From The Vault: Billy Joel Discusses The Night John Lennon Died

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Billy Joel with Paul McCartney

Billy Joel with Paul McCartney (Dave Hogan, Getty Images)

Thirty years ago today, on December 8, 1980, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]John Lennon [/lastfm] was shot and killed, the entire world mourned the loss of a man who accomplished so much as a musician, activist, and humanitarian. In his short 40 years, Lennon built a legacy that will live on forever.

Like John F. Kennedy’s assassination, or the terrorist attacks of 9/11, people can often recount exactly where they were when they heard the tragic news. [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Billy Joel[/lastfm] is one of those fans who remembers vividly. In a vintage 1985 interview, he tells a moving story about what he did when he first heard about Lennon’s death. See if you don’t find tears in your eyes as you listen.

[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Billy Joel[/lastfm] was a huge [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Beatles[/lastfm] fan, his favorite being [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]John Lennon[/lastfm]. As a kid, when he saw [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]The Beatles[/lastfm] perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, he decided right then and there to pursue a career as a musician. His start in music was forming a group called The Echoes, a British Invasion cover band.

Like everyone else who’d been touched by Lennon’s life and music, Billy was devastated when he learned of his hero’s death on December 8, 1980.

During an interview recorded in August of 1985 [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Billy Joel[/lastfm] talks with Scott Muni of New York station WNEW about his reaction to [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]John Lennon[/lastfm]‘s death:

The Nylon Curtain was the first [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Billy Joel[/lastfm] album after Lennon’s death. He goes on to talk about how he was heavily influenced by [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]John Lennon[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]The Beatles[/lastfm] while making the album:

Listen to Joel sing “Goodnight Saigon” from his 1982 album The Nylon Curtain.

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