Killer of John Lennon denied parole today, the former Beatle’s birthday:
- Releasing Mark David Chapman after 22 years in prison would “deprecate the seriousness” of the crime, the parole board said in a statement released Wednesday morning. The board said Chapman had “acceptable” behavior in prison but that didn’t guarantee he wouldn’t pose a threat to society.
State Parole Division spokesman Thomas Grant. He said the timing of the notice and what would have been Lennon’s 62nd birthday wasn’t intentional.
At his first parole hearing two years ago, Chapman said he did not deserve to go free. He will be up for parole again in 2004.
Chapman, 47, is serving 20 years to life for shooting Lennon outside his Manhattan apartment in 1980 as the former Beatle returned from a late-night recording session.
Transcripts of the latest hearing were not immediately available. At his parole hearing two years ago, Chapman said: “I believe once you take a person’s life, there’s no way you can make up for that. Period.”
Chapman lives in a housing unit separate from the general population for his own safety and works as a clerk in prison, said James Flateau, spokesman for the state Department of Correctional Services. He was involved in three “minor incidents” between 1989 and 1994 for delaying an inmate count and refusing to follow an order, but nothing since 1994, Flateau said.
Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, did not immediately respond to a request for comment left at her New York office. She had opposed Chapman’s parole two years ago, saying she was concerned for the safety of herself and her children.
Thoughts on John Lennon’s Birthday
I didn’t realize what John Lennon meant to me or the Beatles until he was killed. His death seemed all the more unfair and unbearable because he had rediscovered personal happiness and its musical expression for the first time in over ten years. Ten years seemed like a long time to me back then.
I had been a Paul-man in my youth, but after John was killed it all hit me: the incredible promise of beauty and truth and rock ‘n’ roll the Beatles made and kept for eight years was built on the foundation of John.
Instead of backing down from that promise – saying “after all we’re only human” – the Beatles delivered and delivered and delivered for eight years until the full implications of the promise finally overwhelmed them. They were staring into the jaws of an insatiable, ravenous beast that was no less beastly because it smiled and waved and gave them money. The Beatles finally suffered a collective inability to pretend that the beast was not a beast.
Ten years later, in 1980, John was willing to take on the beast again. This was all the more noble because John knew best the limitless demands his reemergence would precipitate.
But he said, “That’s ok, I have some things to say that I only had an abstract understanding of before, like fatherhood and true love, and the foolishness of politics. I finally understand myself so I want to talk to people again.” A happy, centered and positive John Lennon was awesome to behold, and Double Fantasy was the beginning of that process.
Then he was dead, and it wasn’t even his fault. Who can really feel sorry for Elvis, or the dozens of other rock stars from Johnny Ace to Kurt Cobain who effectuated their own deaths? But John was blameless: a happy and healthy family man cut down by a deranged fan on the way home from work.
John was the essence of the Beatles not only because of his musical contributions, but because the others, especially Paul, played off of him. John was the foundaton upon which the others could build their various Beatle personalities.
Paul, George and even Ringo have done some very nice solo work over the years, but they ceased to be Beatles when the Beatles died. John never did. John wasn’t a Beatle, he was the Beatle, and all of his protestations to the contrary rang false. The more he tried to deny his Beatlehood – his Beatlehead – the more it bore into him and made him miserable.
The alcoholic’s denial that he isn’t one only delays the inevitable encounter with reality. Denial makes it ever harder to survive that encounter. But John did survive it and finally realized he did believe in Beatles, as well as John, because they were one and the same.
John did make some music that equaled his Beatle music, just listen to Lennon Legend: even the early, angry stuff takes on a whole new resonance in light of Double Fantasy. “Instant Karma” is balanced by “Watching the Wheels”; the sloganeering of “Give Peace A Chance” is balanced by the concrete, personal action of “(Just Like) Starting Over.” The dry existentialism of “Imagine” (though still beautiful) is countered by the surpasssing spirituality of “Beautiful Boy.”
The vision is no longer, “Imagine all the people, Living for today,” it’s
- “I can hardly wait
To see you come of age
But I guess we’ll both
Just have to be patient
Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you’re busy
Making other plans
John was able to compact the world down from a circumference of 27,000 miles to the circumference of his son’s hand, losing nothing in the process. Then we lost him.
Producer/engineer Thom Panunzio recalled his first encounter with John Lennon in a discussion we had a few years ago:
Panunzio decided to pursue a career in knob-twirling magic in ’74 (one year short of college graduation) and set up an interview at Manhattan’s famed Record Plant through a friend who was a receptionist there.
“They didn’t really hire me at first; I just never left after the interview. There’s always something you can do for people in a recording studio, so I started doing errands and favors for all these great guys: Jimmy Iovine, Jack Douglas, Bob Ezrin, Shelly Yakus,” he said.
“After a couple of weeks of showing up every day, they decided to hire me. Normally you’d start as a runner; then you’d work in the tape library; then, if you didn’t lose too many tapes, they’d let you learn how to make tape copies. They let me skip the first two jobs, and I started running the tape copy room – I guess because I’d shown that I was responsible.
“One day I got knock on the door and it was Roy Cicala, one of the owners of the studio and John Lennon’s engineer. He said, ‘Thom, come with me,’ and the next thing I knew I was in the middle of a John Lennon session. Jimmy Iovine was the assistant and he wasn’t there, so they needed someone to fill-in for him.
“You have to understand, the Beatles changed my life and here I was working with John Lennon, my favorite Beatle. I was in awe. I had never worked on a session before. I had no idea what the protocol was. I knew where the tapes were kept and that was about it.
“The rock ‘n’ roll gods blessed me – John was fantastic. He was one of the biggest stars in the world, I was a green kid, and he took the time to teach me everything I needed to know to function in the studio: how to set the mikes up, how to run the recorder (‘Don’t go that far back on the tape. We’re working on the chorus, you only go back to a little before the chorus’). He explained all of this to me very calmly. I’ll never forget it.”
I would imagine not.