John Lennon Special on PBS

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newyorkpostdecember91980 John Lennon Special on PBSAs we approach the “anniversary” (I HATE that term, but it’s accurate by definition) of [lastfm]Elvis[/lastfm]‘ death, I’d like to talk about the loss of another musical icon.  It seems unfathomable that [lastfm]John Lennon[/lastfm] was killed 30 years ago!  Anyone who was old enough remembers exactly where they were on December 8, 1980 when news broke.  PBS is going to air a special focusing on John Lennon’s life and solo career.  

(Courtesy of Gary LevinUSA Today)

John Lennon would have turned 70 in October, and December marks the 30th anniversary of the former Beatle’s death.

So PBS is marking the occasion with 2-hour Nov. 22 American Masters special that chronicles his solo career in the last decade of his life, which he spent in New York City with his wife Yoko Ono. It ended tragically, of course, when he was murdered by Mark David Chapman outside the Dakota, his apartment building on the Upper West Side.

But before that, there was plenty of music and good times. In interviews, recording-studio bandmates recalled his precision,collaboration, frequent changes and good humor as he recorded iconic songs such as Imagine and his final album, Double Fantasy. How he continued a practice, begun while a Beatle, how deliberately playing D notes out of tune on his guitar (back then, so his mother would recognize which guitar was his). And how he pulled back from recording for most of the last five years of his life to focus on raising his second son, Sean.

“He was a very astute artist, and a perfectionist,” Ono told TV critics Thursday. And “he loved New York so much. He said, ‘Well, I wish I was born here.'” And New Yorkers were kinder: “They did approach him in a very nice way,” whereas in London, “He had a very bad time becaue I was there. Everyone hated him for being with me.” (Ono is often blamed for the Beatles’ breakup).

The film includes audio from four or five recording sessions not previously heard. And producers found archival footage “I didn’t know existed,” Ono says. “There are many gritty moments in the film. Some parts of it were painful for me.” But “this is something John would have approved. It was a part of his life he really loved, because it was New York … It was his love, and also (the place of) his death.”

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