John Lennon

Remembering A Man Who Radically Changed My Life With His

December 9, 1980

I had awakened early on this morning. I had to take my wife's car into the shop to have the well-worn tires replaced and wanted to get in right away so I didn't have to wait long.

It was an absolutely beautiful Florida day in December, with a bright, clear sky and cool breeze. I was feeling very satisfied with life and it seemed good, with a wonderful wife, a one year old daughter, a good church we were attending, a job that paid well. It seemed like it was just a stellar morning. It felt so good to be alive.

After checking my car in at the tire shop, I took a seat in the waiting room. It wouldn't take long since I was next in line so I chose to stay rather then come back later. The seat I found was by a large plate glass window which was directly in the early morning sunlight. As I sat down, that warmth from the sun engulfed me, making the already wonderful morning just that much better. It was a feeling of peace, love, happiness, satisfaction, joy...a feeling that nothing could do anything to disturb this bliss I was experiencing. Little did I know....

There was a newspaper on the seat next to me and, to pass the time, I picked it up and turned to the back page. I have always been one of those people who reads things from the back to front. So I read the classified ads first and started working my way forward. Finally, I flipped the paper over to the front page and my heart almost stopped.

There, in letters as large as when we went to war in 1941, were words I couldn't believe. Words that shattered the peace, happiness, and bliss I had been enjoying for the first time in a life that had almost ended for me ten years earlier due to drug abuse and potential suicide before Jesus stepped in and changed it so radically. These words were shouting something at me that I just couldn't accept:


I couldn't believe it. It couldn't be true. I was so light-headed at the sudden loss of blood draining out of my head that I was sure the words didn't say this. It had to be a mistake that my brain was making! But as my mind began to clear, I realized that there were tears running down my cheeks. The words were there. And the truth that they conveyed were a cold, hard, ugly fact that I now had to deal with. One of my heroes in life was dead. And that death was a harsh, cruel, hateful death at the hands of a mentally disturbed man. My peaceful day was now destroyed by the murder of a world icon and a man who had radically changed my life sixteen years before.

Now, this may seem like an overreaction to the death of a famous man, a celebrity who was as controversial with his life as talented. But you have to understand that in 1964, as a 12 year-old boy, watching this man and his musical ensemble on television, something was birthed in my soul that changed the direction of my life forever. And that change would dominate my life so, that in the coming years, I would walk steps after this man's own, that would lead to such occurrences that would nearly end my life, and those experiences would cause me to run head on into my Creator and THAT would change my life again forever. You can almost say, that John Lennon is responsible for me finding God. And if that is true, I am eternally grateful to him for that.

I put the newspaper down. Still in a haze, I looked around the empty room to see if anyone else was there. I was alone in my shock. My car was finished quickly and as soon as I drove out of the parking lot, I turned the radio on. It was all abuzz about Lennon's death. I had noticed on the short drive from my house to the tire store, that they had played two John Lennon songs back-to-back but the announcer had said nothing in between the songs. At the time, I didn't watch much TV at night (still don't) so I had missed the late night interruptions that had announced his death. Since I got up early to get the car in, I had forgone turning on the television. So the newspaper article was the first I had seen or heard of his tragic end.

You have to understand, seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, 9 February, 1964, did change my life, as it did so many others. I purposed from that evening that I was going to be a musician. That was what I was going to do with my life. I HAD to do that. I knew that I did not have a choice. This was not just a desire, it was a destiny that had been determined for me by some other force or entity, be it Lennon, or fate, or chance, or a hand bigger than mine...whatever it was, I stood in front of that television set stunned by the music that was being broadcast. My life had been changed forever by this man John Lennon and his band.

The Beatles performing on The Ed Sullivan Show February 9, 1964

Oh, but you still don't understand. From that night on, everything changed for me. I was in Junior High school at the time and the next day, I went to school with my hair combed down from it's normal greased up Little Richard-style pompadour, to the soon-to-be-called Beatle haircut. Man, you would have thought I had shown up to school naked. I almost got thrown out. But the day after that, more boys started to comb down their hair and the school could do nothing about it. Over the next year, my whole life became consumed with music. I already played saxophone in the school band, but now everything revolved around rock music. I read about music. I bought all the new-music-scene magazines and brought them to school to read them between class, sometimes IN class. I also brought to school a transistor radio so I could hear all the new music every single moment I could. I found a store that sold "stove-pipe" trousers, just like the Beatles wore, and was the first in my school to wear them. Then after much searching, I found a local store that had imported Beatle boots with two inch heels, exactly like those the Beatles wore. So there I was, setting the trends that parents hated, schools now had to tolerate, my school mates emulated and the girls loved. I WAS a Beatle!

The Beatles in "stove pipe" trousers and "Beatle Boots"
This continued into high-school with new experiences and added dangers. I put together my first rock band...actually, I stole musicians from another band and formed my own. We were good and everyone told us we would "make it". But with that band came excessive drinking and substance abuse. We couldn't yet get the drugs that rock musicians were taking so our guitarist turned us onto sniffing. That same man would open my life up to hell, when on the evening of his first LSD trip, he took me along for the ride. That lead to pot, mescaline, hashish, and everything else of the day. I became hopelessly physically and mentally hooked on illegal drugs and my life took a high-speed spiral downward. So unraveled I became, that I could not find my way back to sanity. Tested at near genius IQ in my youth, now in college, I was failing all classes, causing me to fall out of phase with the draft board, making me eligible for Viet Nam. One night, I had a premonition. I saw myself die in Viet Nam. It was a vision of my future, if I continued down the road I was on. That same night, my girl friend broke up with me. The life I had walked from the moment I saw the Beatles was now crashing down around me and even with all my so-called intelligence, I couldn't do a thing to stop the destruction from happening.

The next morning, I awoke to the manic havoc of one whose life was quickly ending. And that's all I could think of....ending it. But in that turmoil of extreme emotion and the shouting voices in my head to end that gift of life and do it quickly, suddenly, a different voice spoke. When this voice spoke, all the others abruptly shut up. I didn't recognize this voice. I had never heard it before. I didn't know it from the past. I was not a religious person, having grown up in a non-religious home. The only "religion" I was familiar with were those of eastern origins that I had followed Lennon into. As he discovered, they were just foolishness invented by man and lead by corrupt power hungry men. But this voice was different. It was low volume, but spoke with extreme authority. So much so that all those other voices shut up and ran away from it's presence. I listened. The voice said that I had tried everything else, but I had not tried Him. I didn't know who the Him was, but I agreed that that statement was true. That's all the voice said.

As I sat on the floor, I suddenly remembered that I had been given a book of prayers once when I had briefly attended a church with neighbors when I was 13. I still had that book and tore open the drawer it was in, finding in it a "Prayer for yourself in time of need." Praying that prayer several times, I tacked on a personal, and pretty much impossible-to-answer, request at the end and collapsed back on the floor. Within 30 minutes, that request was answered exactly as asked, in what can only be called a truly miraculous way, which would so affect my life by another Man even more than John Lennon had.

That man is Jesus, and that day in early 1970, He changed my life more than even John had. And the many decades since have been such a wonderful adventure. It's very easy to start on your own adventure in life by simply acknowledging that Jesus came, died, rose again and now sits at the right hand of God in Heaven. That's it.

Thank you John, for all the music and for being the man used by an unseen hand to lead me to the Man who would save my life from the mess I had made of it. I will be eternally grateful to both of you for that.

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