ono’s Two Appear­ances on The Dick Cavett Show in 1971 and 72

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Comments (5)
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  • Allan Rosenberg says:

    One of the tough­est, sad­dest mem­o­ries of my life. It was like los­ing a fam­i­ly mem­ber.

    Capt. Al

  • M.-R. Stringer says:

    What that radio lis­ten­er says is just … total­ly apt. To think that soci­ety can pro­duce a scum­bag like what­ev­er his name is (and yes, I have for­got­ten it) should give every one of us pause. It’s not that John Lennon was a tru­ly great per­son in him­self; but in his music, he was among the very great­est.

  • Mark Sherman says:

    I was watch­ing that game, and the news was unbe­liev­able enough, but to hear it for the first time in that con­text was just bizarre. I lit­er­al­ly sat there and asked myself, “Did he just say what I think he said?” Once it set in, I went to the phone and called my friend, who I knew would be asleep, and he thought I was pulling his chain.

    I wish.

  • Susan Clarke says:

    The last thing I heard before I went to sleep on Sun­day night was that John Lennon had been killed. The next morn­ing, very ear­ly, I tucked my 3 year old into the back­seat of my Fiat, with blan­ket and pil­low, because it was extreme­ly cold. I drove off into the fog, which became more dense and dan­ger­ous as I drove. On a coun­try road, the next and last thing I saw in front of us was the tail lights of a semi-truck. I knew I was toast, and I reached back with my hand and shout­ed to my son “stay down.” For­tu­nate­ly, my car came to a stop, under the semi, at the wind­shield. Any fur­ther and I would have been a gonner. Next thing I knew I’m in the emer­gency room, face and scalp cut very bad­ly, bro­ken ster­num and shoul­der blade, and then admit­ted into the hos­pi­tal for 5 days. My son was not hurt in the acci­dent, thank God! I was on pain meds for days, and final­ly on the 4th night I asked for Tylenol instead of Demor­al. The next morn­ing the first thing I thought of when I woke up clear head­ed, for the first time in days, was “Oh my God, John Lennon is dead.” That time in my life was very trau­mat­ic, and I will always remem­ber three things from it, John Lennon was killed, although ter­ri­bly injured, my life was spared, and my son remained unscathed!

  • Alan Tompas says:

    I was at Kent State watch­ing Mon­day Night Foot­ball when the news broke. I always want­ed to hear my home­town radio sta­tions cov­er­age. Near­ly 40 years lat­er I final­ly get to hear it.

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