I was still a boy on February 9, 1964 when Ed Sullivan introduced the Beatles to North America. Throughout the following years, I followed them with great interest, and was influenced by not only their music, but their social statements.
When I began my drumming “career,” the Beatles were breaking up and were gone in less than a year after I started playing.
I began to follow the individual careers of the members, thinking George Harrison was finally getting his writing heard and Paul McCartney was reverting to a silly pop musician.
I was most intrigued however with John Lennon, and his neo-political statements that were heavily influenced by Yoko Ono’s Asian philosophies. “War is over... If you want it” was one of the greatest statements of that time. John began to challenge society’s norms, taking it upon himself to mount a campaign of Peace in unorthodox and controversial ways. The “bed-ins” staged by Lennon and Ono brought great attention to their beliefs and during interviews, they both expressed their ideas in passionate, articulate speech that revealed that they were more than just a pair of “freaks with too much money.”
John’s compassion toward others was evidenced when he would often take hangers-on outside his home in for a home cooked meal or a hot cup of tea on a cold day.
On December 8 1980, a deranged man fired five shots from a .38 calibre handgun and ended John’s campaign of Peace and in my belief, plunged our planet into a time of greater than ever violence and darkness. What could John and Yoko have done if his life hadn’t been so tragically ended? Would we now be witnessing wars in the Middle East, Asia, and South America? Would Peace have finally caught on as a lifestyle?
I remember where I was when I heard the news that John had died, and I remember the blank, empty feeling I experienced as the reality set in. I remember slumping shaking to the floor, and feeling alone and powerless in the darkness that night.
John once jokingly said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, (he later recanted that statement) and, like Jesus, his life was ended, far too soon.
On December 8, 1980, John Lennon took his place among Mahatma Ghandi, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, and many others whose only goal it seems, was to bring Peace to a race of hominids that seem so intent on killing each other off.
John, on the thirtieth anniversary of your departure of this Earthly plane, we miss you and need you in a way that has become urgent beyond your greatest fears.
Let us heed John’s words and practise them before we cause ourselves to become extinct.
“All you need is Love...”