John Lennon sent touching message to old friend hours before death

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This week would have marked the 82nd birthday of John Lennon. The Beatles star was born on October 9, 1940, and spent the best part of his early years in Liverpool, England. Just before his assassination in 1980, Lennon was approached by an old friend from Liverpool who wanted to rekindle their relationship and do some work together. The Imagine singer sent back a touching message just before his tragic death.

Express.co.uk exclusively spoke to the legendary photographer Ian Wright about his life and legacy while promoting the reopening of The Stockton Globe.

When Wright was just a boy he grew up alongside The Beatles, and even took stunning photos of the band while they were performing as relative nobodies in the music industry. In particular, he had a great connection with Lennon. Wright even recalled being playfully teased by Lennon over riding his bike everywhere through Liverpool.

In 1980, the photographer was working for The Times and The Sunday Times in New York – just around the corner from Lennon’s home, The Dakota, where he lived with his wife, Yoko Ono.

Wright’s editor at the time knew he had a connection with Lennon so asked him to reach out and confirm an exclusive chat with him.

Wright told us: “I was going out of town that weekend. I sent a courier round to The Dakota building [with a telegram]. It just said: ‘John Lennon, you remember me? Wrighty, the kid on the bike!'”

Wright’s telegram told Lennon how he wanted to take his photo for a magazine article in the coming days. After sending the message, the photographer went on his trip out of New York.

“I got back on the Sunday [7th December], but I didn’t go back into the office until Tuesday morning – and by this time he had been murdered [on Monday, December 8th].”

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Lennon was shot in the back four times outside his home on October 8, 1980, at approximately 10:50pm.

His murderer, Mark David Chapman, then stood and waited for the police to arrive after Lennon’s doorman wrestled the gun from his hand.

The following day, on Tuesday, October 9th, the news had already spread across the world.

Wright returned to his office to find a handwritten letter from Lennon in response to the telegram he originally sent to the Beatle. He said he “still had” the memo before recalling what it said, verbatim.

Lennon wrote to Wright: “Here, I’m living with Yoko [Ono] at The Dakota apartments. I’d love to do it, phone me,” alongside a private phone number for the photographer to follow up with.

The journalist clarified: “He sent it to me on the Sunday, the day before he was murdered.”

As a lifelong friend of Lennon, Wright was naturally devastated by the news of the star’s death. He recalled he had to take some time away from his workplace to come to terms with what had happened.

Wright said: “I took the written transcription, and I just went down the corridor, I went to the gent’s bog and I cried my bl***y eyes out. I lost a good mate. He never forgot the kid on the bike.”

On the night he was attacked, Lennon was rushed to the Roosevelt Hospital. When he arrived he was not breathing and had no pulse. He was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:15pm on December 8, 1980.

Lennon’s death sent shockwaves around the world. After the news was announced, Lennon’s widow Yoko submitted a statement telling of a vigil for the late star.

The statement read: “There is no funeral for John. Later in the week, we will set the time for a silent vigil to pray for his soul. We invite you to participate from wherever you are at the time … John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him. Love. Yoko and Sean.”

George Harrison also released a statement: “After all we went through together, I had and still have great love and respect for him. I am shocked and stunned. To rob a life is the ultimate robbery in life. The perpetual encroachment on other people’s space is taken to the limit with the use of a gun. It is an outrage that people can take other people’s lives when they obviously haven’t got their own lives in order.”

Lennon’s 1981 album Double Fantasy went on to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

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