Wednesday, December 08, 2010


It Was 30 Years Ago Today...

...that the music died.

Forgive the musical mixed allusion (and a borrowed title).  But December 8th, 1980 is burned into my memory -- as it is for millions of others.  I was one of many watching Monday Night Football -- and working on some long-forgotten report  -- when Howard Cosell interrupted the telecast shortly before midnight with news that John Lennon had been shot and killed.

While I had heard before how ABC got the information (a newsdesk guy had been in a motorcycle accident and was in the same hospital when Lennon was brought in), I only just learned how close it was to not getting relayed to the MNF.

Go to the OTL link and click on the "Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell" segment. Amazingly, Cosell was the guy with the sports journalism background and Cosell was the "jock," Cosell didn't want to break in with the news!! During a commercial break, after getting the information from a producer, Cosell tells his colleagues off-air, "Fellas, I don't know. I'd like your opinion. I can't see this game situation [Miami and New England tied going into overtime.] allowing for this newsflash. Can you?" Gifford was the one with the right instincts and tells Cosell to go for it: "Don't hang on it. It's a tragic moment and this is going to shake up the whole world."  

No kidding. One of the top musical voices of a generation had died in a shockingly violent manner -- in a manner as opposite from the philosophy he tried to convey through his life. That evening was in the winter of my senior year in high school. It was one of those moments when you start realizing how unpredictable and unfair life can be at times.


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