His Manhattan home remains a shrine. His fans have not forgotten.
On the 10th anniversary of his assassination, John Lennon was remembered Saturday with spontaneous tributes in New York, a plaque in his hometown of Liverpool and a rendition of "Yesterday" on Moscow television.Hundreds of Lennon fans stopped by Strawberry Fields, the section of Central Park opposite the Manhattan apartment building where he was shot to death by a deranged fan on Dec. 8, 1980. Others left flowers outside the Dakota for his widow, Yoko Ono.
In Liverpool, England, the pre-Christmas rush in a shopping center halted at midday Saturday as a minute's silence was observed to mark the anniversary of Lennon's death.
Tom MacKenzie, immortalized as "Father MacKenzie" in the Beatles' l966 hit song "Eleanor Rigby," organized a simple ceremony around the centerpiece of the shopping mall - life-size bronze statues of the four members of the Liverpool pop group.
"I looked after John and the Beatles in l960, and in a way I'm still looking after John," the retired impresario said.
"John is an old friend of mine. I grew up hearing his records," said Sam Diaz, 30, who came to leave a bouquet in Strawberry Fields in Manhattan. "I feel sad today. I miss his music, but I'll never forget John Lennon."
Ono was not at the Dakota apartment Saturday, said her spokesman, Elliot Mintz. She and the couple's 15-year-old son, Sean, were marking the anniversary quietly in Europe, he said.
Ono said earlier this year she chose to celebrate Lennon's 50th birthday rather than dwell on his death. The Oct. 9 occasion was marked by a worldwide broadcast of Lennon's peace anthem, "Imagine," for an estimated 1 billion listeners.
"Strawberry Fields" played softly from a boom box Saturday as visitors piled flowers and assorted mementos alongside a makeshift memorial fashioned from a cardboard box in Central Park.
An ink sketch of Lennon looking down on the world topped the tribute, which carried the handwritten message, "Thank you John, for showing us the way how to care for ourselves and the world."
In Los Angeles, fans were invited to do the same at Lennon's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The Soviet TV evening news program "Vremya" also noted the anniversary, showing videotape of Lennon fans laying memorial flowers in Strawberry Fields. The program showed its weather forecast to the tune of the Beatles' hit, "Yesterday."
A half-dozen bouquets were left outside the Dakota before noon. The flowers were brought inside and sent upstairs to Ono's apartment, said one of the building's doormen. Outside, fans looked at the spot where Lennon was shot and moved on.
Lennon was returning home with Ono after a recording session when Mark David Chapman, a fan who received the ex-Beatle's autograph just hours before, shot and killed him.
In Attica prison in upstate New York, Chapman says he is filled with remorse. He says he murdered an age of innocence with a spray of bullets from a .38-caliber pistol.
Chapman, now 35, a former security guard, called out "Mr. Lennon?" and then went into a combat stance. He pumped five bullets into the singer. Earlier in the day, Lennon had autographed a copy of his new albumn "Double Fantasy" for Chapman, who had been trailing the musician for weeks.
Chapman told an interviewer from his isolated cell at Attica state prison where he is serving 20 years to life: "It was an end of innocence for that time. And I regret being the one that ended it."
He told Jack Jones of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that, "In my mind at that time, Lennon wasn't a real person but an image on a screen . . . And I became hurt. Enraged at what I perceived to be his phoniness."
Immediately after shooting, authorities said, Chapman dropped his gun and stood calmly. He pulled out a copy of J.D. Salinger's novel "Catcher in the Rye" and began reading.
When the news broke that Lennon had been shot, thousands gathered at the Dakota. Some stood in silence and in tears. Some held candles, flowers, marijuana cigarettes and sang.
The former Beatle once said he and the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ but in his last years, he lived as a virtual recluse. According to biographer Albert Goldman, Lennon rarely ventured off his bed.
But he was getting himself together and rejoining the world when he was killed.
Yoko felt that by delaying permission for the doctors to announce his death, she could forestall the truth.
"For that split second, I felt as though John would be still alive if his death was not announced," she told People magazine.