Thirty-one years ago tonight John Lennon was gunned down in front of The Dakota Apartments in New York. Time hasn't diminished the influence Lennon has had, certainly to a generation that is getting older with each year since his passing.
But people born over the years following this night may look at it in the abstract. Tragedies and deaths of their own heroes overshadow the ones they aren't familiar with. They didn't grow up with John Lennon. We did. When he died an element of our youth went - that focal point we always thought we could point to suddenly was gone. Of course, in a period of time when no one seriously considered they would live past 30, Lennon's death at 40 still came as a shock We thought he'd be around well into his 80's or 90's, going after a full life like Frank Sinatra. We were looking forward to Lennon as the cantankerous old iconoclast - we had hoped.
But no. No guarantees in life, ever. And heroes are just as capable of having a short stay on this planet as anyone else. We went through that before with Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Brian Jones and Elvis Presley. They all left, we thought, way too early. We should have been used to it by 1980. But as we've found, death just isn't something you get used to. And how it happens is just never the way you imagine it. And maybe that was the biggest shock, listening to the reports coming in that night - that December 8th in 1980.
Here is a sampling of initial news reports and reactions, most from Los Angeles radio stations from that night.
Here's a reminder via KNX, KLOS and KMET from December 8, 1980.