Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


The Legacy of John Lennon

Aired December 8, 2005 - 19:00:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: I`m A.J. Hammer live at Central Park`s Strawberry Fields in New York City.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CO-HOST: And I`m Brooke Anderson. TV`s only live entertainment news show starts right now.


HAMMER (voice-over): Tonight, a live SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special event, the legacy of John Lennon in New York and across the universe. On this, the 25th anniversary of Lennon`s death, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT looks back, pays tribute and explores why all these years later, Lennon is still so revered as a musician and a man.

JOHN LENNON, MUSICIAN (singing): Let me take you down because I`m going to Strawberry Fields.

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is live at Strawberry Fields, where Lennon`s legacy lives forever, and fans young and old are gathered tonight at the Dakota in New York City, where the shots rang out that fateful night 25 years ago, and at memorials around the world.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is also talking to the stars, the actors, the moguls, the musicians. We have their thoughts on one of the most important voices in music, ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he represented outside of music was even bigger.

HAMMER: Tonight, a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special event. This is Lennon`s legacy.

LENNON (singing): In my life I loved you more.


LENNON (singing): Let me take you down because I`m going to Strawberry Fields.

HAMMER: In the song "Imagine," John Lennon memorably sang, "Imagine all the people living life in peace." He said he might be a dreamer but not the only one. And certainly, judging by the scene here in New York City`s Central Park today, he was absolutely right.

Welcome to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s exclusive live coverage of the legacy of John Lennon. I am A.J. Hammer. As I mentioned, we are live in New York City`s Central Park, at Strawberry Fields, just a few hundred feet away from where John Lennon was gunned down on December 8, 1980, 25 years ago tonight outside of his home, the Dakota apartment building in New York City.

His wife was with him at the time, the legendary Yoko Ono. Yoko stopped by Strawberry Fields earlier today, quite unexpectedly. Nobody was sure if she was going to make an appearance. She was flanked by body guards and police, made her way through the crowd, didn`t have anything to say, but she laid white flowers on the mosaic that reads "Imagine" in Strawberry Fields.

Of course the memorial and tribute to the icon John Lennon going on here, Strawberry Fields, not the only one happening today. They`re going on all over the world. And that`s the story our David Haffenreffer has from just outside the Dakota here in New York City -- David.

DAVID HAFFENREFFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A.J., this whole section of New York City has been like a John Lennon shrine today, people from all over coming to here, the Dakota, and across the street to Strawberry Fields to pay tribute to John Lennon and his music.


HAFFENREFFER (voice-over): Young and old, local and tourists, all spent the day in the Strawberry Fields section of Central Park. Twenty- five years ago, people here were mourning an unforgettable tragedy. Today it`s a powerful symbol of the legacy of John Lennon, a legacy that endures more than a quarter century after his death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John meant peace. John meant love, understanding, and compassion to all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a symbol for what they believe in, and a symbol for what`s good in the world and what the world can be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over there they were singing "Day Tripper" and they were singing "Twist and Shout." There`s no feelings of sadness here. It`s really strange. It`s really just kind of a feel of celebration.

HAFFENREFFER (on camera): New York City is the epicenter where people are gathering to remember John Lennon on this 25th anniversary of his death. He lived here and died here in 1980, but around the world people are also taking part in many events.

(voice-over) In the Beatles` home country of England, fans used tributes, flowers and prayers to celebrate the life of one of Britain`s most influential sons.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give peace a chance.

HAFFENREFFER: In Lennon`s hometown of Liverpool, fans gathered at the Cavern Club where the Beatles first played to remember Lennon and his influence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John, this is for you.

HAFFENREFFER: Elsewhere in Liverpool admirers sent their love skyward. They released hundreds of balloons, carrying more than a thousand messages of tribute to Lennon.

In London, Virgin mega stores held a one minute moment of silence to remember Lennon`s contribution to music. Fans inside the store stopped to think about what contributions Lennon would be making today if he were still alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that he would be involved in a lot of political processes, in different ways. I think that he would be fighting for poetry (ph) in the world and peace in the world.

HAFFENREFFER: Around the globe you could find Lennon tributes today in Yoko Ono`s native Japan.

Outside of Tokyo, hundreds of fans gathered at the John Lennon museum. This 23-year-old`s parents introduced her to the Beatles. She says Lennon`s music transcends language and generational differences.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Even though I can`t understand English, I feel his song in my heart, and I think I can understand what he tried to convey.

HAFFENREFFER: Amateur musicians happily played Lennon songs. One of them says Lennon influenced his life, his hairstyle and his love of music.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When John Lennon died I was so shocked I could not play music for a long time after that. I was able to pick up my music only after five years as I thought I must play for John Lennon`s sake.

HAFFENREFFER: On the other side of the world, in Argentina, the Cavern Club sister pub in Buenos Aires celebrated Lennon in its own way.

The pub held a contest to find the best interpretation of Lennon`s music. The winner gets a replica of Lennon`s guitar. There was no shortage of Lennon fans there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): John Lennon is my maximum music idol. He was a genius musically speaking. He invented music.

HAFFENREFFER: He may not have invented music, but Lennon`s revolutionary influence certainly spread through the world. And that world continues to remember him today.


HAFFENREFFER: As you can see people around the world today remembering John Lennon in a variety of different ways. In Montreal, a group of environmental activists today remembering John Lennon by singing his music outside U.N. climate control talks, yet another sign that Lennon`s sense of activism remains alive and well -- A.J.

HAMMER: David, thanks very much. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s David Haffenreffer outside the Dakota.

I`m still outside of Strawberry Fields, live in New York City. No shortage of Lennon fans here, as well. Sort of a controlled chaos all day long, but thousands have been pouring in to pay tribute to this great icon. Now let`s look at the legacy of John Lennon.


HAMMER (voice-over): John Lennon, one of the greatest musicians of all time, a cultural icon, was used to people asking him for autographs. Mark David Chapman, a Beatles fan, had been pestering him for days. He asked for Lennon`s autograph earlier in the day. Lennon complied, but several hours later, on that fateful night, Chapman waited outside John and Yoko`s home. And this time, instead of a pen, he had a gun.

It was a moment in time almost everyone would refer to: "Where were you when John Lennon was shot?" And just after 10:50 p.m. on the night of December 8, fans came to the Dakota where it happened, stunned, shocked, heartbroken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How could somebody like John Lennon be killed? What kind of a country is this? I remember saying this before. I remember saying this when John Kennedy was shot. I remember saying this when Martin Luther king was shot. I remember saying this when Bobby Kennedy was shot.

HAMMER (on camera): It was an unusually warm night for December. John Lennon and wife Yoko Ono were returning here to the Dakota. As they stepped toward this archway, Chapman pulled a .38 caliber revolver and fired five shots.

(voice-over) The former Beatle tried to run but fell to the floor. His wife stood by screaming. Lennon was bleeding profusely by the time emergency workers arrived and rushed him to the hospital. Doctors were unable to revive him. It was too late. John Lennon was pronounced dead at 11:07 p.m.

The news spread through New York City immediately. Fans gathered at Roosevelt Hospital to say good-bye to John Lennon and to come to grips with his sudden and violent death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will stay until the sunrise at the foot of this hospital and pray for his soul.

HAMMER: Many were there as his body was taking away to the morgue. News reports would later give the name of the man who killed their hero, but reports would not give a reason why Mark Chapman, a 25-year-old unemployed security guard, killed John Lennon.

JEFF GILEN, "NEWSWEEK" MAGAZINE: The fact that he was a pacifist, that he was staunchly antiwar by the time he was killed, yes, the irony was just unbelievable. Everything was about trying not to hurt people, and for him to be killed so brutally is just, you know, made it all the more shocking. I`m sure a lot of his fans never have gotten over it.

HAMMER: Earlier that day, John and Yoko met with photographer Annie Leibowitz. They did a photo shoot for "Rolling Stone" magazine. They were celebrating John and Yoko`s No. 1 record, "Double Fantasy." This picture came out of that shoot.

JOE LEVY, "ROLLING STONE" MAGAZINE: This photo is exceptionally intimate. You`re inside a couple`s bedroom. You`re in their bed. You`re seeing what their marriage is about. And you`re seeing an expression of how much he felt that he needed Yoko.

HAMMER: The American Society of Magazine Editors recently named this the best magazine cover of all time.

LEVY: It`s very hard to divorce that photograph from the circumstances. This picture is also remembered because of what happened later that evening. It`s very hard to think of that photo of John and Yoko and not think, and that`s when we lost him.

HAMMER: Without question, John Lennon gave the world some of the most memorable music of our time. He and fellow Beatle Paul McCartney are widely considered the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

GILEN: What John brought to the band, obviously, was an acerbic sense of humor, his resistance. He was the one that was kind of looking at it all from afar and saying, "What are we doing? Are we being packaged? What does fame mean?" He was really one of first people that understood what it meant to be famous and what it didn`t mean.

Now McCartney was a fantastic showman. He was incredibly charming, incredibly cute, and between the sort of sweet and the sour, you really got what was I think the most successful songwriting team in history.

ED SULLIVAN, FORMER TALK SHOW HOST: Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles.

HAMMER: It really al started with this, the Beatles` appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show" in 1964. This performance set off a mania in the United States.

John and Paul wrote most of the Beatles songs, songs that have sold more than 250 million records over the years and inspired countless artists around the world.

TOM PETTY, MUSICIAN: Everybody was inspired by Beatles music. I think everything that came after them is clearly influenced by them.

HAMMER: John Lennon was 40 years old when he died. At the time he was almost as rich as the royal family. Some estimates say his assets approached a half a billion dollar, maybe more.

But in death, Lennon continues to be big business. His estate made $22 million in 2004.

During his last two years as a member of the Beatles, Lennon was spending much of his time with Yoko Ono, publicly protesting the Vietnam War and advocating peace. The two held what were called "bed-ins."

LEVY: He was in the Beatles, the most powerfully musical group -- the most powerful musical group in the world. He understood the value of how he could reach a massive audience. The Beatles, after all, reached a bigger audience more than anyone else. And he began to understand the value of peace, began to understand the value of using his music as an advertisement for peace.

HAMMER: This is footage from the documentary "Imagine." John and Yoko are just married and holding their second bed-in. It was in this hotel room where the pair recorded "Give Peace a Chance," a song which would go on to become an international anthem for the antiwar movement.

LEVY: He was literally at that point in his life making commercials for peace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He knew he had this fame. He knew he had this power, and he wanted to use it for something. That`s something you hear celebrities say all the time now, is they just figured it out when John Lennon figured it out 40 years ago.

HAMMER: In life and death, John Lennon is a legend. His music will never be forgotten.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take away John Lennon, take away the Beatles, and what do you have? Some pretty tunes, some good looking people. But you don`t have rock `n` roll. Take them away, and maybe music, well, it`s just less important.


HAMMER: What a life absolutely worth celebrating. No surprise that the crowds have shown up here at Central Park, Strawberry Fields, tonight to celebrate the life and legacy of John Lennon. And we will continue with our live exclusive coverage of the legacy of John Lennon in just a few moments.

I`m going to be joined by legendary talk show host Dick Cavett. Dick was the first American interviewer to interview John Lennon after the Beatles had broken up, some 35 years ago. Plus, he was a friend of John`s, as well.

And Brooke Anderson, back warmly ensconced in the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT studios, I understand you`ll be speaking with a very special Beatles related guest, as well.

ANDERSON: That`s right, A.J. I`ll be talking with the man who brought the Beatles to America some 40 years ago. That`s coming up when SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s exclusive live coverage of John Lennon`s legacy continues.


DAN AYKROYD, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: Well, apart from John Lennon`s immense contribution to music and poetry and lyrics and rock `n` roll, he was the first celebrity that took his notoriety, his celebrity, his family and translated it across the political lines and do some good in the world.



HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s exclusive coverage of the legacy of John Lennon. I`m A.J. Hammer, live in Central Park in New York City at Strawberry Fields, just a few hundred feet away from the Dakota apartment building where John Lennon was gunned down 25 years ago tonight.

One man that spent a lot of time with John Lennon, way back in the 1970s became a friend of John`s and was actually the first U.S. interviewer to interview John Lennon after the breakup of the Beatles, legendary talk show host Dick Cavett.

Nice to see you, Mr. Cavett.

DICK CAVETT, FORMER TALK SHOW HOST: You, too, my dear Hammer.

Twenty-five years sounds a little better than a quarter of a century, doesn`t it?

But I really liked Lennon. I wasn`t sure how we`d get on. He asked me to come over to their hotel room before they came on. And I went over to the St. Regis, and John put me in a movie there that he was shooting and said something I`ve never forgotten. He said, "You`ve got the only halfway intelligent show on television."

And I thought, isn`t that great to have a halfway intelligent show.

HAMMER: Well, you managed to get some good information out of John back then.


HAMMER: He made two memorable appearances on your show. And as I mentioned, you were the first U.S. interviewer. What a great get, to get John Lennon after the Beatles had broken up.

CAVETT: It was a tremendous thing. I didn`t realize it at the time how great it was. And they had such a good time on the first show the audience didn`t want to leave, which I`ve never seen before. So we taped 30 minutes and got almost three shows out of them.

HAMMER: Well, we`d like to take a look at a couple of clips. And first we`d like to look at an important question to have asked at the time, because everybody was pointing fingers after the breakup of the Beatles at Yoko Ono, saying she was responsible for it.


HAMMER: and you got John`s take on that. Let`s take a look right now.



LENNON: Anyway, she didn`t split the Beatles. Because how could one girl split the Beatles or one woman? The Beatles were drifting apart on their own, you know?

CAVETT: Do you remember when you realized that it was inevitable that you would split up?

LENNON: No. It`s like saying, do you remember falling in love? Not quite. It just sort of happens.


HAMMER: So how do you think history will be written about Yoko`s impact on the Beatles?

CAVETT: Yes, I don`t know about that. She didn`t seem a dragon lady to me, and I know when she met John, she was an established avant-garde artist, rather well respected. So I`m not sure about that.

John made it sound a little pleasanter than the breakup was. I mean, the details are agony and horrible. Harrison woke up one day and just said there`s got to be a way to make a living not being a Beatle.

HAMMER: Well, you also got some great insight into why the Beatles were never destined to be one of these bands like the Rolling Stones, rocking on into their older years. Let`s take a look at this clip.



CAVETT: How long was it fun?

LENNON: Well, everything`s fun off and on, you know. So I suppose it could have gone on being fun off and on. Or it could have gotten worse. I don`t know.

It`s just that when you grow up, you know, we don`t want to be the crazy guy which they might know over here, which is British, or the Marx Brothers, which has sort of been dragged on stage playing "She Loves You" when we`ve got, you know, asthma and tuberculosis when we`re 50, you know. Here they are again.

(singing) Yesterday all my troubles...


HAMMER: Were he still alive, would John Lennon still be performing? Age of 65 had he lived.

CAVETT: I`m not sure he would. I asked Jagger back then if he could imagine himself performing at 60, and he said he easily. And he`s doing it.

So it`s a wonder the Beatles, any of them survived. I mean, not to take anything off the festivity. The amount of drugs and booze and women that they consumed and a boy`s dream for those years, it`s a wonder that no one went the way of, you know, Janis Joplin or Hendrix.

But it was funny -- it was fun for a long time. John said the movie makes it look like our life were fun, and it wasn`t fun before the movie and it wasn`t that much fun after. And the tensions were growing in and among everybody.

I don`t know that they would have lasted much longer without Yoko. Who knows? She`s easy to blame.

And John is just so damn funny. I mean, to talk to him, he was so full of puns and anagrams and double meanings and things. He did one I haven`t figured out yet.

HAMMER: OK. You`ll have to pass that along to me during the break.

CAVETT: I`ll certainly do that.

HAMMER: So to watch the two of you, and the three of you, with Yoko, sitting there and smoking cigarettes and having a couple of drinks during your show is a wonder. And DVDs featuring those particular shows are available in stores now. We`ve got to wrap it up.

CAVETT: They went through a package of Viceroys in, I think, 48 seconds. So then they calmed down. But they were so bloody nervous. I couldn`t imagine why.

HAMMER: Dick Cavett, thanks for joining us tonight here in Central Park in Strawberry Fields on this amazing day.

CAVETT: I like you, it`s a goddamn shame that he`s dead.

HAMMER: it is. It is, but we will continue to celebrate his legacy. Our exclusive coverage will continue in just moments on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

I`m going to be speaking with a guy who actually got to fly around on a plane with them during the Beatles` very first tour of the United States. He has quite a few stories to tell. That`s coming up in a few moments -- Brooke.

ANDERSON: A.J., it`s also a poignant night for Beatles fans in more ways than one. Tonight Paul McCartney has earned some Grammy nominations. And I`ll have more on that when SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s exclusive live coverage of John Lennon`s legacy continues.


MARIAH CAREY, SINGER: It was interesting the other night. I was watching, I believe it was the making of "Imagine." And it was very -- it was so interesting just to see how, you know, so many different sides of this incredible man. And so, you know, he`s had an enormous impact on music that we can`t even express with words. So I`m happy that, you know, we`ll all be celebrating his life.



ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s exclusive live coverage of John Lennon`s legacy.

This must be a bittersweet day for Paul McCartney. In addition to being the 25th anniversary of his songwriting partner and band mate John Lennon`s death, today McCartney was nominated for two Grammys.

The 48th annual Grammy Award nominees were announced here in New York this morning. McCartney`s "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard" picked up nominations for album of the year and pop vocal album.

Other big nominees this year, Mariah Carey, John Legend and Kanye West each got eight nominations. The Grammys will be handed out February 8.

OK, everybody, stay where you are, because coming up we are joined live by the man who brought the Beatles to America. It`s very, very exciting.

A.J., we`re going back to you standing by at Strawberry Fields here in New York.

HAMMER: And the guy you`re going to talk to, what a great storyteller. I`ll be speaking with a guy who actually got to travel with the Beatles. And we know John was a musician, a poet, a writer, a legend, but a weatherman? We`ll get that story, too, as our continuing live exclusive of John Lennon`s legacy continues on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


SOPHIA CHOI, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Hi there. I`m Sophia Choi with your "Headline Prime Newsbreak."

Well, the Bush administration says federal air marshals acted consistently with their training yesterday in Miami. That`s after the deadly shooting of a 44-year-old passenger at Miami International Airport. Air marshals say the man claimed he had a bomb in his bag and made threatening gestures. His wife has told police her husband was bipolar and had not taken his medication.

Slick roads and heavy snow are causing havoc throughout the Midwest tonight. Winter storms are leaving as much as 10 inches of snow in some areas. And people are shivering through single-digit temperatures. Airports in several major cities are reporting long delays, including Chicago, Cincinnati, Atlanta and Newark.

And it`s beginning to look festive at the nation`s Capitol. This 80- foot spruce was lit up tonight in D.C. It comes from Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Christmas tree is decorated with 3,000 ornaments handmade by students from that state.

That`s the news for now. I`m Sophia Choi. Now back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s exclusive live coverage of the legacy of John Lennon. I`m A.J. Hammer. I`m live in New York City`s Central Park at Strawberry Fields.

It is the 25th anniversary of the night that John Lennon, the legendary music and cultural icon, was gunned down just a couple of hundred feet away from where I`m standing right now when he returned home with his wife, Yoko Ono, to the Dakota apartment building at 10:50 at night. And Mark David Chapman pulled out a revolver and shot Lennon four times.

Outside of Strawberry Fields, literally fans have been piling in by the thousands. I`ve been here many years on this day. I`ve never seen an energy quite like this on the 25th anniversary. Yoko Ono, the widow, stopped by herself earlier today.

We weren`t sure if she was going to make an appearance, but, in fact, she did. With nothing to say, flanked by body guards, mobbed by the crowds, everybody wanting to get a piece of her, or perhaps feel her energy on this day. He laid white flowers on the mosaic that says "Imagine," here at Strawberry Fields, which was established as a memorial to John Lennon 25 years ago.

The music that brought people out today, the message that John Lennon represented that brought people out today, is a legacy that will live on. And our own Sibila Vargas has more on the incredible life of John Lennon.


SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): December 8th, 1980, John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, are returning from an evening recording session to their home at the Dakota building on New York`s Upper West Side. As he steps out of his limousine, Lennon is greeted by a gunman posing as an autograph-seeking fan.

Twenty-five-year-old Mark David Chapman opens fire. Four bullets hit Lennon. Minutes later, Lennon is pronounced dead, and the world begins to mourn a music legend.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: All we are saying is give peace a chance.

VARGAS: Singer, songwriter, pacifist, Beatle. Lennon`s career won him legions of followers and it was partly his quest for adulation that first lead Lennon to music.

JOHN LENNON, LATE MUSICIAN: I had no idea about doing music as a way of life until rock and roll hit me. And then, when rock and roll hit me, that changed my whole life.

You know, you went to see those movies with Elvis or somebody in it when we were still in Liverpool, and you`d see everybody waiting to see him, right? And I`d be waiting there, too. And they`d all scream when he came on the screen, so I thought, "That`s a good job."


VARGAS: A newly-released special edition DVD of the movie, "Imagine: John Lennon," includes rare footage of Lennon talking about his life...

LENNON: Yes, my father and my mother split when I was about four.

VARGAS: ... as well as recording. Many call Lennon`s music the soundtrack to a generation. But critics say his solo work was uneven.

MIKAL GILMORE, "ROLLING STONE" CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: It was pretty hit-and-miss, until the very final album just released just a few weeks before his death.

VARGAS: Lennon`s death came just as his "Double Fantasy" album was rising up the charts. In an October interview with CNN, Yoko Ono discussed continuing her late husband`s legacy through a grant she created to honor peace activists.

YOKO ONO, JOHN LENNON`S WIDOW: This is the type of thing that John would have approved and he would have loved to see happened. And I thought it was very important that this award is created.

VARGAS: Perhaps Lennon`s greatest legacy is his influence on future generations of musicians.

BONO, U2 LEAD SINGER: I wanted our first demos for our first album -- I was sending them to John Lennon to produce our first album. He invented U2.

VARGAS: The lyrics to John Lennon`s "Imagine," perhaps resonating now more than ever.

LENNON (Singing): ... living life in peace...


HAMMER: That was SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas.

Well, certainly, it`s the fans that have kept the legacy of John Lennon alive. Literally, they have come out in the thousands this year to commemorate the man on the 25th anniversary of his death.

This is Fred from New York City. Fred, you say you haven`t been able to come back before tonight because it`s been too painful?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I`ve just never been able to do it, and today I was drawn here for some reason.

HAMMER: And the impact that John Lennon`s music and life has had on your life?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, that`s the reason why I started playing music. I still remember "The Ed Sullivan Show" when I was four years old.

HAMMER: Well, so many Americans certainly venture to London and England, and to go by the famed Abbey Road studios where the Beatles recorded, to try to feel a piece of that. We have Londoners joining us here in New York City, the Woods (ph) family.

What brought you out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, my daughter, Perry (ph), here is a real big fan of John Lennon. And I thought would sort of come down and have a look at what was going on here tonight.

HAMMER: And are you guys inspired tonight? I see the peace sign on your face.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes, he`s just -- I`ve kind of discovered him last year. And ever since then, I wanted to come down here.

HAMMER: Well, you guys are the ones who will keep the legacy alive through the generations.

Can you imagine, being a fan of John Lennon, the year is 1964, and you have the opportunity to get on a plane and travel with the Beatles on their first North American tour? That was the case for my next guest. I had the opportunity to sit down with Larry Kane earlier today, who had that very opportunity, to see what it was like the first time he met John Lennon.


HAMMER: So, Larry, so you were 21 years old when you first met John Lennon.

LARRY KANE, AUTHOR, "LENNON REVEALED": I was a baby. I was a young radio news director.

HAMMER: When you got the assignment and you had to go spend this difficult, difficult time with him on the airplane, what was your first impression of John Lennon when you met him?

KANE: I thought he was a little brash and a little arrogant, but I knew right away when he walked in the room that he had you. He was a very charismatic man. He made eye contact with you. It reminded me of Bill Clinton in some ways. He made eye contact with you. He chatted with you. He looked at you. He talked to you.

He had found out that my mother had died that summer. And he heard from one of the other reporters on the tour that I was talking about it. He came over to me, wanted to see if I was OK, very thoughtful person. Smoked a lot, regular cigarettes at that time, and drank a lot on the plane, because, you know, you learn a lot about a person when you`re confined to a 94-seat airplane flying across the country. He threw ice cubes down my back...


KANE: ... and mashed potatoes on my forehead. And it was very nice to travel with him. What can I say?

HAMMER: And the beginning of a wonderful working relationship, as well as a terrific friendship. And if you fast-forward several years later, he shows up in Philadelphia where you were anchoring the news one weekend to do what? What goes on here? And I believe we have a little footage of this, actually.

KANE: It was a radio marathon. And basically what happened was part of the charity was multiple sclerosis, which is the disease that really did my mother in, and he knew about that. And I called him up, along with a record promoter. He came down all by himself on a train. There you see, he was in the studio doing the weather for us, which he volunteered to do that night. Thank goodness...

HAMMER: Looking smashing, as well.

KANE: Thank goodness that the weather was clear and sunny, because meteorologically, it was not a fantastic weather forecast. And the only time that John Lennon did the weather -- that is me shaking hands with him there. That is me, if you can believe that, the wide ties and the double- breasted suits, and the seersucker, and everything.

But he had a great time. And he really enjoyed doing the weather there. He had a wonderful time. He met -- in his words, he met about 2,000 people that weekend in the flesh, and he loved meeting people. Let me tell you something. There was nothing more important to him than meeting real people. He hated the celebrity mix.

HAMMER: That was the point for him, it was that real-life experience.

KANE: He wanted really -- I mean, a great day to him, according to Yoko, or May Pang, or any of the people he knew, was sitting in a coffee shop, maybe reading the "New York Times," watching the people go by, and melding himself into the vast population of New York City. And he loved, he loved New York.

HAMMER: In your book, you help us to get to know the real John Lennon, the man, not just the celebrity, not just the musician. What`s one thing that people wouldn`t know about John that would just make them go, "Wow"?

KANE: I think they would be very surprised at how insecure he was and his lack of self-esteem. This is a guy who did not have a father to speak of, a mother who disappeared, an aunt who was a disciplinarian, a very close friend who died at a young age, a failed first marriage.

And throughout his life, even during the height of Beatlemania, when they were so successful in the early days, before the rush, before we knew they were the "Beatles," quote, unquote, John Lennon had a poor self- esteem. And he told us that in his music. "I`m a loser," "I`m not what I appear to be," "Help, I need somebody," "Mother, you had me, but I didn`t have you." And then, later in his life, that wonderful, wonderful song, "Just Like Starting Over," which was his point of coming back.

And the song he wrote for Yoko, "Woman," which was, after all he learned about life, and the song he wrote for May Pang, "Number Nine Dream," they were all songs about where he was at that point in his life. So he had a poor self-esteem, even though he exuded confidence.


HAMMER: So many great stories from Larry Kane. And for more, check out his book called "Lennon Revealed." It`s available in stores now.

Well, a rousing chorus of "All You Need is Love" is going on behind me in Strawberry Fields here in Central Park, as the tribute to John Lennon continues. How are they celebrating John Lennon`s life over in London? We`ll go there to find out, coming up after the break.

And, Brooke, I understand you have another terrific Beatles-oriented guest.

ANDERSON: Indeed, I do, A.J. I`ll be speaking with the man who booked the Beatles into one of their most famous U.S. concerts ever. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s exclusive live coverage of John Lennon`s legacy continues in just a moment.


EDIE FALCO, ACTRESS, "THE SOPRANOS": He was a great mind, a lovely soul, and, you know, we are in very unpeaceful times right now, so it seems very relevant to notice the people that made that a priority.




DONALD TRUMP, HOST, "THE APPRENTICE": Well, John Lennon was a special guy, a special genius in the truest sense of the word. His music was amazing. And we all miss John Lennon. He was a part of a life. And I can say he was a -- his music was a big part of my life. And we miss John Lennon.


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s exclusive live coverage of the legacy of John Lennon from New York City`s Central Park in Strawberry Fields. I`m A.J. Hammer.

And throughout the show, we`ve been showing you how America has been remembering John today, with tributes going on all over the nation, in the country that he called his home at the end of his life. But how is he being remembered in his native land of England? Let`s go to CNN`s Richard Quest for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A one-minute round of applause in memory of John Lennon was considered to be one of the more fitting ways to remember the anniversary of his murder, outside the Abbey Road studios here in London.

It was, of course, here that Lennon and the Beatles recorded their most famous hits. And it is here that, every year, thousands of people still come to pay their respects.

(voice-over): It was a tradition started after the death of Lennon to write on the wall. The wall has to be repainted several times a year, because so many people write messages. Today`s writings were all about John Lennon and the tragedy of his death.

Vicky Lawrence remembers seeing Lennon and the Beatles. Today, it had to be remembered.

VICKY LAWRENCE, UK LENNON FAN: Well, just to remember him, and remember his music, and remember his legacy, and remember my childhood, probably, but I`ve been a Beatles fan throughout my life, ever since I was before a teenager, so I`ve been a fan all my life.

QUEST: There were various other moments of commemoration. At the Virgin Megastore in London, there was a minute`s silence in memory of John Lennon. It`s the first time the store has held such an event for any artist.

And then, in Liverpool, John Lennon`s home city, there were numerous events to remember the murdered singer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John, this is for you.


QUEST: It may be 35 years since the Beatles broke up, but even now Liverpool still makes much of its Fab Four heritage.

LENNON (singing): Imagine there`s no heaven...

QUEST: This weekend, the British Broadcasting Corporation will air a special documentary called "One Night in December," where Sir Paul McCartney recalls what a terrible shock it was when he heard of Lennon`s death. And on BBC Radio tonight, there was a special concert from the Abbey Road studios, where today`s artists re-created some of the Beatles` hits.

Like Liverpool, Abbey Road studios will always be one of those places associated with John Lennon and the Beatles. And although the number of people turning up today was perhaps on the small side, the most telling point is that some of those who arrived weren`t even born when John Lennon died.


HAMMER: CNN`s Richard Quest for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT in London.

We go from London now to New York City`s Central Park, where I`m live at Strawberry Fields, as John Lennon`s life is celebrated today. To the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT studios, where Brooke Anderson is standing by with a guest whose importance in the role and in the life the Beatles played in America should not be understated.

ANDERSON: Absolutely not, A.J., a very special guest. Tonight, Sid Bernstein, the man who brought the Beatles to America. He joins us live.

Now, he`s hands-down one of the most influential musical promoters of the 20th century. He actually booked the Beatles in New York`s Shea Stadium for the very first time back in 1975. And Sid is here with us now.

Sid, welcome. Thank you for joining us.


ANDERSON: Oh, we`re happy to have you.

BERNSTEIN: You`ve got a great bunch of guys on your staff here.

ANDERSON: I do, don`t I? We`ve got a great crew here.

BERNSTEIN: And the ladies are lovely, wow.

ANDERSON: Absolutely.

BERNSTEIN: I was feeling quite nervous, but now I don`t. I feel like I`m almost at home.

ANDERSON: We want to put you at ease.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

ANDERSON: That`s what we want to do.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

ANDERSON: What do you reflect on today, 25 years after John Lennon died? Did you do anything special today to remember him?

BERNSTEIN: Did I do anything special today? All I did was think about him, one. I was having dinner on the street where he was taken away from us 25 years ago.

ANDERSON: Today you did?


ANDERSON: It brought back memories, I`m sure, of that time, possibly.

BERNSTEIN: So passing that street coming here to your studio, and the phone calls today, and the other TV shows, and all day long. How do you forget that man?

ANDERSON: You can`t.

BERNSTEIN: He`s endless.

ANDERSON: Let`s go back, Sid, to 1965, when you brought the Beatles to America. When did you think -- when did you hear about them, first of all, this group from London? And when did you think, "I`ve got to get these guys to the U.S."?

BERNSTEIN: I was first, because, when I was a soldier and spending some time in England before we spent time in tougher places than that, I got into the habit of reading English newspapers. And when I got home in one piece, thankfully, my habit of reading English newspapers stayed with me.

And so I read about these four kids from Liverpool before -- as his manager told me, "You`re the first American to call me." And that call came in, I later found out, even before Ed Sullivan`s. And when he found out I had them, he booked them three days before I had them at Carnegie Hall on July 12, 1964.

Automatically, a year later, or through some sort of wisdom I wish that I still had, I booked them at Shea Stadium the following year.

ANDERSON: Arguably one of the biggest concerts ever.

BERNSTEIN: And that was in `65.

ANDERSON: And you know what, Sid? The rest is incredible history. They were thrust into a surreal life almost, pandemonium. How did John Lennon deal with that?

BERNSTEIN: He dealt with it. He was the same guy the day I met him when he got off the plane at JFK, and I met him at his hotel, and his manager, Brian Epstein, introduced me to him, and the other three boys, George, Ringo, and Paul, whom I saw a few days ago, by the way.

And he was just an unforgettable guy. And there was something so special about him that, until this day, the fact that I met him some 41 years ago still keeps me alive, and functioning, and meeting new people like you, your cameramen, your soundmen.


ANDERSON: And I know that people even shook your hand, because they knew you had shaken his hand.


ANDERSON: So it`s...

BERNSTEIN: ... so many people who said, "Have you washed your hand? I want to shake the hand that shook John`s hand." And I said, "Yes, in 41 years, I`ve washed my hands a few times."


ANDERSON: And they shook your hand. And then I wonder how long before they didn`t wash their hands?

BERNSTEIN: People used to gather in front of my building on 12th Street in the village...

ANDERSON: And just wait, I know.

BERNSTEIN: ... and wait to shake the hand that shook the hand of John.

ANDERSON: Well, Sid, you made quite a mark bring them to America. And we appreciate your being here with us tonight. Sid Bernstein, thank you so much.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s exclusive live coverage of the legacy of John Lennon continues after this break.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you write a song like "Imagine," I mean, come on, it`s going to be there forever...

ANDERSON: Forever...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... for 1,000 years, forever, as long as there`s people on this planet.



HAMMER: Well, before we leave you live from Strawberry Fields today, in New York City`s Central Park, as John Lennon has been remembered all day long, I heard somebody say John was the kind of musician who didn`t want to make music that just had people clapping, and singing, and dancing along. He wanted them to sit and hold hands, and think, and talk, and be inspired. And, clearly, 25 years after his death, that is still happening.

Thank you for joining us for this very special, exclusive, live coverage of John Lennon`s legacy on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. We leave you now with some extraordinary, extraordinary pictures of the life of John Lennon and from his firm belief that all you need is love. Thanks for watching.


© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines