Three days before his death, John Lennon mused that he still had “plenty of time” to accomplish his life goals. But on December 8th 1980, crazed fan Mark David Chapman ended Lennon’s life outside of his New York City home, turning him into the “dead hero” he so badly did not want to become.
But all this is new information. As the world recently remembered John Lennon on the 30th anniversary of his death, Rolling Stone magazine released a never before heard or read interview that took place just three days before his assassination. The three hours of interview tape between Lennon and Rolling Stone reporter Jonathon Cott was left all but unused in the mayhem and rush to get a story out after Lennon’s sudden death.
“On a strip of magnetic tape, it was sort of a miracle that first of all, the tape had not degraded after 30 years,” Cott told AP when the interview was released. “All of a sudden, this guy’s voice, totally alive … just made me feel so inspired that I felt that I should really transcribe the whole thing.”
The interview reveals Lennon’s philosophical and reflective ruminations about life, as well as his animosity towards his critics.
“These critics with the illusions they’ve created about artists – it’s like idol worship,” he said. “They only like people when they’re on their way up…I cannot be on the way up again.”
But it was Lennon’s talk of “dead heroes” Sid Vicious and James Dean that proved most prophetic, despite his assertion that “I’m not interested in being a dead (expletive) hero…So forget ‘em, forget ‘em.”
At the time of the interview Lennon was aged 40 and he spoke of fatherhood, life, his accomplishments and his enduring belief in “peace, love and understanding” – ideas that are now synonymous with the Lennon message.
The timely release of the interview offers new insight into Lennon’s headspace at the time of his death and keeps the memory and celebration of Lennon going. 30 years on, those that are of Lennon’s time and those who have accessed his music online continue to pay tribute to one of the world’s most iconic and loved musicians with these fresh words and information.
Rolling Stone’s latest issue covering the full interview is available from magazine stands now.
Samantha Deavin writes for Sanity.