John Lennon Death Anniversary: Fans Celebrate His Memory At Strawberry Fields Memorial 32 Years After New York Assassination

on December 08 2012 12:33 PM
John Lennon fans mourn his death decades later at Strawberry Fields Memorial in Central Park, NY
John Lennon fans mourn his death decades later at Strawberry Fields Memorial in Central Park, NY Wikipedia

Public fascination with John Lennon only seems to have increased since he was assassinated outside his New York City home 32 years ago on Dec. 8, 1980. The former Beatle and accomplished solo singer became an international symbol for peace and today is mentioned in the same breath as some of the most revered leaders and artists from around the world. The anniversary of his death on Saturday gave his adoring fans another day to celebrate his memory.

Many fans are likely to visit the Strawberry Fields memorial in Central Park on Saturday. The centerpiece of the landscaped display is the Imagine Circle, named for Lennon’s most famous song as a solo artist, "Imagine." The memorial almost always is decorated with a peace sign made of flowers and candles assembled by volunteers.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Strawberry Fields took on new meaning when it became a place of mourning and public prayers for peace. Strawberry Fields is filled with visitors every year on Lennon’s birthday (Oct. 9) and death (Dec. 8). In the summer the memorial is surrounded by flowers, and its designated quiet area is shaded by dozens of giant elm trees near the intersection of West 72nd and Central Park West. It sits in the shadow of the Dakota Building, where Lennon lived and was entering when he was shot by Mark David Chapman.

Chapman, who was later diagnosed as delusional at Bellevue psychiatric hospital, had become obsessed with Lennon and spent much of Dec. 8 lingering outside the Dakota, meeting Lennon’s doorman and familiarizing himself with the area. At one point, Lennon even signed a copy of his “Double Fantasy” album when Chapman approached him. Hours later, the autograph-seeker shot Lennon four times in the back.

England’s New Musical Express reported that Chapman's copy of “Double Fantasy” is now for sale online. A pedestrian outside the Dakota found the record during the chaotic hours that followed the shooting, and it was deemed a “crucial piece” of evidence by the New York district attorney at the time. Both Lennon’s signature and Chapman’s fingerprints have been preserved, and it will cost any morbid memorabilia seekers roughly $525,000.

Lennon is also remembered by his letters, which offer present-day fans the kind of insight about the man they never could have had during his life. A letter from Lennon to British guitar god Eric Clapton proposing that the two should collaborate is also up for auction. The letter's existence came to light recently after cranky notes between Lennon and ex-Beatle Paul McCartney surfaced.