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The Last Year of His Extraordinary Life
Michael Ochs ArchivesGetty Images
Nineteen-eighty was a year of reemergence for John Lennon. He had spent the last five years mostly removed from the spotlight, dedicating himself full-time to raising his son, Sean, alongside his wife, Yoko Ono. In 1980, the year Lennon turned forty, he recorded a comeback album, Double Fantasy, which was released weeks before his death.
About that death: Around 5 p.m., on December 8, 1980, Lennon and Ono left their home at The Dakota, a historic apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side overlooking Central Park, for a recording session. He signed an autograph on his way out for a man named Mark David Chapman. When Lennon and Ono returned shortly before 11 p.m., Chapman was waiting outside, where he shot Lennon. He was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead on arrival. An outpouring of grief, public and private, followed as the world mourned his death.
These photos from the year 1980 show Lennon busy, happy, and in the company of Ono. They also hint at the scale of grief his death sparked. His life made a profound impact on the world, which is felt four decades after his untimely death.