Song: “(Just Like) Starting Over” by John Lennon
Reached #1: December 27, 1980 (his second, 5 weeks)
This was supposed to be just like starting over for John Lennon.
He’d just released Double Fantasy with Yoko after taking 5 years off from recording to help raise his son Sean. The Beatles had been gone for 10 years now. It was time to start his recording career over, and establish just who John Lennon was going to be.
Then came one horrible Monday night in New York City.
The irony, of course, is that most Americans heard about Lennon’s murder through a coincidence.
A news producer for New York’s ABC station, WABC-TV, had a motorcycle accident that same night (December 8, 1980) and had been taken to Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan. He saw Lennon brought into the hospital and immediately called the station, which quickly got the word to ABC News boss Roone Arledge.
With 30 seconds or so left in the Monday Night Football game between Miami and New England, Howard Cosell was instructed by Arledge to release the news that ABC had confirmed (this would have been about 30-40 minutes after Lennon was declared dead at the hospital)…
Yes, we have to say it. Remember this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses. 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. Hard to go back to the game after that news flash, which, in duty bound, we have to take.
When you ask why Cosell, and not an interruption from ABC News, keep in mind that Cosell had interviewed Lennon on Monday Night Football several years earlier. I suppose that factored into it…
Anyway, you have to wonder what the 72-year-old John Lennon would think of today’s world… one in which his “Imagine” is sung without a second thought by Christians who miss its atheist message and political wonks who miss its socialist leanings… one in which “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” is just another Christmas carol… one where there is no peace, and no sign of it…
He’d have had a lot to say.
It’s a shame we never heard it.
Tomorrow, we turn from someone taken by a real-life madman to a fictional crazy woman…
Other songs that reached #1 on December 27:
1969 – “Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross & the Supremes (their twelfth, 1 week)
1975 – “Let’s Do It Again” by the Staple Singers (their second, 1 week)