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Monday, December 8, 2008

John Lennon in Greenwich Village

Today (December 8, 2008) marks the 28th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. Lennon was killed in front of the Dakota on Central Park West, which had been his home for many years. But when he and Yoko Ono first moved to the city in 1971, they lived first at the St. Regis Hotel and then in Greenwich Village at 105 Bank Street, which they rented from the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Joe Butler.

The Bank Street apartment became a magnet for the Lennon’s political and social scene and their friends included Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, Alan Ginsberg, actor Peter Boyle, and a host of musicians. While their life in the West Village afforded them the relative anonymity that most New York celebrities enjoy, life was not without its hairy moments. According to Jon Wiener’s book Come Together, a former tenant in the apartment burst in one night with his henchmen and robbed the place, taking the Lennons’ art, color television (which John begged them to leave behind), wallet, and address book. It was the address book that was most valuable to John and word was put out on the street that it better be returned or “Bobby Seale’s people” (aka the Black Panthers) would exact revenge. The address book was ultimately returned and Lennon evidently was delighted by the whole incident.

In 1973, John and Yoko moved to the Dakota where, coming home from the studio in 1980, Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman, a deranged fan. ABC has some good archival footage online of the day after the murder.

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More about John Lennon and Strawberry Fields, his memorial in Central Park, can be found in Inside the Apple.

105 Bank Street is also a stop on our Rock and Roll tour, produced by and narrated by DJ Ken Dashow. It is available for download today.


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