On this day in 1980, the world lost a musical icon when John Lennon was tragically murdered outside his New York City home. Ever since, Beatles fans have pondered the hypothetical scenarios of what might have transpired with the band had he lived. A recently rediscovered 1975 interview with Lennon from the BBC archive provides intriguing clues.
On the fateful day of December 8, 1980, Lennon encountered his eventual assailant, Mark Chapman, twice. The first meeting occurred around 5 pm when Chapman approached Lennon, who had just finished a radio interview, asking for an autograph on the newly released album, Double Fantasy. Little did Lennon know that this seemingly innocuous encounter would later play a tragic role in the events of the day.
Later that night, Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, returned home but decided to walk towards the Dakota building instead of going to a restaurant. It was during this walk that Chapman, holding the signed album, confronted Lennon again. In a senseless act of violence, Chapman pulled out a handgun and fired multiple shots into Lennon’s back.
The murder sent shockwaves of disbelief around the world. The Beatles, more than just pop stars, had changed the cultural landscape with their music, experiments with various art forms, and their influence on a generation undergoing significant societal shifts.
The burning question that has haunted fans since Lennon’s death is whether the Beatles would have reunited to create more music had he lived. In a 1975 BBC interview, Lennon hinted at the possibility. The band had gone through a tumultuous breakup in 1970 after the Let It Be recording sessions, but by 1975, creative difficulties were mellowing.
Lennon had already collaborated with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, rekindling his friendship with Paul McCartney. He stated, “If we wanted to do it, then it would be worth it. If we got in the studio together and turned each other on again, then it would be worth it, sod the critics.”
Although Lennon’s untimely death denied the Beatles the opportunity to reunite in person, it wasn’t the end of their musical collaboration. Fourteen years after Lennon’s murder, Ono handed a demo tape of songs he wrote in 1978, marked “For Paul,” to the remaining Beatles. McCartney, Harrison, and Starr added their own touches to the tracks, resulting in the release of “new” Beatles singles: “Free as a Bird” in 1995 and “Real Love” in 1996.
In 2022, McCartney and Starr revisited a track called “Now And Then” that was initially abandoned due to poor recording quality. Using advanced technology, they enhanced Lennon’s voice from a demo cassette, adding instrumental parts and backing vocals. The final song, “Now and Then,” released in 2023, stands as a poignant testament to the enduring legacy of John Lennon and the Beatles.
While Lennon’s physical presence was tragically cut short, the echoes of his voice and the harmonious collaboration of the Beatles continue to resonate through the melodies of “Now and Then,” marking a bittersweet final chapter to a remarkable musical legacy.