The First Time I Saw John Lennon

As I was walking by the living room, the television was turned on and I stopped dead in my tracks.  Four young British guys with long hair, bangs hanging down into their eyes, dressed in suits with no collars, playing fabulous music, caught my attention.  This was the first time I ever heard of or saw the Beatles.

I saw it on a five-minute news segment by Dwayne X. Riley on Detroit-area television in the early 1960’s.  His short news stories aired on TV right after another five-minute arts and crafts segment by Carol Duvall. I believe that the Riley segment was called something like, “Here’s Something New.”  On this day, the Beatles were the Something New.

I was seven or eight years old at the time and neither of these TV shows normally appealed to me.  But these four British guys hooked me and millions of other young people into a lifetime of rock and roll addiction.  It was an instant attraction that never wavered.  The Beatles were just past their teen years themselves, but seemed very mature to this elementary school kid.

Nearly 20 years later, I was once again stopped in my tracks with the death of 40-year old John Lennon in 1980.  I was newly married, but still young myself.  It was shocking, senseless and sad.

Many years later in 2001, George Harrison would die at the age of 58. “When I’m 64” was a milestone that only half the group members would make.

Now this December marks the thirtieth anniversary of John Lennon’s death.  This hardly seems real.  I was just walking by that TV when I saw him; young, attractive, with a lifetime of success in front of him. Time gave him half a lifetime.

“Well we all shine on,” John Lennon wrote in Instant Karma.  To me, his spark still burns bright.


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