WATCH: John Lennon’s Last Interview on the Day He Died

John Lennon Final Interview

Getty Items left at the mosaic named for the John Lennon's song "Imagine" December 8, 2015 at Strawberry Fields, the Central Park garden dedicated in his honor, in New York.

John Lennon spoke about the importance of staying true to yourself in his final interview, given on the day he died, December 8, 1980.

Radio reporters who conducted Lennon’s final interview are appearing on a special episode of ABC 20/20. The episode, “John Lennon: His Life, Legacy, Last Days” is airing shortly after Lennon’s birthday and as the anniversary of his murder draws near. Lennon would have turned 80 on October 9, 1940. The episode airs Friday, October 16, 2020 at 9 p.m. Eastern time.

Here’s what you need to know:

Lennon Gave a Radio Interview Just a Few Hours Before He Died & Spoke About Being Himself

Lennon gave an interviewed to Dave Sholin and Laurie Kaye for the radio on the day of his death, December 8, 1980. Ron Hummel and Bert Keane were also a part of the radio team, according to Beatles Archive.

In the interview, Lennon talked about his son, Sean Lennon, who was a young boy at the time. He also talked about his new album, his wife, Yoko Ono, and how they met in 1966.

Lennon said in the interview:

Because, even as I put it in my last incarnation Everybody Has Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey, it means really that one can not be absolutely oneself in public because the fact that you’re in public makes you… you have to have some kind of self defense, or whatever it is. But we always tried from, whether from Two Virgins through Imagine though anything we’ve done together, the films we made together, we always tried to get as near to the uncensored, as it were, for what we are. Not to project an image of something that we’re not. Because having been in that sort of pop business for so long and tried to retain myself throughout it but obviously not always being successful at that. It was most uncomfortable when I didn’t feel I was being myself. You know, when I would have to smile when I didn’t wanna smile, and it became like all like being a politician, you know? And what I really got through these five years is: I’m not running for office. I like to be liked. I don’t like to offend people. I would like to be a happy contented person. I don’t want to have to sell my soul again – as it were – to have a hit record. It’s… I’ve discovered that I can live without it. It’d make it happier for me, but I’m not gonna come back in and try to create a persona who would not be myself. Does that explain it?

At the conclusion of his interview, he said he was a fan of his fans, according to his full interview transcript.

“Oh, it’s a pleasure… I… I’m a fan of people, too, you know? I like people to sign their books when they give ’em to me and all that…” he said.

Lennon Was Also Photographed for Rolling Stone in the Hours Before His Death

Lennon did a nine-hour interview with Rolling Stone three days before his death on Friday, December 5, 1980. He was photographed for the piece just a few hours before his death, according to the Beatles archives.

Rolling Stone editor Jonathan Cott interview Lennon at his apartment at the recording studio, Record Plant, Rolling Stone reported. The interview was meant to serve as the groundwork for the magazine’s next cover story, but instead, Cott found himself writing Lennon’s obituary, Rolling Stone reported. Cott never finished transcribing the interview, which included discussions about Lennon’s personal life, Ono, and his son, Sean.

Rolling Stone wrote:

On the evening of Friday, December 5th, 1980, John Lennon spoke to Rolling Stone editor Jonathan Cott for more than nine hours at his apartment on New York’s Upper West Side and at the Record Plant recording studio. Three nights later, Lennon would be murdered as he was returning home from a mixing session. The interview had originally been scheduled to run as the cover story of the first issue of 1981, but after Lennon’s killing, Cott instead wrote an obituary for Lennon and ended up using very little from their conversations. In fact, he never even fully transcribed his tape. On the 30th anniversary of Lennon’s death, we present, for the first time, the full text of Lennon’s last major print interview: the joyous, outrageously funny, inspiring, fearless and subversive conversation Lennon shared with us that night, as he was preparing to jump back into the limelight after five years of private life with Yoko and their young son, Sean.

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