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OPINION: John Lennon’s loss 40 years ago this week still felt

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We watched him with admiration for 16 years. And though John Lennon left us 40 years ago, his music seems to have been part of our lives forever.

Music for teenagers in the 1960s was a big deal. Our social calendars revolved around high school dances and roller-skating at Rose Gardens on Friday nights, live bands at Kenwick on the Lake and Saturday night dances at the Mitton Street YMCA.

Sarnia mornings would regularly find many of us at 220 North Front Street, perusing the racks of albums in a little shop known as Mary’s Record Mart.

Most people in Sarnia didn’t learn of a Liverpool band called the Beatles until 1964 – the year they appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. A few of us discovered their early music a year before.

I wasn’t impressed initially. I preferred the heavy drumbeat of the London-based Dave Clark Five. Lead singer Mike Smith is today considered one of the era’s great rock ‘n roll voices.

But by the time the Beatles’ fifth album “Help!” was released in 1965, I was a big fan. Rubber Soul and Revolver followed, and by the time “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” appeared in 1967 the Beatles were, by far, the most popular musical group in the world.

The music has withstood the test of time, with the tunes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney reflecting an ageless talent.

Born 80 years ago during a German air raid, John Winston Lennon met Paul McCartney at the age of 16. Prophetically, the headline that night in the Liverpool Evening Express was, “Merseyside Sizzles!”

It referred to a heat wave blanketing Europe, but the coincidence is breathtaking. Lennon and McCartney are credited with writing 200 songs together, and the band went on to sell hundreds of millions of albums.

The Beatles broke up in 1980. Lennon married his new musical collaborator Yoko Ono and moved into the historic Dakota Building alongside Central Park in New York City. From 1975 to 1980, he went on hiatus to act as Mr. Mom to their son, Sean.

When Lennon was fatally shot by a deranged fan on Dec. 8, 1980, he had returned to the studio and just released the “Double Fantasy” album. He died in New York’s Roosevelt Hospital.

Many fans learned of the tragedy when sportscaster Howard Cosell broke into a Monday Night Football play-by-play to describe “an unspeakable tragedy in New York City.”

Forty years later, we still miss John Lennon, who had such an impact on our youth, and feel the aftershocks of that unspeakable tragedy.

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