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Joe Walsh, Graham Nash, Nancy Wilson & more reflect on John Lennon as 40th anniversary of his death approaches

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Bettmann via Getty Images

This Tuesday, December 8, marks the 40th anniversary of the death of John Lennon, who was just 40 years old when he was murdered by a deranged fan outside of his New York City apartment building.

In commemoration of the tragedy, ABC Audio has chatted with a variety of music stars who shared their reflections on Lennon’s loss and what he and his music meant to them.

Joe Walsh, whose brother-in-law is Lennon’s ex-Beatle band mate Ringo Starr, says, “I’m so happy to have had [Lennon] in my life as a role model. He showed me how to be cool. He showed me how to write music…When he died, I felt like part of me died, and there’s a hole there inside me where John was. And he had a profound effect on me as a musician and as a person. And I miss him, and I get sad when I talk about it.”

Graham Nash, whose early band The Hollies were part of the British Invasion that The Beatles launched, notes, “The one thing that I am left with after…commiserating about what happened 40 years ago to John Lennon…What songs were in his head that weren’t recorded yet? What songs that could possibly change the world once more were in his head when he was killed?…That’s part of the tragedy for me.”

Recalling how Lennon’s murder affected her, Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson says, “It was like a JFK moment…like the…end of the innocence in so many ways. You know, it was just so random and cruel. And [it was] like our whole generation was hit in the solar plexus. You know, like it couldn’t have been more painful of a loss.”

Here are some other music stars’ reflections on Lennon:

The DoorsJohn Densmore: “[M]y first book, Riders on the Storm, I dedicated it to John Lennon. I said something about his courage to show his personal life as well as artistic…that we have to struggle and have divorces and go to the bathroom like everybody else. So, much respect for John Lennon, obviously.”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell: “I wonder what he’d be doing now…if he was still around. Probably amazing stuff. But what a great loss and what a horrible way to lose him. It just doesn’t make sense, ’cause their music was all about love and redemption and hope. And this f***ing idiot just did that. I mean, it makes no sense, like a lot of stuff nowadays makes no sense.”

The Moody BluesJohn Lodge: “Imagine to me, the album, is one of my favorite albums of all time, because there’s songs on there that…’Jealous Guy’ and everything [that are just] great. What can I say? And there’s something about the…simplicity of John Lennon songs. They went straight there. They went straight to you. You didn’t have to look for it.”

Whitesnake‘s David Coverdale: “The thing for me, with [experiencing] so much loss of colleagues I know, and recently Edward [Van Halen], immense loss, is that, as artists, either painters or writers or musicians, their music still lives and is as potent as ever. Maybe you listen to it closer now, or maybe with a more emotional aspect. When you listen to [Van Halen‘s] ‘Eruption’…or John Lennon ‘Woman,’ you know, just these gorgeous songs…I’ve just got deeper and deeper into.”

Badfinger‘s Joey Molland: “He was lovely. I loved the way he just spoke his mind. I loved the way he didn’t back off, y’know?”

By Matt Friedlander
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