I did not know Mr. Lennon. But I knew his music and always called him John, never Mr. Lennon.

Had I met him while living in New York (I left just three months shy of his murder), I am sure I would have smiled and simply said, "Hi, John."

He reportedly liked that. He liked that New Yorkers were not overwhelmed by the sight of a Beatle walking down the street with them. He was so comfortable there he never had bodyguards. He didn't want anything to separate him from the people in the city.

He was also very generous with his time and with autographs. No diva-tudes from John, no. He signed whatever was put before him by whoever was putting it before him — including an album from a shy young man who waited in front of the Dakota Apartments on the early evening of Dec. 8, 1980.

He handed John a copy of his latest album, "Double Fantasy," and after signing it, John reportedly looked at the young man and asked, "Is that it? Is there anything else?"

The man shook his head, no; mumbled a thank-you; and John and Yoko headed off in their limo to the Record Plant where they would spend the next few hours working on Yoko's single, "Walking on Thin Ice."

But there was something else the young autograph-seeker wanted. Something unspeakable. You see, that same man would still be waiting outside the Dakota at approximately 11:30 p.m. and would murder John Lennon.

I was half asleep in my strange old bedroom — home to earn cash to head back out on my own musical journey, this time out to LA. My parents were watching Monday Night Football when my mother came in my room and asked if I were awake.

Acknowledging that I was, she said, "John Lennon has been shot."  Strangely, I did not leap out of bed and dash to the TV like a madman. No, I quietly, calmly asked, "Is he dead?"  She replied, "They don't think so, but no one knows right now."

Unbelievably, I soon fell asleep! Why? Because never in my wildest thoughts could I imagine it being intentional. I figured it being New York, a city I knew so well, a stray bullet hit John in the arm or leg and that would be all. Or it had been a robbery attempt; and, again, John would not be mortally wounded.  Just a flesh wound, as they say in the movies.

No one would intentionally shoot John Lennon!

Then the next day... oh, God, that awful next day.

I did not know Mr. Lennon. But I knew John. The "John" that was always followed in name by "Paul, George, and Ringo." That is what I lost on Dec. 8, 1980. I lost "the John" following by the Three. I lost The Beatles.

Never again would they be in the same room. I'd never see a picture of them in their '60s laughing over some goofy thing that had happened on the way to the photo shoot. All hope was lost for me to hear John and Paul sing together again. And as silly as it sounds now, for a while, honestly, it felt like hope in and of itself was lost.

Everything about The Beatles was forever covered by a cloud. Every Beatle record, movie, live show. Everything they ever did was tainted.

Their early records that just rang out with the uninhibited pleasures of Beatlemania, like "She Loves You," now brought tears to my eyes. But they were not tears for John, or for Yoko, Sean, Julian or anyone but for me. Aching, selfish tears, they were; tears for what I had lost; for what inside of me was forever gone, what was forever broken.

I did not know Mr. Lennon. But I knew The Beatles, and when the remaining three did "The Beatles Anthology," telling their story in their own words, there was an empty place at the table. As great as it was seeing and hearing Paul, George and Ringo together, even making a new recording using an old John demo to go by, it was off kilter, off balance, incomplete. We'd hear Paul, George and Ringo muse on Beatlemania and Shea Stadium (the biggest rock concert in the world at the time); but we would only have old taped interviews from the '70s for John's insight.

Now, 35 years later, my parents have since passed away, as have my artistic ambitions. But as long as I live I will never forget where I was that night. How Howard Cosell, of all people, made the announcement; or how in the days that followed Yoko asked for 10 minutes of silence to honor John; how I shut the Muzak system down in the store where I worked since the management wouldn't comply; how we, as in the folks in the Boston music community and in the local colleges signed a petition to have the UN start its assembly with a minute of silence honoring John's post-Beatle efforts for world peace; and how each anniversary brought with it its own moments of sadness.

I did not know Mr. Lennon.  But I knew The Beatles and I knew the John who played guitar, harmonica and piano, and wrote and sang for them.  And I know that at least for me, since his murder, nothing has been quite the same.

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