Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

20 Years Later, Lennon's Memory Lives On

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

20 Years Later, Lennon's Memory Lives On

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- Sitting inside her office at the Dakota apartments, a stone's throw from the spot where her husband was mortally wounded two decades earlier, Yoko Ono considers the question:

Imagine John Lennon at 60?

There's a pause. A long pause.

"I think he was always innovative," she finally says. "I think he would have jumped into the Internet. Also, his music was very funky and punky -- the rap kind of thing."

There's a shorter pause, and her voice grows lively.

"You can almost see that John would have done that," she continues. "I'm sure he would have been the first white rapper. Or the second, maybe."

Lennon as Eminem? A bespectacled Lennon downloading MP3s from the Internet? Lennon, gray-haired and gray-bearded, dueting with Fred Durst?

It's pure speculation 20 years after a demented Beatlemaniac killed Lennon with five gunshots on Dec. 8, 1980. It's also something that Ono, who watched in horror as her dying husband collapsed, lives with every day.

"I miss the laughter, you know?" the 67-year-old widow reflects. "He made me laugh, especially at times when things were very difficult."

To the world at large, John was never the funny Beatle -- that title belonged to Ringo. Paul, even at 58, remains the cute Beatle, while George in his English mansion is ever the quiet Beatle.

Lennon, paradoxically, lives on as the dead Beatle -- fascinating but forever frozen in time: house-husband, father, reluctant rock star who spent five years watching the wheels go round with his new son, Sean.

This year, when Lennon would have turned 60, his work was ubiquitous. Nine Beatles-related books were introduced in the year 2000 -- from the authorized The Beatles Anthology, to a reissue of Lennon's verse In His Own Write, to a tome on the Beatles' dalliance with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

A compilation of the Beatles' 27 No. 1 hits, released in time for Christmas shoppers, landed atop the Billboard chart after selling nearly 600,000 copies in its first week.

Ono supervised re-releases of the first and last solo albums of his life, Plastic Ono Band and Double Fantasy. There was even a book from Lennon about Lennon: a 151-page pressing of his revealing 1970 interviews with Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner. "The dream's over," Lennon warned, 10 years before his death. "And I have personally got to get down to so-called reality."

JUST 'THAT GUY'

Even now, 20 years later, Yoko Ono cannot utter his name. She refers to him only as "that guy."

Mark David Chapman came from Hawaii to Manhattan in search of John Lennon. The chubby, deranged fan settled into a midtown hotel just a 20-block walk from the Dakota.

On the night of his death, Lennon and Ono were headed home from a Manhattan recording studio where they had worked on her Walking on Thin Ice single. …

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