When the world learned that John Lennon was gone

Music fans around the world grieved the loss of the popular Beatle, who was gunned down outside his apartment in New York City in 1980.

Fans went through 'shock, disbelief, then grief,' after learning of popular Beatle's death

The death of John Lennon

43 years ago
Duration 0:20
Featured VideoThe CBC's Knowlton Nash describes the mourning taking place after the death of John Lennon.

The news of John Lennon's death came so late at night that many of his fans didn't hear the tragic news until the next day.

The 40-year-old Beatles star died after being shot outside his New York City apartment building during the late evening of Dec. 8, 1980. 

In death, he left behind his wife, Yoko Ono, their five-year-old son, Sean, and his elder son, Julian, from his first marriage to Cynthia Lennon.

John Lennon also left behind the many admirers of his music in his hometown of Liverpool, England and elsewhere, including on this side of the Atlantic Ocean in Canada.

In this Dec. 9, 1980, file photo, a crowd gathers outside the Dakota apartment building after John Lennon, who lived there, was shot hours earlier in front of the building when returning home on the evening of Dec. 8. (Ray Stubblebine/The Associated Press)

The loss that those fans felt became a part of the story at the end of Lennon's life.

"Shock, disbelief, then grief: emotions experienced by millions of people around the world today, as they learned of the murder of John Lennon," the CBC's Knowlton Nash told viewers of The National on the day after the rock star was slain.

"But those who grieved did so not only for Lennon, the man who wrote music that changed music. They also grieved for the passing of an era."

'It blows my lights out'

Fans in Canada react to John Lennon's death

43 years ago
Duration 0:41
Featured VideoJohn Lennon's death hit his fans hard in Canada.

The story was the same whether it was people on the street talking about Lennon, or those calling into radio stations to talk about their grief.

"That's the first I heard it, man. It blows my lights out," said one man, who appeared to have just been informed of Lennon's death by the reporter.

John Lennon, seen here in a 1971 file photo, was just 40 years old when he was shot dead in New York in December of 1980. (The Associated Press)

Across the country in Vancouver, CBC cameras were present as a young woman talked about her grief on a radio show.

"I just feel so sick," the woman said. "I feel like I've lost something, you know?"

Featured VideoFans are distraught after music icon John Lennon is shot and killed outside his home in 1980. Imagine written by John Lennon, published by Lenono Music

In June of 1981, Mark David Chapman, the man who shot the musician, would plead guilty in his killing. Later that year, he received a sentence of 20 years to life.

Today, Chapman remains in custody in New York state. In 2020, he was denied parole for the 11th time, according to a published report from The Associated Press.

In this Dec. 10, 1980 file photo, a man adjusts one of the wreaths that cover the wrought iron front gate to the Dakota apartment building where John Lennon lived. (Lyndon Fox/The Associated Press)

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