John Lennon's death inspired and impacted the music in a way we'd never seen

Musician John Lennon was shot and killed on December 8, 1980, in both the immediate fallout and years since many musicians have featured songs honoring his memory.
Anniversary of John Lennon's Death in New York
Anniversary of John Lennon's Death in New York / Matthew Peyton/GettyImages

On December 8, 1980, former member of the Beatles, John Lennon, and his wife, Yoko Ono, left their residence at 5 p.m. ET to attend a recording session at the Record Plant. He would sign an autograph for Mark David Chapman, who, at 10:50 p.m. ET, would shoot Lennon twice in the back and twice in the shoulder. By 11:15 p.m. ET, Lennon was pronounced dead.

John Lennon, Yoko Ono
John's Joke Art / Ballard/GettyImages

Celebrity deaths have a strange way of influencing the world. After Lennon's murder, the album Double Fantasy, the album Chapman had Lennon sign, would top the charts in the US and the UK. In January 1981, "Imagine" reached No. 1 in the UK with "Happy Xmas" reaching No. 2. The single "Woman" from the Double Fantasy album would also reach the top.

After his death the music world honored Lennon with numerous songs or performances of his songs.

Elton John teamed with his lyricist Bernie Taupin to create the song "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)." In 1982, John, along with Ono and Sean Lennon, would perform the song to a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden.

Bob Dylan included "Roll On John" in his 2012 album Tempest with the line "They shot him in the back and down he went."

In 1981, Roxy Music covered "Jealous Guy" as their tribute to Lennon. This song was featured on Lennon's second album, Imagine.

On the third anniversary of Lennon's death, David Bowie would perform "Imagine" in his honor during the final show of his Serious Moonlight Tour. The pair worked together on Bowie's No. 1 single "Fame" in 1975.

Pink Floyd guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour included the song "Murder" on his 1984 album About face. The song was in response to Lennon's murder.

In the first recording since their time with the Beatles, George Harrison, Ringo Star, and Paul McCartney recorded a song written by Harrison in their band member's memory. The music for "All Those Years Ago" had been previously recorded, but Harrison would alter the lyrics as a personal tribute. McCartney included his tribute song, "Here Today," on his 1982 album Tug of War.

In the single "Old Hippie" The Bellamy Brothers mention Lennon's death.

"Yeh he gets off on country music
Abd Cause disco left him cold
He's got young friends into new wave
But he's just too frigging old
And he dreams at night of Woodstock
And the day John Lennon died
How the music made him happy
And the silence made him cry
Yea he thinks of John sometimes
And he has to wonder why"

The Bellamy Brothers "Old Hippie"

Paul Simon's "The Late Great Johnny Ace," featured on his 1983 album, Hearts and Bones, begins honoring the late R&B singer Johnny Ace and includes nods to John Lennon and President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated the same year Beatlemania began.

John Lennon
John Lennon / Michael Brennan/GettyImages

One day after Lennon's death, Queen performed "Imagine" to honor him in their concert held at Wembley Stadium. Freddie Mercury penned the song "Life Is Real (Song For Lennon)" as a tribute to Lennon. The song is featured on Queen's 1982 album Hot Space.

The Cranberries included the song "I Just Shot John Lennon on their 1986 album, To the Faithful Departed.

The night after Lennon's murder, XTC performed in Liverpool and sang "Rain," a Beatles song written by Lennon, and their own "Towers of London" in Lennon's honor.

Lennon will always be remebered for his talent to craft meaningful songs and his activism for political policies he believed in. He used his notoriety to voice his beliefs in his music and in his actions.

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