29 years ago today, Howard Cosell…

was the bearer of tidings I never would have suspected to come from him. There are events so seminal they stick with you. When Cosell paused during “Monday Night Football” to deliver the news of John Lennon’s attack, and shortly thereafter, of his death, it quickly became one of those “Where were you moments?”

Lennon had returned to the public eye just two months earlier with the release of Double Fantasy. It was a nice record. I don’t really remember much about the hype machine at the time other than Paul McCartney saying something like he felt John might not bother recording anymore. Called that putt a little soon there, Paulie.

Timing more than anything was the shocking thing. At 16, my tastes were forming in earnest and you became more aware of stuff that wasn’t necessarily getting played on the radio very often. It’s not cool to admit, but I drifted more toward Paul as a favorite when it was cooler to pick out John. I’m sure a few who actually said John did so for effect. Nevertheless, it was a big deal, bigger still to hear about it from such an unlikely news source. Regardless of who your favorite is/was, the Beatles continue to have that power. To lose somebody who provided part of your personal soundtrack in such a way is still baffling to me. The personal demons had always been an element in the Rock and Roll landscape. When Keith Moon passed two years earlier, I was just discovering the Who and didn’t have a fuller understanding as to his impact. Lennon was something else. You couldn’t hate the Beatles. That is like disliking Canada, who does that? Even my classical music preferring Dad has some Beatle favorites some in common with his mighty 11 year grandson. The proverbial tortured artist was in1980 pretty happy. Rolling Stone of course had an issue on it a few days later where he gave an interview that day mentioning my main musical hero, Bruce Springsteen, with a sense of admiration.

For whatever reason, I found myself watching the game alone that night. After getting the news, I watched a little bit of the coverage and just digested it. While it wasn’t a great shift in my day to day world, it was a thing. My mom has always quietly knew about what all was going on and relevant in our worlds and I remember coming downstairs the next morning and her first words were “Did you hear about…?” I told her, yes, Howard told me. But Mom understood.

That is Instant Karma


2 thoughts on “29 years ago today, Howard Cosell…

  1. And then there were others who picked John because he spoke for them best. If anyone had said “let’s go to Strawberry Fields” at the time I would have been gone.

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