Today marks the 34th anniversary of John Lennon’s assassination. He was shot to death in 1980 at the age of 40.
In memory of the icon, the hashtags #LennonForever and #RIPJohnLennon have been trending today, and Lennon memorials around the world have been showered in flowers and gifts. This weekend, Paul McCartney, now 72, spoke about his final memories of Lennon and the moment he received the phone call.
Although the headlines fixated on a bitter rift between the former bandmates at the time, McCartney explained that the real story was one of forgiveness and friendship. He and Lennon were able to make amends, bonding over fatherhood and “bread-making recipes” prior to his death.
“The story about the breakup, it’s true it’s not the main bit. The main bit was the affection,” said McCartney, on Saturday’s episode of The Jonathan Ross Show.
“I’m so glad, because it would have been the worst thing in the world to have this great relationship that then soured and he gets killed, so there was some solace in the fact that we got back together. We were good friends.”
He also described the moment he heard the news of Lennon’s assassination, visibly choked up and seemingly still in shock. “I just got a phone call.”
“It was just so horrific, you couldn’t take it in, and I couldn’t take it in. For days, you just couldn’t think that he was gone,” he said, recalling how difficult it was to pass the news on to his own wife and children.
“It was just a huge shock. For me, it was just so sad that I wasn’t going to see him again and we weren’t going to hang out.”
McCartney expressed that the toughest part to swallow the fact that killer Mark David Chapman’s actions were so random and senseless. “The phrase kept coming in my head – the jerk of all jerks,” he remembered. “It was just like, ‘This is just a jerk. This is not even a guy politically motivated, it’s just some total random thing.’”
Chapman remains in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in 1981. You can watch McCartney’s interview here.