Today we pay tribute to Beatle John Lennon, who was on this day in 1980 shot to death outside his New York City apartment building. It is not the role of this On This Deity entry to heap upon Lennon’s tragically early demise even more tributes or slag-offs, but rather to note that – had Lennon been shot ten years earlier – the heading of this particular entry would have been more suitably titled “The Assassination of John Lennon”. Bed-ins, free festivals, protest singles, direct actions – you name it, the Lennons had between 1968 and 1973 represented it. That Lennon had in those immediate years prior to his death returned to “Civvy Street”, however, undoubtedly made him a suitable target for pissed-off radicals, right-wing lunatics or any number of former members of the counterculture who could have had it in for either of the Lennons and the Me Generation manner in which they bailed out of the revolution. In truth, however, Lennon’s killer was none of the above. Instead, he was no more than a Herostratus, here to burn down the temple, baste himself in its raging fires, re-baptised by the tears of the distraught followers. And perhaps that’s the final ignominy: that John Lennon’s life – having become politically meaningless – rendered him the victim not of the assassin’s enraged need for revenge, but to assuage a feeling of nothingness in a wholly nothing person – the entire amorphous and spineless mass that is No-Mark Chapman.
[Written by Julian Cope]