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The Beatles fans will never forget the day John Lennon was murdered. On December 8, 1980, 40 years ago this month, Lennon was shot in front of the Dakota hotel in New York City whilst walking with his wife, Yoko Ono. Lennon’s death sent shockwaves throughout the showbiz world, and indeed the music industry. One of the harder parts of Lennon’s death for his family was the constant hounding from the press for comment shortly thereafter.
Close friend of Lennon and his family, Elliot Mintz, recently spoke out about his experience at the time.
In a long discussion he revealed he flew out to be with Yoko and Sean Lennon – the star’s son – to help with anything he could.
During this interview Mintz explained: “I wouldn’t say I managed the press, but I interacted with it. At the time of John’s death he had no manager, no agent, no publicist, no spokesperson, just a very few people on staff – and there were 500 phone calls flying into the downstairs office.
“Every time you hung up the phone, another light would light up. It was everyone from Barbara Walters wanting to come over to do an interview to every news agency wanting a comment and wanting to know how Yoko and Sean were, and it just fell on me to say something. I talked to hundreds of media people.”
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Mintz explained how Yoko told him to just be “truthful” about the situation.
She said he should not “try to turn John into some kind of saint or martyr, and I tried to give people what they needed in terms of coverage”.
He added: “You have to keep in mind, from a journalist’s point of view, there had never been a public figure in America who had been assassinated for their art.
“At the time, I felt the press handled it as best they could, and they certainly treated John respectfully in the first wave.”
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Although the event was traumatic and horrific for everyone closely involved, Mintz did reveal how Lennon’s death effected Yoko in an unexpected way.
He continued: “However, one thing that did change dramatically was respect for Yoko.
“Regardless of the things people had said over the years before. The understated and respectful way she elected to have his memory preserved – the creation of Strawberry Field, the unreleased work that was made more accessible to the public, and ‘The Lost Lennon Tapes,’ a radio series I hosted.
“And of course, she’s devoted a tremendous amount of time and tens of millions of dollars to philanthropic causes around the world. She doesn’t make a big to-do about it, but she signs the checks.”
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In the 40 years since Lennon’s death, Yoko has remained positive whilst discussing late husband.
She even revealed what his last words were during a 2007 version of Desert Island Discs.
Speaking about the day Lennon was shot, Yoko revealed: “I said, ‘Shall we go and have dinner before we go home?’
“John said, ‘No, let’s go home because I want to see Sean before he goes to sleep.’”
When Yoko was asked if Lennon said anything after he was shot, she replied with a whisper: “No.”
Lennon left behind two children, Sean who was five at the time, and Julian, from his first marriage, who was 17-years-old.
Julian was left out of Lennon’s will, while Sean received a large share of the singer’s estate.
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