New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


Did you know NJ Stage offers FREE Event Listings? Nearly 100,000 listings were viewed in January. Be sure to add your events to our calendar and get your shows noticed!

Remembering John Lennon

By Gary Wien


"I just shot John Lennon," said Mark Chapman when the doorman at the Dakota asked him if he knew what he had just done. And just like that the sixties had ended. With one bullet, the world lost its greatest dreamer - a man that still inspires great debate to the day.

"I loved his music but wasn't thrilled with his commie loving politics," said one person while others praised him for his activism.

For me, John Lennon meant hope. Hope that something as simple as peace could be done if we really wanted it to happen. He was a dreamer, but most of us wanted to be part of that dream. Whether or not you grew up in the sixties or were born after he got shot, John Lennon's dream is still alive.

Hundreds of people will most likely be heading to Strawberry Fields in New York City on December 8th as they do every year. More people come on the "special" anniversaries like this one. "Has it really been 25 years," asked someone when I mentioned I was doing a story on John Lennon. It does seem like yesterday to many people.

"The night he was shot was devasting," recalled Richard Barone of the Bongos. "I was living in Hoboken, and all my friends back home in Florida were calling me all night -- knowing I was such a Lennon fan. My phone rang off the hook. A sad and unbelievable night. The next day we had to bring the first Bongos record master to the label for manufacturing, and I just kept thinking how, without John, I probably would never have had the inspiration as a kid to pick up a guitar in the first place."

For many people, the first notice came during Monday Night Football in a moment that ranks among Howard Cosell's most famous.

"I was watching Monday Night Football and I believe Howard Cosell announced that John Lennon had been shot and had died..." recalled Fran Smith, Jr. of the Hooters. "And I kinda went into a state of shock.. I don't know if I really ever got over it. I do remember my kids looking at me at the time saying ,AeoDad are you ok?' The rest of the night was a blur."

Music Journalist, Bob Makin recalls watching the game between his favorite team (Miami Dolphins) and the New England Patriots. "The Dolphins won, but the loss of John caused me to cry for two days. I was in 10th grade. My mother let me stay home from school for two days because I was so upset. I had just finished reading the Lennon biography and the large paperback The Beatles book by Schaffer if that's the right name. I was in a huge Beatles phase and anxiously awaiting John's first solo CD in a long time. And then, like everyone else, I was crushed."

Music fans just seemed to know how important Lennon was even if they weren't old enough to know much about the Beatles. John Lennon transcended music. He was a celebrity among celebrities and yet he lived one of the most open lives of anyone. Just as Bruce Springsteen roams freely among Monmouth County, Lennon roamed freely through the streets of New York City. The city was his home. He almost became more popular through the years he was "invisible." It's like the myth grew and grew. Maybe that's why people who were teenagers or younger felt a loss that day. They were connected to Lennon without even knowing it.

"My father got me my first clock radio, it was a Sony," recalled Mimi Cross. "I used to lie awake at night - you know - you could set the timer for an hour, and the radio would go off by itself. So I'd lie there for an hour listening every night - sometimes singing too. In the morning I'd wake up to music. The day that John Lennon was shot the news seemed to enter my mind while I was sleeping; because I woke up sobbing. My father and then my mother came running in ,AeoWhat's wrong, what's wrong?!' I said ,AeoJohn Lennon has been shot!' I was crying and crying. They couldn't believe it - they didn't believe it. But it was true. "

"That morning at school, I went to the principal, guess I took a friend or two along, and we asked if we could have a minute of silence for John Lennon before the morning announcements," continued Mimi Cross. "Our principal didn't want to do it. It seemed like a weird request I think. A large school, affluent suburbs...but this man, this white haired, conservative principal must have been moved after all - by events or by us - and we did have our minute of silence. December 8th, 1980."

Jon Caspi remembers hearing the news that "someone who may be John Lennon has just been shot" on WNEW. His school was also one who had a moment of silence the next day. "At school the next day they had a moment for John in which they played ,AeoHappy Xmas (War is Over)' - 25 years later I still cannot hear that song without thinking of John's death."

Lazlo of Blowupradio.com was only seven when Lennon was shot so he doesn't remember it clearly. "Years later I remember listening to Vin Scelsa on one of the anniversaries of John's death re-air some of the old WNEW tapes of their broadcast the day he died, and it jogged my memory...I listened to a lot of radio back then, but I think at the time I knew of John Lennon and the Beatles without really knowing their music...anyway, hearing those broadcasts re-aired, it sounded so familiar that I realized I must have sat there listening to it on my radio back in 1980, probably without really realizing the full impact of what it was I was hearing."

Colie Brice, founder of AERIA Records is a big fan of John Lennon. He recalls becoming obsessed with rock and roll at age 10 and begging his mother for more records. "She dutifully brought me down to the Platterpuss in Sayreville and bought me all the Beatles albums on the rack available that day - Sgt. Pepper, The White Album, Let It Be, and a Bootleg from the Star Club in Hamburg with "Shimmie, Shimmie Shake". I turned up the turntable and basically played "guitar" on a tennis racket all summer and had absolutely no tan. Later as a teenage fledgling musician myself I experienced an epiphany about my life's direction watching the film Imagine. The movie left me with the profound realization that life is so precious and fragile and yet we constantly take it for granted and get caught up in bull shit. John's life clearly illustrated the struggle we face between our selfish, ego based perceptions and the realization of a higher truth encompassing love, peace, and compassion. John Lennon was no Jesus Christ. He was a sinner! He could be drunk, violent, hypocritical, etc., yet like Christ, he had the courage to crucify himself standing up for his ideals. And he didn't have to... He was extremely successful and could have quite easily lived in his own utopian world - as most rock stars do. Instead he imagined a concept of Nutopia, a land with out borders for ALL people."

Brice talks about feeling Lennon's presence - almost as a guiding force in his life. Many Lennon fans feel the same way. I know I have. If there's a Heaven, he's the first person I'm looking up. He's been the inspiration for nearly every thing I do. I remember interviewing Val Emmich for the first issue of Upstage and talking to him about Lennon's songwriting. He said he loved how he took simple ideas like "I'm just a jealous guy" and made them work. I think that's what really makes people believe that Lennon was something more than just a musician. Nothing was ever stupid to him if it could accomplish positive things. Whether it was bed-ins to end war or purchasing billboards to promote peace or simply telling people to imagine the world was a better place. Hope was never lost with him.

"John Lennon to me was a renaissance man," said Fran Smith, Jr. "He could have been just as successful at anything he put his hand to... lucky for us it was music he created."

"John Lennon was an icon in life, and like Elvis and James Dean, became an even greater one after he passed on," added Richard Barone. "He was a hero -- who had survived Beatlemania and all the ups and downs of pop stardom, and came out on top -- only to be shot down at the doorstep of his own castle. His story is almost Shakespearean."

"What a visionary," said Bruce Tunkel of Redhouse. "Sadly, I'd say we're going to have to wait awhile for that vision to be realized."

It's hard to say what John would have done had he not been struck down by Chapman. His legend has certainly grown - as all who are struck down early have their legends grow - because of his death. But John finally seemed comfortable in his life and his music. Just listen to Double Fantasy and see how he was writing about love and family and starting over. As Richard Barone said, the ending is almost Shakespearean. Imagine being killed while your song about starting over would soon be climbing the charts.

"Lennon also was a courageous soul who wasn't afraid to speak his mind about what he believed in," added Bob Makin. "It's so sad that such an outspoken and influential critic of our societal ills was silenced. If he had been silenced for his outspokeness, he might have been a martyr whose example lived on like MLK and Gandhi. But because he was killed by a fruitcake, this isn't the case."

"He was a prophet, bard and a sage who came to this world to spread a timeless message about love and peace," said Colie Brice. "Why is it that every time somebody does that, they get killed?"

Rest in peace, John. We miss you. Twenty-five years... It's hard to believe.



For more by this author, click here






Arijit Singh's New North American Tour Will Include Single Stop In Tri-State Region At Prudential Center on April 13
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Bright Brain Productions, the leading entertainment company based in California announced the “Arijit Singh LIVE Tour” in 12 cities all across the U.S. This is the first of its kind and largest tour done by Arijit Singh or any Indian artist. The tour beings on April 5 and travels through major U.S. cities culminating on May 5.  The tour stops at Prudential Center in Newark on Saturday, April 13 at 7:00pm.
Light of Day's Main Event To Be Broadcast Live at McLoone's Supper Club
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- If you couldn't get tickets for the fabled "main event" of the 2019 Light of Day Winterfest, you have another chance see the show.  For the first time in the 19-year history of the festival, the "main event", the star-studded “Bob’s Birthday Bash” on January 19th (a show that has long sold out), will be broadcast live via fiber optic cable at McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts To Hold Winter Open House On January 27
(BERKELEY HEIGHTS) -- Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) will host a Winter Open House on Sunday, January 27 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The free event is open to the public and will be held at the Performing Arts School (PAS) located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights.
Billy Idol and Steve Stevens To Perform At Count Basie Center For The Arts
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, one of rock’s most iconic and enduring duos, will hit the road this March for their first ever tour performing as a duo: Turned On, Tuned In and Unplugged. The Billy Idol/Steve Stevens tour comes to The Count Basie Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 4th.
McDonald's Gospelfest To Celebrate The Life of Aretha Franklin With Return to Prudential Center
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The 37th Annual McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the Prudential Center on Saturday, May 11 for the gospel event of the year. This year's event will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin with an All-Star cast. The 5:00pm to 7:00pm portion of the evening will feature a rising stars competition for all ages and cultures in categories including Soloists, Choirs, Praise Dancers, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. The gospel concert, beginning at 7:00pm, will feature some of the most renowned gospel artists in music history with the goal of spreading love, peace and joy to all races, nationalities and beliefs.


Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
"He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
Mike Davis and The New Wonders
Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.
Ana Gasteyer's "Holiday Tipple" LIVE! at the Grunin Center
The Grunin Center stage in Toms River, NJ is set this Saturday, December 15, 2018 with drums, a grand piano, a guitar, an acoustic bass, and various microphones for vocals. A stool and several microphone stands are bedazzled with colorful garlands of shiny red, gold, and green, and wrapped gifts are strewn on stage among the instruments. Projected white snowflakes adorn the walls, and Christmas music plays as patrons enter the theater to put everyone in the mood for tonight’s holiday show — Ana Gastayer’s Holiday Tipple!










Event calendar
Friday, Jan 18, 2019


MUSIC

John Forster at the Minstrel @ Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, Morristown - 7:30pm

David Massengill - Folk Concert @ Christ Congregation Church, Princeton - 8:00pm

SAL "THE VOICE" VALENTINETTI @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

The Elvis Birthday Bash @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm


THEATRE

"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm

Annie Jr. @ The Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Some Girl(s) @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm







COMEDY

Big Apple Comedy Club @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm


MISC

The Jason Bishop Show to Benefit CASA @ Pfleeger Concert Hall, Rowan University, Glassboro - 7:00pm

View all events
























New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.