An Assassination Avoided
After finishing a song at Record Plant Studios in New York, John Lennon and Yoko Ono returned to their apartment at the Dakota on December 8, 1980 at 10:50 p.m. in order for Lennon to say goodnight to his son Sean before going to bed. The couple exited their limousine on 72nd Street, with Ono walking ahead of Lennon, watched by Mark David Chapman, a man who had a record autographed by Lennon earlier, in the shadow of the archway. Ono saw Chapman out of the corner of her eye as she passed and cried out, causing Chapman to leap out of the archway and fire five times with a revolver loaded with hollow-point bullets. Lennon pushed Ono out of the way and the pair fell to the sidewalk, four of the bullets missing them with the fifth striking Lennon's shoulder. Concierge Jay Hastings called the police as the doorman wrestled Chapman (who had tried to flee the scene) to the ground. Lennon was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital in his limo, spending days there in surgery and recovery. News reporters surrounded both the hospital and the police station where Chapman was being held as the world waited in trepidation for information on Lennon's health, the tension increasing as the other three ex-Beatles visited Lennon. On December 19, Lennon exited Roosevelt Hospital, his arm in a sling, as he answered the press' questions about his almost- death and would-be assassin, saying he'd only given Chapman an autograph and hoped that Sean was not too worried. Later, Lennon debated with Ono, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and Paul McCartney on how to deal with Chapman's acts; Lennon settled on charging him with assault, battery and attempted murder. This was made public news a couple days later.
Chapman was charged and sent to Bellevue for psychiatric examination, where he was found delusional but competent to stand trial. Later, a massive group of Lennon's fans stormed the hospital in outrage, throwing stones and threatening to lynch Chapman. Police came to break up the mob, but Lennon arrived at the scene, wanting to talk to Chapman. He helped establish peace by speaking with the mob and eventually causing them to withdraw before entering the hospital to speak to his attacker. Lennon and Chapman spoke for an hour, with Lennon trying to establish why Chapman had tried to kill him. Lennon left Bellevue and briefly spoke to reporters, mentioning how Chapman seemed calm, but "there was a distinct sense that the man was completely off his chair". Lennon also mentioned how Chapman said he tried to kill him due to Lennon's perceived disrespect for both God and the Beatles and that he would plead guilty to the charge levied against him. In January, 1981, Chapman's attorney protested Chapman's decision, calling attention to his possible mental instability. However, the presiding judge found Chapman competent and, with testimony from psychiatrists, Ono and Lennon, sentenced Chapman on August 24, 1981 to 15-20 years in prison and order him to receive psychiatric care during that time. Lennon and Ono again took reporters questions outside the courthouse and spoke directly to the fans, telling them not to "get hung up on the poor sod."
Lennon's assassination attempt was forevermore known as "the Dakota Incident". Fans marked December 8 as a solemn day of reflecting on what might have been and December 19 as a day of rejoicing at the recovery of their idol. The shooting caused the Beatles to reevaluate the reason for their separation and all four agreed on one last tour together, using both old and new songs. Ono was also let in on the event, healing her relations with the other Beatles and contributing some excellent material. The tour was named "Phoenix" and began on the anniversary of the band's formation in 1984, the first venue to be played in Liverpool, England. The tour lasted for several weeks as the band played its material, recycling their iconic outfits during the tour before playing the last run in wildly different clothing. Fans were overjoyed with the concert, praising the Beatles new songs and causing the group to make the final jump into reconstructing the band. This was made official on Monday March 17, 1986.
The Beatles Reborn
After the official announcement of the recreation of the band, The Beatles (now including Ono) began to start to produce new albums, the first one called Doppelganger (1987), a seething indictment against Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, drawing parallels between the two. This caused vehement criticism from both governments, the loudest being from the Reagan Administration. The Beatles laughed it off in the press, with Paul stating, "It's like coming home to an old friend." The next major album was called Sakura (1989), the music bound by an East Asian theme with several contributions from Ono. Ono jokingly remarked, " I hope this will be a sufficient apology for those who thought I broke up The Beatles." Over the years The Beatles returned to form, producing more albums, with most of the songs having a political tint to them, but still keeping within the light bounds of The Beatles' work. The greatest mix of pop and political commentary came in the form of Stained (1997), poking at the Clinton Administration's poor policies and the Republican Party's insistent harassment against the president. In 1997 though sadness came upon the band when guitarist George Harrison was diagnosed with throat cancer, although with the help of his fellow Beatles he vowed to battle his illness to the end. "The amount of ire we've drawn might be enough to destroy the universe!" Harrison ribbed as a flood of criticism was drawn against the Beatles from both sides. As usual, The Beatles took it in stride and went on singing. However, the death of McCartney's wife Linda was a terrible blow to the group, influencing their next album in 1998 entitled The Tattered Veil.
The Beatles and the 21st Century
2001 was not a good year for The Beatles. Beginning in 1998, the melancholic turn had caused a significant drop in the group's popularity. This combined with the American right's attacks on The Beatles saw a shift in the group's standing in America. This was compounded in 2001 when the group spoke out against George W. Bush's presidency, with Lennon and Harrison outright saying that Bush had bought his way into office. Lennon remarked, "If Clinton could get knocked off his plinth after a blowjob, it should be even easier to whittle down this wanker." The media firestorm was tremendous, silenced only by the aftermath of the September 11th Attacks. The Beatles tried to get an album out in remembrance of the attacks, but it was immediately shot down in America as being nothing but "propaganda against the President." The album went on hold. The greatest shock came in the death of Harrison, who finally succumbed to lung cancer. All The Beatles tearfully bade their friend goodbye as his ashes were scattered along the Ganges River. In early 2002, the album that had been shelved away was released with a different track list as Smoky Tears, a concept album about suffering great loss but moving on with hope for the future. In 2004 the Beatles just decided to split apart and go there own way. The Beatles continued to create albums, one of the most notable coming from a charity performance done especially for raising money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They were one of the major forces in the campaign of President Barack Obama, one of their most recent albums showcasing a song called used in the campaign itself.