Listening to the radio today, hearing all those John Lennon tracks, remembering that fateful day back in December 1980 when he was shot dead. It wasn’t that long before that I started my part-time job working in my local record shop, Discovery, newly opened. I was at college and chairman of the student union, the latter more so for attracting the opposite sex. I had helped out with a mates disco as I had a lot of punk and indie records which he didn’t like much.
John Lennon had just released his comeback album ‘Double Fantasy‘ on the back of the single ‘(Just Like) Starting Over‘ which had done okay sales wise. It was like any other winter’s morning when I tuned into Radio One before setting off for Tresham College. I did wonder why they were playing Lennon followed by a Beatles track, then words to the effect ‘Lennon had been shot dead last night in New York’, echoed out. Even though I was into all the latest genre’s of music I had this acknowledgement of what The Beatles had achieved and stood for.
That day at college all the talk was of the death of Lennon, people were suddenly saying they’ve always been a big fan of his music. Though on quizzing some in the common room, most could only recollect the track ‘Imagine’. I was too young to remember The Beatles heyday but my first albums I owned were the ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ compilations in the aforementioned coloured vinyl’s. I had then back tracked and bought all their latter albums from ‘Rubber Soul’ onwards. It was more so for the sound that George Martin’s ground breaking production, even for me aged 16 I could see how influential it was.
After college I walked into Discovery Records, where the place was more busy than usual. It wasn’t my evening to work, but Pete the owner asked if I could help out. People were just coming into the shop and buying anything with John’s name on it. I was tasked with going through the Music Week red book (this was the music bible for all record shops – a catalogue everything released this far). I was tasked with trying to telephone through an order to E.M.I. & Warner Brothers order lines. This was as I remember almost impossible as every other shop in the land was doing the same.
The first weekend after his death in the shop it was like ‘money for nothing’, every other person was either buying or ordering something by Lennon or The Beatles. I assume this was not unlike when Elvis had died a couple of years earlier. That Christmas, ‘Lennon was on sale again’ by the bucket load. His singles did occupy three of the top four positions and his album sat at the top of the pile too. It certainly turned the usually good Christmas sales into an extremely profitable one.
I didn’t think I’d see the like of it again either, I was to be proved wrong. Well at the end of my time working in music industry back in November 1991 Freddie Mercury was taken away from us. It was very close to the Christmas retail period. The difference was those close to him knew it was a matter of time and even E.M.I. had geared up to another possible retail bonanza, which it most certainly was too. It does seem a long time ago but fortunately the music remains as do these memories.