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The Death of John Lennon – 8th December 1980

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The John Lennon Letters:

Edited and with an Introduction by Hunter Davies

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John Lennon

9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980

The last picture of John Lennon, posing with a fan on the day of his death

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The Assassination of John Lennon

On the evening of 8 December 1980, English musician John Lennon, formerly of the Beatles, was shot dead in the archway of the Dakota, his residence in New York City. The perpetrator was Mark David Chapman, an American Beatles fan who had travelled from Hawaii.

Chapman stated that he was angered by Lennon’s lifestyle and public statements, especially his much-publicised remark about the Beatles being “more popular than Jesus” and the lyrics of his later songs “God” and “Imagine“. Chapman also said he was inspired by the fictional character Holden Caulfield from J. D. Salinger‘s novel The Catcher in the Rye.

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John Lennon – Making of Imagine (song) – from Gimme Some Truth HD

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Chapman planned the killing over the course of several months and waited for Lennon at the Dakota on the morning of 8 December. During the evening, he met Lennon, who signed his copy of the album Double Fantasy. Lennon left with his wife, Yoko Ono, for a recording session at Record Plant Studio. Later that night, Lennon and Ono returned to the Dakota. As Lennon and Ono walked towards the archway entrance of the building, Chapman fired five hollow-point bullets from a .38 special revolver, four of which hit Lennon in the back. Chapman remained at the scene reading The Catcher in the Rye until he was arrested. Lennon was rushed to hospital in a police car where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

John Lennon signs an autograph for Mark Chapman

A worldwide outpouring of grief ensued on an unprecedented scale. Crowds gathered at Roosevelt Hospital and in front of the Dakota. People in nearby buildings placed lit candles in their windows,[1] and at least three Beatles fans committed suicide. Lennon was cremated at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, on 12 December; the ashes were given to Ono, who requested 10 minutes of silence around the world instead of holding a funeral. Chapman pleaded guilty to murdering Lennon and was given a sentence of 20-years-to-life imprisonment in an Upstate New York prison. He has been denied parole eleven times after he became eligible in 2000.

Events preceding the murder

8 December 1980

Portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz went to the Lennons’ apartment to do a photo shoot for Rolling Stone magazine.

Leibovitz promised them that a photo of the two of them together would make the front cover of the magazine. Leibovitz had taken several photos of John Lennon alone and one was originally set to be on the cover.

Leibovitz said, “Nobody wanted [Ono] on the cover”. Lennon insisted that both he and his wife be on the cover, and after taking the pictures, Leibovitz left their apartment at 3:30.  After the photo shoot, Lennon gave what would be his last interview, to San Francisco DJ Dave Sholin, for a music show to be broadcast on the RKO Radio Network.

John and Yoko RKO Interview December 8, 1980

At around 5 p.m., Lennon and Ono, delayed by a late limousine, left their apartment to mix the song “Walking on Thin Ice” (an Ono song featuring Lennon on lead guitar) at the Record Plant Studio

Murder

The Lennons spent several hours at the Record Plant studio before returning to the Dakota at approximately 10:50 p.m. Lennon had decided against dining out so he could be home in time to say goodnight to his son, before going on to the Stage Deli restaurant with Ono.

 The Lennons exited their limousine on 72nd Street instead of driving into the more secure courtyard of the Dakota.

The Dakota doorman Jose Perdomo and a nearby taxi driver saw Chapman standing in the shadows by the archway. The Lennons passed Chapman and walked toward the archway entrance of the building. As Ono passed by, Chapman nodded at her. As Lennon passed by, he glanced briefly at Chapman, appearing to recognise him from earlier.

Seconds later, Chapman withdrew a Charter Arms .38 caliber revolver that he had hidden in his coat pocket, took aim directly at the center of Lennon’s back and fired five hollow-point bullets at him in rapid succession, from a distance of about nine or ten feet (about 3 m).

Based on statements made that night by NYPD Chief of Detectives James Sullivan, numerous radio, television, and newspaper reports claimed at the time that, before firing, Chapman called out, “Mr. Lennon”, and dropped into a combat stance.

Later court hearings and witness interviews did not include either “Mr. Lennon” or the “combat stance” description. Chapman has said that he does not remember calling out to Lennon before he fired, and that Lennon did not turn around. He claimed to have taken a “combat stance” in a 1992 interview with Barbara Walters.

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One bullet missed Lennon and struck a window of the Dakota building. The other four hit Lennon in the back and shoulder, puncturing his left lung and left subclavian artery. Lennon, bleeding profusely from external wounds and from his mouth, staggered up five steps to the security/reception area where he said,:

“I’m shot! I’m shot!”

He then fell to the floor, scattering cassettes that he had been carrying. Perdomo ran inside and told concierge worker Jay Hastings that the attacker had dropped his gun on the pavement. Hastings first started to make a tourniquet, but upon ripping open Lennon’s blood-stained shirt and realising the severity of the musician’s multiple injuries, he covered Lennon’s chest with his uniform jacket, removed his blood-covered glasses, and summoned the police.

Chapman then removed his coat and hat in preparation for the arrival of police—to show he was not carrying any concealed weapons—and remained standing on West 72nd Street. Underneath his coat, he wore a promotional T-shirt for the musician Todd Rundgren’s album Hermit of Mink Hollow. Perdomo shouted at Chapman,

“Do you know what you’ve done?”,

to which Chapman calmly replied,

Yes, I just shot John Lennon.”

Officers Steven Spiro and Peter Cullen were the first policemen to arrive at the scene; they were at 72nd Street and Broadway when they heard a report of shots fired at the Dakota. The officers arrived around two minutes later and found Chapman standing very calmly on West 72nd Street. They reported that Chapman had dropped the revolver to the ground and was holding a paperback book, J. D. Salinger‘s The Catcher in the Rye. Later, he claimed,

“If you were able to view the actual copy of The Catcher in the Rye that was taken from me on the night of Dec. 8, you would find in it the handwritten words, ‘This is my statement.'”

They immediately put Chapman in handcuffs and placed him in the back seat of their squad car. Chapman made no attempt to flee nor resist arrest.

Officer Herb Frauenberger and his partner Tony Palma were the second team, arriving a few minutes later. They found Lennon lying face down on the floor of the reception area, blood pouring from his mouth and his clothing already soaked with it, with Hastings attending to him.

 Realizing the extent of Lennon’s injuries, the policemen decided not to wait for an ambulance and immediately carried Lennon into their squad car. He was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital on West 59th Street. Officer James Moran said they placed Lennon in the back seat.

Reportedly, Moran asked, “Are you John Lennon?” to which Lennon nodded and replied, “Yes.” According to another account by officer Bill Gamble, Lennon nodded slightly and tried to speak, but could only manage to make a gurgling sound, and lost consciousness shortly thereafter.

Resuscitation attempt

A few minutes before 11:00 p.m., Moran arrived at Roosevelt Hospital with Lennon in his squad car. Moran was carrying Lennon on his back and onto a gurney, demanding a doctor for a multiple gunshot wound victim. When Lennon was brought in, he was not breathing, and had no pulse. Three doctors, a nurse, and two or three other medical attendants worked on Lennon for 10 to 20 minutes in an attempt to resuscitate him.

As a last resort, the doctors cut open Lennon’s chest and attempted manual heart massage to restore circulation, but they quickly discovered that the damage to the blood vessels above and around Lennon’s heart from the multiple bullet wounds was too great.

Lennon had been shot four times at close range with hollow-point bullets

Three of the four bullets that struck Lennon’s back passed completely through his body and out of his chest, while the fourth lodged itself in his aorta beside his heart. One of the exiting bullets from his chest hit and became lodged in his upper left arm. Nearly all of them would have been fatal by themselves, because each bullet had ruptured vital arteries around the heart. Lennon had been shot four times at close range with hollow-point bullets and his affected organs—particularly his left lung and major blood vessels above his heart—were virtually destroyed upon impact.

Information regarding who operated on and attempted to resuscitate Lennon has varied. Many reports credit Stephan Lynn, the head of the Emergency Department at Roosevelt Hospital, with performing Lennon’s surgery. In 2005, Lynn recalled being the one massaging Lennon’s heart and attempting to resuscitate him for 20 minutes, that two other doctors were present, and that the three of them together declared Lennon’s death.

Conversely in 1990, Richard Marks, an emergency room surgeon at Roosevelt Hospital, stated he operated on Lennon, administered a “massive” blood transfusion, and provided heart massage to no avail.

“When I realized he wasn’t going to make it,” said Marks, “I just sewed him back up. I felt helpless.”

In 2015, surgeon David Halleran disputed the accounts of both Marks and Lynn, stating that the two doctors “didn’t do anything.” Halleran also stated that he did not realise who he was operating on initially, and that Lynn only came to assist him when he heard that it was Lennon. At the time, Halleran was a third-year general surgery resident at Roosevelt Hospital.

Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:15 p.m.,  but the time of 11:07 p.m. has also been reported.

Witnesses noted that the Beatles song “All My Loving” came over the hospital’s sound system at the moment Lennon was pronounced dead. His body was then taken to the city morgue at 520 First Avenue for an autopsy. The cause of death was reported on his death certificate as “hypovolemic shock, caused by the loss of more than 80% of blood volume due to multiple through-and-through gunshot wounds to the left shoulder and left chest resulting in damage to the left lung, the left subclavian artery, and both the aorta and aortic arch“.

 According to the report, even with prompt medical treatment, no person could have lived for more than a few minutes with multiple bullet wounds affecting all of the major arteries and veins around the heart.

Dr. Lynn informed Ono of her husband’s death. According to Lynn, Ono started sobbing and said, “Oh no, no, no, no … tell me it’s not true!” He said that Ono then lay down and began hitting her head against the floor, but calmed down when a nurse gave Lennon’s wedding ring to her.

His account is disputed by two of the nurses who were there. In a 2015 interview, Ono denied hitting her head on a concrete floor and stated that her chief concern at the time was to remain calm and take care of her son Sean. She was led away from Roosevelt Hospital by a policeman and Geffen Records’ president, David Geffen.

Read more: The Death of John Lennon -Wikipedia

See The Catcher in the Rye

See Mark Chapman

The John Lennon Letters:

Edited and with an Introduction by Hunter Davies

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Mark David Chapman – John Lennon’s Killer

Mark David Chapman

See The Catcher in the Rye

See John Lennon’s Murder

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Let Me Take You Down

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 Inside The Mind Of Mark David Chapman, The Man Who Shot John Lennon:

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Mark David Chapman (born May 10, 1955) is an American prison inmate who murdered John Lennon on December 8, 1980. Chapman shot Lennon outside The Dakota apartment building in New York City. Chapman fired at Lennon five times, hitting him four times in the back. Chapman later remained at the crime scene reading J. D. Salinger‘s novel The Catcher in the Rye until the police arrived and arrested him. Chapman repeatedly said that the novel was his statement.

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Interview With Mark David Chapman John Lennon’s Assassin

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Chapman’s legal team put forward an insanity defense based on expert testimony that he was in a delusional and possibly psychotic state at the time, but nearing the trial, Chapman instructed his lawyer that he wanted to plead guilty, based on what he had decided was the will of God. The judge allowed the plea change without further psychiatric assessment after Chapman denied hearing voices, and sentenced him to a prison term of twenty years to life with a stipulation that mental health treatment be provided. Chapman was imprisoned in 1981 and has been denied parole eight times amidst campaigns against his release

Personal background

Chapman was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1955.[1] His father, David Curtis Chapman, was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, and his mother, Diane Elizabeth (née Pease), was a nurse. His younger sister, Susan, was born seven years later. Chapman stated that as a boy, he lived in fear of his father, who he said was physically abusive towards his mother and unloving towards him. Chapman began to fantasize about having king-like power over a group of imaginary “little people” who lived in the walls of his bedroom. Chapman attended Columbia High School in Decatur, Georgia. By the time he was fourteen, Chapman was using drugs, skipping classes, and he once ran away from home to live on the streets of Atlanta for two weeks. He said that he was bullied at school because he was not a good athlete.[7]

In 1971, Chapman became a born again Presbyterian and distributed Biblical tracts. He met his first girlfriend named Jessica Blankenship. He began work as a YMCA summer camp counselor; he was very popular with the children, who nicknamed him “Nemo”. He won an award for Outstanding Counselor and was made assistant director.[7] Those who knew him in the caretaking professions unanimously called him an outstanding worker.[8] A friend recommended The Catcher in the Rye to Chapman, and the story eventually took on great personal significance for him, to the extent that he reportedly wished to model his life after its protagonist, Holden Caulfield.[7] After graduating from Columbia High School, Chapman moved for a time to Chicago and played guitar in churches and Christian nightspots while his friend did impersonations. He worked successfully for World Vision with Vietnamese refugees at a resettlement camp at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas, after a brief visit to Lebanon for the same work. He was named an area coordinator and a key aide to the program director, David Moore, who later said that Chapman cared deeply for the children and worked hard. Chapman accompanied Moore to meetings with government officials, and President Gerald Ford shook his hand.[8]

Chapman joined his girlfriend, Jessica Blankenship, as a student at Covenant College, an evangelical Presbyterian liberal arts college in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. However, Chapman fell behind in his studies and became obsessed with guilt over having an affair.[9][10] He started having suicidal thoughts and began to feel like a failure. He dropped out of Covenant College, and his girlfriend broke off their relationship soon after. He returned to work at the resettlement camp, but left after an argument. Chapman worked as a security guard, eventually taking a week-long course to qualify as an armed guard. He again attempted college but dropped out. He went to Hawaii and then began contemplating suicide.[9] In 1977, Chapman attempted suicide by carbon monoxide asphyxiation. He connected a hose to his car’s exhaust pipe, but the hose melted and the attempt failed. A psychiatrist admitted him to Castle Memorial Hospital for clinical depression. Upon his release, he began working at the hospital.[11] His parents began divorce proceedings, and his mother joined Chapman in Hawaii.[10]

In 1978, Chapman went on a six-week trip around the world, inspired partly by the film Around the World in Eighty Days, visiting Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Delhi, Beirut, Geneva, London, Paris and Dublin. He began a relationship with his travel agent, a Japanese-American woman named Gloria Abe. They married on June 2, 1979. Chapman went to work at Castle Memorial Hospital as a printer, working alone rather than with staff and patients. He was fired by the Castle Memorial Hospital, rehired, then got into a shouting match with a nurse and quit. He took a job as a night security guard and began drinking heavily.[11] Chapman developed a series of obsessions, including artwork, The Catcher in the Rye, music, and John Lennon. He also started talking with the imaginary ‘little people’ again. In September 1980, he wrote a letter to a friend, Lynda Irish, in which he stated, “I’m going nuts.” He signed the letter, “The Catcher in the Rye”.[12] Chapman had no criminal convictions up to this point.[13]

Plan to murder John Lennon

Chapman allegedly started planning to kill Lennon up to three months prior to the murder.

He had been a big Beatles fan, idolizing Lennon, and played guitar himself, but turned on him after becoming born-again; he was angered at Lennon’s comment that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” In the South, there were demonstrations, album burnings, boycotts, and projectiles were thrown. Some members of Chapman’s prayer group made a joke “It went, ‘Imagine, imagine if John Lennon was dead.'”[10] Chapman’s childhood friend Miles McManushe recalls his referring to the song as “communist”. Jan Reeves, sister of one of Chapman’s best friends, reports that Chapman “seemed really angry toward John Lennon, and he kept saying he could not understand why John Lennon had said it [that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus]. According to Mark, there should be nobody more popular than the Lord Jesus Christ. He said it was blasphemy.”[14]

Chapman had later also been influenced by reading in a library book (John Lennon: One Day at a Time by Anthony Fawcett) about Lennon’s life in New York. According to his wife Gloria, “He was angry that Lennon would preach love and peace but yet have millions [of dollars].” Chapman later said that “He told us to imagine no possessions, and there he was, with millions of dollars and yachts and farms and country estates, laughing at people like me who had believed the lies and bought the records and built a big part of their lives around his music.”[15]

He said that he chose Lennon after seeing him on the cover of The Beatles’ album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He also recalls having listened to Lennon’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album in the weeks before the murder and has stated: “I would listen to this music and I would get angry at him, for saying that he didn’t believe in God… and that he didn’t believe in the Beatles. This was another thing that angered me, even though this record had been done at least 10 years previously. I just wanted to scream out loud, ‘Who does he think he is, saying these things about God and heaven and the Beatles?’ Saying that he doesn’t believe in Jesus and things like that. At that point, my mind was going through a total blackness of anger and rage. So I brought the Lennon book home, into this The Catcher in the Rye milieu where my mindset is Holden Caulfield and anti-phoniness.”[15]

Chapman also said that he had a further list of people in mind, including Johnny Carson, Marlon Brando, Walter Cronkite, Elizabeth Taylor, George C. Scott, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, but that John Lennon seemed to be the easiest to find. He separately said that he was particularly infatuated by Lennon. He also considered committing suicide by jumping from the Statue of Liberty.[16] Chapman’s planning has been described as ‘muddled’.[17] Chapman went to New York in October 1980, intending to kill Lennon.[12] He left for a short while in order to obtain ammunition from his unwitting friend in Atlanta, Dana Reeves, and returned to New York in November.

After being inspired by the film Ordinary People, Chapman returned to Hawaii, telling his wife he had been obsessed with killing Lennon. He showed her the gun and bullets, but she did not inform the police or mental health services. He made an appointment to see a clinical psychologist, but before it occurred he flew back to New York, on December 6, 1980.[10] Chapman says that the message “Thou Shalt Not Kill” flashed on the TV at him, and was also on a wall hanging put up by his wife in their apartment; on the night before the murder, Chapman and his wife discussed on the phone about getting help with his problems by first working on his relationship with God.[15]

On December 7, 1980, the day before the killing, Chapman accosted singer-songwriter James Taylor at the 72nd Street subway station. According to Taylor, “The guy had sort of pinned me to the wall and was glistening with maniacal sweat and talking some freak speak about what he was going to do and his stuff with how John was interested, and he was going to get in touch with John Lennon.”[18] He also reportedly offered cocaine to a taxi driver.[10]

Murder of John Lennon

Further information: Death of John Lennon

The entrance to the Dakota building where Lennon was shot

On December 8, 1980, Chapman left his room at the Sheraton Hotel, leaving personal items behind which the police would later find, and bought a copy of The Catcher in the Rye in which he wrote “This is my statement”, signing it “Holden Caulfield“. He then spent most of the day near the entrance to The Dakota apartment building where Lennon and Yoko Ono lived, talking to fans and the doorman. Early in the morning, a distracted Chapman missed seeing Lennon step out of a cab and enter the Dakota. Later in the morning, Chapman met Lennon’s housekeeper who was returning from a walk with their five-year-old son Sean. Chapman reached in front of the housekeeper to shake Sean’s hand and said that he was a beautiful boy, quoting Lennon’s song “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)“. Around 5:00 p.m., Lennon and Ono left The Dakota for a recording session at Record Plant Studios. As they walked toward their limousine, Chapman shook hands with Lennon and asked for him to sign a copy of his album, Double Fantasy.[19] Photographer Paul Goresh took a photo of Lennon signing Chapman’s album. Chapman reported that, “At that point my big part won and I wanted to go back to my hotel, but I couldn’t. I waited until he came back. He knew where the ducks went in winter, and I needed to know this” (a reference to The Catcher in the Rye).

Around 10:49 p.m., the Lennons’ limousine returned to the Dakota. Lennon and Ono got out, passed Chapman and walked toward the archway entrance of the building. From the street behind them, Chapman fired five shots from a .38 special revolver, four of which hit Lennon in the back and left shoulder. The death certificate[20] gives the following description: “Multiple gunshot wounds of left shoulder and chest; Left lung and left subclavian artery; External and internal hemorrhage. Shock.”

At the time, one newspaper reported that, before firing, Chapman softly called out “Mr. Lennon” and dropped into a crouched position.[21] Chapman said that he does not recall saying anything and that Lennon did not turn around.[22]

Chapman remained at the scene, appearing to be reading The Catcher in the Rye, until the police arrived. The New York City Police Department officers who first responded, recognizing that Lennon’s wounds were severe, decided to transport him to Roosevelt Hospital. Chapman was arrested without incident. In his statement to police three hours later, Chapman stated, “I’m sure the big part of me is Holden Caulfield, who is the main person in the book. The small part of me must be the Devil.”[20] Lennon was pronounced dead by Dr. Stephan Lynn at 11:07 p.m. at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center.

Legal process

Chapman was charged with second degree murder. When asked why he used hollow-pointed bullets, Chapman responded “because they are more deadly” and “to ensure Lennon’s death.”[23]

Gloria Chapman, who had known of Chapman’s preparations for killing Lennon, hired an attorney who stated at a press conference: “Gloria did not do anything or participate in any way in this trip in a knowing way or in a way in which she did consciously in any way lend any support to Mark’s actions”.[24][25]

Mental state assessment

More than a dozen psychologists and psychiatrists studied Chapman in the six months before the scheduled trial – three for the prosecution, six for the defense and several more on behalf of the court – involving batteries of tests and over 200 hours of clinical interviews. None concluded that he was feigning or malingering. In fact, Chapman cooperated more with the prosecution experts than the defense. The court experts who examined Chapman at Bellevue Hospital concluded that he was delusional yet competent to stand trial. However their report stated that he “may continue to have psychotic episodes” and warned of “fluctuations of mood and…cooperation” with his legal counsel.

The six defense experts declared that Chapman was psychotic (five making a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and one of psychotic manic depression) while the three prosecution experts declared that his delusions fell short of psychosis and instead diagnosed various personality disorders.

Chapman was also seen by religious officials, initially by Rev. Charles McGowan, pastor of Chapman’s old church Chapel Woods Presbyterian, which resulted in Chapman renewing his belief in God and Satan. However they fell out when McGowan released personal details to the media, and for the time being Chapman returned to emphasizing The Catcher in the Rye and wanting a trial to publicize it further.[26]

Plea

Lawyer Herbert Adlerberg was assigned to represent Chapman but, amid threats of lynching, withdrew. Police feared that Lennon fans might storm the hospital so they transferred Chapman to Rikers Island.[27]

In January 1981, at the initial hearing, Chapman’s new lawyer, Jonathan Marks, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. In February, Chapman sent a handwritten statement to The New York Times urging everyone to read The Catcher in the Rye, calling it an “extraordinary book that holds many answers.”[28] The defense team sought to establish witnesses as to Chapman’s mental state at the time of the killing.[29] It was reported they were confident he would be found not guilty by reason of insanity, in which case he would have been committed to a state mental hospital and received treatment.

However, in June, Chapman told Marks he wanted to drop the insanity defense and plead guilty. Marks objected with “serious questions” over Chapman’s sanity, and legally challenged his competence to make this decision. In the pursuant hearing on June 22, Chapman said that God had told him to plead guilty and that he would not change his plea or ever appeal, regardless of his sentence. Marks told the court that he opposed Chapman’s change of plea but that Chapman would not listen to him. Judge Dennis Edwards refused a further assessment, saying that Chapman had made the decision of his own free will, and declared him competent to plead guilty.

Sentencing

On August 24, 1981, the sentencing hearing took place. Two experts gave evidence on Chapman’s behalf. Judge Edwards interrupted Dorothy Otnow Lewis, a research psychiatrist then relatively inexperienced in the courtroom, indicating that the purpose of the hearing was to determine the sentence and that there was no question of Chapman’s criminal responsibility. Lewis has maintained that Chapman’s decision to change his plea did not appear reasonable or explicable, and she implies the judge did not want to allow an independent competency assessment.[32] The district attorney argued that Chapman committed the murder as an easy route to fame. When Chapman was asked if he had anything to say, he rose and read the passage from The Catcher in the Rye, when Holden tells his little sister, Phoebe, what he wants to do with his life:

Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.

The judge ordered psychiatric treatment in prison and sentenced Chapman to 20-years-to-life, 5 years less than the maximum sentence of 25-years-to-life.[33] Chapman was given five years less than the maximum because he pled guilty to second degree murder, thereby avoiding the time and expense of a trial.

Imprisonment

In 1981, Chapman was imprisoned at Attica, outside of Buffalo, New York. After Chapman fasted for 26 days in February 1982, the New York State Supreme Court authorized the state to force feed him. Martin Von Holden, the director of the Central New York Psychiatric Center, said that Chapman still refused to eat with other inmates but agreed to take liquid nutrients.[34] Chapman was confined to a Special Handling Unit (SHU) for violent and at-risk prisoners, in part due to concern that he might be harmed by Lennon’s fans in the general population. There were 105 prisoners in the building who were “not considered a threat to him,” according to the New York State Department of Correctional Services. He had his own prison cell, but spent “most of his day outside his cell working on housekeeping and in the library.”[35]

Chapman worked in the prison as a legal clerk and kitchen helper. He was barred from participating in the Cephas Attica workshops, a charitable organization which helps inmates to adjust to life outside prison. He was also prohibited from attending the prison’s violence and anger management classes due to concern for his safety. Chapman reportedly likes to read and write short stories. At his parole board hearing in 2004, he described his plans; “I would immediately try to find a job, and I really want to go from place to place, at least in the state, church to church, and tell people what happened to me and point them the way to Christ.” He also said that he thought that there was a possibility he could find work as a farmhand or return to his previous trade as a printer.[36] The Daily Mirror reported he wanted to set up a church with his wife.[37]

Chapman is in the Family Reunion Program, and is allowed one conjugal visit a year with his wife,[38] since he accepted solitary confinement. The program allows him to spend up to 42 hours alone with his wife in a specially built prison home. He also gets occasional visits from his sister, clergy, and a few friends. In 2004, James Flateau, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Correctional Services, said that Chapman had been involved in three “minor incidents” between 1989 and 1994 for delaying an inmate count and refusing to follow an order.[39] Chapman was transferred to the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, New York, which is east of Buffalo, on May 15, 2012.[6]

Parole applications and campaigns

Denied Parole for Seventh Time ABC News

As the result of his sentence of 20 years to life, Chapman first became eligible for parole in 2000, and is entitled to a hearing every two years. Since that time, Chapman has been denied parole eight times by a three-member board. Shortly before Chapman’s first hearing, Yoko Ono sent a letter to the board opposing his release from prison.[40][41] In addition, New York State Senator Michael Nozzolio, chairman of the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee, wrote to Parole Board Chairman Brion Travis saying: “It is the responsibility of the New York State Parole Board to ensure that public safety is protected from the release of dangerous criminals like Chapman.”[42]

At the 50-minute hearing in 2000, Chapman said that he was not a danger to society. The parole board concluded that releasing Chapman would “deprecate the seriousness of the crime and serve to undermine respect for the law” and that Chapman’s granting of media interviews represented a continued interest in “maintaining your notoriety.” They noted that although Chapman had a good disciplinary record while in prison, he had been in the SHU and didn’t access “anti-violence and/or anti-aggression programming.”[43] Robert Gangi, a lawyer for the Correctional Association of New York, said that he thought it unlikely Chapman would ever be freed because the board would not risk the “political heat” of releasing Lennon’s killer.[44] In 2002, the parole board stated again that releasing Chapman after 22 years in prison would “deprecate the seriousness” of the crime, and that while his behavioral record continued to be positive, it was no predictor of his potential community behavior.[45] The parole board held a third hearing in 2004, and declined parole yet again. One of the reasons given by the board was having subjected Ono to “monumental suffering by her witnessing the crime.” Another factor was concern for Chapman’s safety; several Lennon fans had threatened to kill him if he were released. Ono’s letter opposing his release stated that Chapman would not be safe outside of prison. The board reported that its decision was based on the interview, a review of records and deliberation.[35] Around 6,000 people had signed an online petition against Chapman’s release by this time.[46]

In October 2006, the parole board held a 16-minute hearing and concluded that his release would not be in the best interest of the community or his own personal safety.[47][48] On December 8, 2006, the 26th anniversary of Lennon’s death, Yoko Ono published a one-page advertisement in several newspapers saying that December 8 should be a “day of forgiveness,” and that she was not yet sure if she was ready to forgive Chapman.[49] Chapman’s fifth hearing was on August 12, 2008. He was denied parole “due to concern for the public safety and welfare.”[50] On July 27, 2010, in advance of Chapman’s scheduled sixth parole hearing, Ono said that she would again oppose parole for Chapman stating that her safety, that of John’s sons, and Chapman’s would be at risk. She added, “I am afraid it will bring back the nightmare, the chaos and confusion [of that night] once again.”[51] On August 11, 2010, the parole board postponed the hearing until September, stating that it was awaiting the receipt of additional information to complete Chapman’s record.[52] On September 7, the board denied Chapman’s latest parole application, with the panel stating “release remains inappropriate at this time and incompatible with the welfare of the community.”[5]

It was announced on August 18, 2012, that Chapman would have his seventh parole hearing the week beginning August 20.[53] However, Chapman was denied parole by a three-member board who stated, “Despite your positive efforts while incarcerated, your release at this time would greatly undermine respect for the law and tend to trivialize the tragic loss of life which you caused as a result of this heinous, unprovoked, violent, cold and calculated crime.”[54] Chapman’s eighth parole application was denied in August 2014. At the hearing, Chapman said, “I am sorry for being such an idiot and choosing the wrong way for glory.”[55] “I have peace now in Jesus,” he continued. “He has forgiven me and loves me. He has helped me in my life like you wouldn’t believe.”[citation needed] Chapman’s next scheduled parole hearing will be in August 2016.

Impact

Following the murder, and for the first six years in Attica, Chapman refused all requests for interviews. James R. Gaines interviewed him and wrote a three-part, 18,000-word People magazine series in February and March 1987.[26][56][57] Chapman told the parole board he regretted the interview. Chapman later gave a series of audio-taped interviews to Jack Jones of the Democrat and Chronicle. In 1992 Jones published a book, Let Me Take You Down: Inside the Mind of Mark David Chapman, the Man Who Killed John Lennon.[58]

Also in 1992, Chapman gave two television interviews. On December 4, 1992, 20/20 aired an interview that he gave to Barbara Walters, his first television interview since the shooting.[59] On December 17, 1992, Larry King interviewed Chapman on his program Larry King Live.[60] In 2000, with his first parole hearing approaching, Jack Jones asked Chapman to tell his story for Mugshots, a CourtTV program. Chapman refused to go on camera but, after praying over it, consented to tell his story in a series of audiotapes.

Chapman’s experiences during the weekend on which he committed the murder have been turned into a feature-length movie called Chapter 27, in which he was played by Jared Leto. The film was written and directed by Jarrett Schaefer and is based on the Jones book. The film’s title is a reference to The Catcher in the Rye, which has 26 chapters.[61] Chapter 27 premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2007 and received polarized reactions from critics. The film had a limited release in theaters in the United States in March 2008.[62] Chapter 27 was released widely onto DVD on September 30, 2008. Another film was made before the feature film entitled The Killing of John Lennon starring Jonas Ball as Chapman, which documents Chapman’s life before and up to the murder and portrays Chapman in a somewhat sympathetic light. The film features Ball as Chapman narrating the film and states that all the words are Chapman’s own.

A number of conspiracy theories have been published, based on CIA and FBI surveillance of Lennon due to his left-wing activism, and on the actions of Mark Chapman in the murder or subsequent legal proceedings. Barrister and journalist Fenton Bresler[63] raised the idea in a book published in 1990.[64] Liverpool playwright Ian Carroll, who has staged a drama conveying the theory that Chapman was manipulated by a rogue wing of the CIA, suggests Chapman wasn’t so crazy that he couldn’t manage a long trip from Hawaii to New York shortly prior to the murder.[65] Claims include that Chapman was a Manchurian candidate, including speculation on links to the CIA’s Project MKULTRA. At least one author has argued that forensic evidence proves Chapman did not commit the murder,[66] while others have criticized the theories as based on possible or suspected connections and circumstances.

In 1982, Rhino Records released a compilation of Beatles-related novelty and parody songs, called Beatlesongs. It featured a cover caricature of Chapman by William Stout. Following its release, Rhino recalled the record and replaced it with another cover.[67] New York-based band Mindless Self Indulgence released a track entitled “Mark David Chapman” on their album If. Irish band The Cranberries recorded a song called “I Just Shot John Lennon,” for their 1996 album To the Faithful Departed. It cites events that took place outside the Dakota on the night of Lennon’s murder. The title of the song comes from Chapman’s own words.

Austin, Texas-based art rock band …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead have also released a song called “Mark David Chapman” from their 1999 album Madonna. Julian Cope‘s 1988 album Autogeddon contains a song called “Don’t Call Me Mark Chapman” whose lyrics suggest it is told from the point of view of Lennon’s murderer. Filipino band Rivermaya released a song called “Hangman (I Shot the Walrus)” on their album Atomic Bomb (1997), supposedly written from Mark Chapman’s point of view.[68]

Chapman’s obsession with the central character and message of the The Catcher in the Rye added to controversy about the novel. Some links have been drawn between Chapman’s and the book’s themes of adolescent sensitivity and depression on the one hand, and anti-social and violent thoughts on the other. This connection was made in the play Six Degrees of Separation and its film adaptation by the character played by Will Smith.[69]

Links have sometimes been drawn between Chapman’s actions and those of other killers or attempted killers. John Hinckley, who only months later tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, was also associated with The Catcher in the Rye. Further, John Hinckley’s father, John Hinckley, Sr, was president of World Vision, for whom Chapman was employed. More recently, a writer who experienced mental illness in the same city as Jared Loughner has suggested that examples such as Chapman’s show the need to challenge stigma about mental health problems and ensure there are good community mental health services including crisis intervention.

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Let Me Take You Down

Click image to buy this book

Inside The Mind Of Mark David Chapman, The Man Who Shot John Lennon:

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Cilla Black – 27 May 1943 – 2nd August 2015. Rest in Peace Legend

Cilla Black

CILLA BLACK ANYONE WHO HAD A HEART

Cilla Black OBE (born Priscilla Maria Veronica White, 27 May 1943 – 2 August 2015) was an English singer, actress, entertainer and media personality. Championed by The Beatles, she began her career as a singer in 1963, and her singles “Anyone Who Had a Heart” (1964) and “You’re My World” (1964) both reached number one.

Cilla Black – You’re My World

Black had eleven Top Ten hits on the British charts between 1964 and 1971. In May 2010 new research published by BBC Radio 2 showed that her version of “Anyone Who Had a Heart” was the UK’s biggest selling single by a female artist in the 1960s.

“You’re My World” was also a modest hit in the United States, peaking at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100, and both songs were among the chart-toppers in Australia.

Along with a successful recording career in the 1960s and early 1970s, Black hosted her own eponymous variety show, Cilla, for the BBC between 1968 and 1976. After a brief time as a comedy actress in the mid-1970s, she became a prominent television presenter in the 1980s and 1990s, hosting hit entertainment shows such as Blind Date (1985–2003) and Surprise Surprise (1984–2001).

In 2013, Black celebrated her 50 years in show business. British television network ITV honoured this milestone with a one-off Entertainment special which aired on 16 October 2013. The show, called The One & Only Cilla Black, featured Black herself and was hosted by Paul O’Grady.

Early life

Black was born in Liverpool, England, on 27 May 1943 and grew up in the Scotland Road area of the city. Her parents were John Patrick White and Priscilla Blythen. Black had a Welsh grandfather, Joseph Henry Blythen, who was born in Wrexham, Wales, and Irish great grandparents on her father’s and mother’s side of the family. She was raised in a Roman Catholic household, and attended St. Anthony’s School. which was behind St. Anthony’s Church in Scotland Road, and Anfield Commercial College, where she studied Shipping Management.

Determined to become an entertainer, Black got a part-time job as a cloakroom attendant at Liverpool’s Cavern Club, best known for its association with the Beatles. Her impromptu performances impressed the Beatles and others. She was encouraged to start singing by a Liverpool promoter, Sam Leach, who gave her her first gig at the Casanova Club, where she appeared as “Swinging Cilla”. She became a guest singer with the Merseybeat bands Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes and, later, with the Big Three. She was also a waitress at the Zodiac coffee lounge, where she was to meet her future husband Bobby Willis. Black was featured in an article in the first edition of the local music newspaper Mersey Beat; the paper’s publisher, Bill Harry, mistakenly referred to her as Cilla Black, rather than White, and she decided she liked the name, and took it as a stage name.

Music career

CILLA BLACK THE 1960’S

Black signed her first contract with a long-time friend and neighbour, Terry McCann, but this contract was never honoured as it was signed when she was under age and her father subsequently signed her with Brian Epstein.

Epstein had a portfolio of local artists. At first, he showed little interest in Black. She was introduced to Epstein by John Lennon, who persuaded him to audition her. Her first audition was a failure, partly because of nerves, and partly because the Beatles (who supported her) played the songs in their vocal key rather than re-pitching them for Black’s voice. In her autobiography What’s It All About? she writes:

I’d chosen to do “Summertime”, but at the very last moment I wished I hadn’t. I adored this song, and had sung it when I came to Birkenhead with the Big Three, but I hadn’t rehearsed it with the Beatles and it had just occurred to me that they would play it in the wrong key. It was too late for second thoughts, though. With one last wicked wink at me, John set the group off playing. I’d been right to worry. The music was not in my key and any adjustments that the boys were now trying to make were too late to save me. My voice sounded awful. Destroyed—and wanting to die—I struggled on to the end.

But after seeing her another day, at the Blue Angel jazz club, Epstein contracted with Black as his only female client on 6 September 1963. Epstein introduced Black to George Martin who signed her to Parlophone Records and produced her début single, “Love of the Loved” (written by Lennon and McCartney), which was released only three weeks after she contracted with Epstein. Despite an appearance on ABC-TV’s popular Thank Your Lucky Stars, the single peaked at a modest No.35 in the UK, a relative failure compared to début releases of Epstein’s most successful artists (the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas).

Black’s second single, released at the beginning of 1964, was a cover of the Burt BacharachHal David composition “Anyone Who Had a Heart“, which had been written for Dionne Warwick. The single beat Warwick’s recording into the UK charts and rose to No.1 in Britain in February 1964 (spending 3 weeks there), selling 800,000 copies in the UK in the process. Her second UK No.1 success, “You’re My World”, was an English language rendition of the Italian popular song “Il Mio Mondo”. She also enjoyed chart success with the song in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, South Africa and Canada. Both songs sold over one million copies worldwide, and were awarded gold discs.

Cilla Black – It’s For You (1964).

Black’s two No. 1 successes were followed by the release of another Lennon–McCartney composition, “It’s for You“, as her fourth UK single. Paul McCartney played piano at the recording session and the song proved to be another major international success for Black, peaking at No. 7 on the UK charts.

Black belonged to a generation of British female singers which included Dusty Springfield, Helen Shapiro, Petula Clark, Sandie Shaw and Lulu. These artists (other than Petula Clark) were not singer-songwriters but interpreters of 1960s contemporary popular music by song writers and producers. Black recorded much material during this time, including songs written by Phil Spector, Randy Newman, Tim Hardin and Burt Bacharach. All were produced by George Martin at Abbey Road Studios.

Cilla Black – “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”

Black’s version of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” (1965) reached No. 2 on the UK charts in the same week that the Righteous Brothers‘s original version of the same song went to No. 1 there (week of 4 February 1965). This was the first of only three occasions in the history of the British Top 40 where the same song, recorded by two different artists, held the top two positions in the chart in the same week. George Martin’s and Parlophone’s attempts to pull off the same trick that they had succeeded at with “Anyone Who Had a Heart”, taking a strong song released by an American artist hitherto unknown to British audiences and giving it to Cilla, did not succeed in the same successful fashion in February 1965 as it had twelve months earlier.

Being so closely associated with the Beatles, Black became one of a select group of artists in the 1964-65 period (the others in the same position being Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas and Peter and Gordon) to record more than one Lennon–McCartney composition. Black continued to record Lennon-McCartney compositions throughout the period (1963–1973) that she was under contract to EMI‘s Parlophone; Black’s recordings of “Yesterday“, “For No One” and “Across the Universe” were acclaimed critically and became radio favourites. McCartney said Black’s 1972 interpretation of “The Long and Winding Road” represented for him how he always intended the song to be sung.

Cilla Black – The Long and Winding Road 1973

Black’s career in the United States, although begun enthusiastically by Epstein and his PR team, was limited to a few television appearances (The Ed Sullivan Show among them), a 1965 cabaret season at the Plaza Hotel in New York, and success with “You’re My World”, which made it to No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was to be her only American chart success, and Elvis Presley had a copy on his personal jukebox at his Graceland home. Black herself recognised that to achieve popular status in the USA she would need to devote much time to touring there. But she was plagued by homesickness and a sense of loneliness and returned to the UK just as she was starting to become popular in the US.

During 1966, Black recorded the Bacharach-David song “Alfie“, written as the signature song to the 1966 feature film, Alfie. While Cher sang “Alfie” on the closing credits of the American release of the film and Millicent Martin on the UK version, Black was the first and only artist to have a hit with the song in the UK (No.9). “Alfie” went on to become a success for both Cher (in 1966) and Dionne Warwick (in 1967) in the States. Black’s version of “Alfie” was arranged and conducted by Bacharach himself at the recording session at Abbey Road. Bacharach insisted on several takes, and Black cited the session as one of the most demanding of her recording career.

For Bacharach’s part, he said “… there weren’t too many white singers around, who could convey the emotion that I felt in many of the songs I wrote but that changed with people like Cilla Black …”

By the end of 1966, Black had been a guest on Peter Cook and Dudley Moore‘s Not Only… But Also; appeared in a Ray GaltonAlan Simpson revue in London’s West EndWay Out in Piccadilly—alongside Frankie Howerd; made notable appearances on The Eamonn Andrews Show and starred in her own television special (the first of its kind to be filmed in colour), Cilla at the Savoy.

Epstein’s attempts to make Black a film actress were less successful. A brief appearance in the “beat” film Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey and a leading role alongside David Warner in the 1968 psychedelic comedy Work Is a Four-Letter Word were largely ignored by film critics. In a 1997 interview with Record Collector magazine, Black revealed she was asked to appear in the 1969 film The Italian Job, playing the part of Michael Caine‘s girlfriend, but negotiations fell through between producers and her management over her fee.

Epstein died of an accidental drug overdose in August 1967, not long after negotiating a contract with the BBC for his only female artist to appear in a television series of her own. Relations between Epstein and Black had somewhat soured during the year prior to his death, due largely to the fact that Epstein was not paying her career enough attention and the fact that Black’s singles “A Fool Am I” (UK No.13, 1966) and “What Good Am I?” (UK No.24, 1967) were not big successes.

Apparently Black was also unhappy with Epstein’s public admission that he had taken LSD. In her autobiography, Black claimed that Epstein had tried to pacify her by negotiating a deal that would see her representing the UK in the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest. However, Black refused on the basis that Sandie Shaw had won the previous year’s contest, and that the chances of another British female artist winning were improbable.

After the death of Epstein, Black’s boyfriend and songwriter Bobby Willis assumed management duties. After the relatively disappointing performance of “I Only Live to Love You” (UK No. 26, 1967), Black hit a new purple patch in her recording career, starting with “Step Inside Love” in 1968 (UK No. 8), which McCartney wrote especially for her as the theme for her new weekly BBC-TV variety series. Other successes followed in 1969: “Conversations” (UK No. 7), “Surround Yourself With Sorrow” (UK No. 3), “If I Thought You’d Ever Change Your Mind” (No. 20). Black had a further big hit with “Something Tells Me (Something’s Gonna Happen Tonight)” (UK No. 3) in 1971.

 

Black’s association with the Beatles continued. At a Cannes Film Festival during the 1970s, she joined George Harrison, Ringo Starr and popular music singer Marc Bolan to attend a screening of the John LennonYoko Ono experimental film Erection. She also holidayed with Harrison and Starr on a trip aboard a yacht chartered by Starr. “Photograph” was written on this trip—originally intended for Black to record—but Starr decided to record it himself. George Harrison also wrote two songs for Black: “The Light that has Lighted the World” and “I’ll Still Love You (When Every Song is Sung)”. The latter she recorded during 1974 with her then producer David Mackay, but it was not heard publicly until 2003 when it was included on a retrospective collection entitled Cilla: The Best of 1963–78.

In 1993 she released Through the Years, an album of new material featuring a number of duets with Dusty Springfield, Cliff Richard and Barry Manilow. Ten years later, she released the album Beginnings … Greatest Hits and New Songs.

In his 1969 study of popular music history Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom, the rock music journalist Nik Cohn wrote:

It’s true—the British don’t like their girl singers to be too good, they think it smacks of emancipation, and Cilla at least seemed safe. Obviously, she was quite a nice girl. Also, she was respectable and reliable, very clean and quite unsexy, and she played daughter or maybe kid sister, steady date or fiancée, but she played nobody’s mistress at all. She wasn’t like that. Everyone patronised her like hell, waiting for her to fall, but then she didn’t fall after all, she floated instead and she’s still up there now. She won’t ever come down either—she doesn’t sing much, she still comes on like a schoolgirl but she’s liked like that and she can’t go wrong. Genuinely, she’s warm and she makes people glow. In her time, she will grow into a pop Gracie Fields, much loved entertainer, and she’ll become institutionalised.

Black was the best-selling British female recording artist in the UK during the 1960s and released 15 studio albums and 37 singles in total. During 2006–07, Black’s 1971 single “Something Tells Me (Something’s Gonna Happen Tonight)” was used as the soundtrack to a new British advertising campaign for Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

During the 2008–09 pantomime season, Black returned to live musical performance in the pantomime Cinderella, appearing as the Fairy Godmother. Black was part of an all-Scouse cast assembled in this three-hour stage spectacular to mark the end of Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture. The show incorporated a number of Black’s successes, which she performed live, including “You’re My World”, “Something Tells Me (Something’s Gonna Happen Tonight)”, “Step Inside Love” and “Sing a Rainbow”. Black received rave reviews for her singing and overall performance.

On 7 September 2009, a total of 13 original studio albums (the first seven produced by George Martin) recorded by Black between 1963 and 2003 were released for digital download. These albums were all digitally remastered and featured an array of musical genres. Also released by EMI at the same time was a double album and DVD set, The Definitive Collection (A Life in Music), featuring rare BBC video footage; a digital download album of specially commissioned re-mixes Cilla All Mixed Up; a remixed single on digital download of “Something Tells Me (Something’s Gonna Happen Tonight)“.

For the 2010 winter pantomime season, Black appeared in Cinderella at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

In October 2013, Parlophone Records (the record label which launched her career in 1963) released the career-spanning CD The Very Best Of Cilla Black —containing all 19 of her UK Top 40 singles, new club remixes plus a bonus DVD of her 1966 TV music special Cilla at the Savoy.[17]

Cilla episode 1 full [ITV drama]

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Cilla Episode 2,

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Cilla Episode 3

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BAFTA’S 2014 Paul O’Grady Present Cilla Black With Lifetime Achivement Award

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Television career

BBC

Black was offered her own show on the BBC by Bill Cotton, then Assistant Head of Light Entertainment. The first series of Cilla was broadcast on Tuesday 30 January 1968. On the first show, her guest was Tom Jones and the two popular music stars sang a duet together. Paul McCartney (without Lennon) wrote the theme tune – another chart success for Black – entitled “Step Inside Love“. This song was later covered by Madeline Bell. The series was very popular and ran for almost a decade, racking up eight seasons (66 episodes) between January 1968 and April 1976.

Although it featured guest appearances by many famous stars of the era (including Cliff Richard, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Charles Aznavour, Ringo Starr, Lulu, Matt Monro, Sacha Distel, Donovan, Georgie Fame, Dusty Springfield, Ethel Merman, the Shadows, Phil Everly, Marc Bolan, Jimmy Tarbuck and Ronnie Corbett), most of the episodes (recorded on videotape) were subsequently erased by the BBC.

This success paved the way for a lengthy television career which continued intermittently until 2003. Black began the 1970s by appearing on the BBC’s highly rated review of the sixties music scene Pop Go The Sixties, performing “Anyone Who Had a Heart” live on the show broadcast across Europe and BBC1, on 31 December 1969. Black recorded her performance for this show separately, in a different studio without an audience, although she did sing live.

Like so many of her contemporaries, during the 1970s, Black’s musical career declined, although she toured often. Increasingly thought of as a television “personality”, she found herself experimenting with situation comedy for ITV. Her BBC series, Cilla, continued successfully until 1976, recessing during 1970, 1972 and 1975. The theme songs from the Cilla series were also successful. Step Inside Love opened the series in both the 1968 and 1969 runs and reached number 8 in the UK singles chart on its release. Something Tells Me (Something’s Gonna Happen Tonight) was the theme for the 1971 and 1973 shows, reaching number 3 and becoming Black’s last top ten success. “Baby, We Can’t Go Wrong” was used for the 1974 series and was a minor success, reaching number 36, Black’s last UK chart song until 1993. “It’s Now” was the final theme from the 1976 series and failed to reach the charts, though it was released as a “B” side.

The UK’s Eurovision Song Contest entry selection process was part of the Cilla show in both 1968 and 1973, when her close friend, Cliff Richard was the featured artist performing all the songs shortlisted in the A Song For Europe segment. Black was originally asked to sing for the UK in 1968 and was asked again for the 1970 contest, but declined because she was pregnant at the time.

In 2007, Black took part in the BBC Wales programme Coming Home about her Welsh family history, with roots in Wrexham and Holywell.

Comedy actress

On 15 January 1975, Black performed as the main entertainer of the first of six half-hour situation comedy plays. The series which was broadcast on ITV was entitled Cilla’s Comedy Six[20] and written by Ronnie Taylor. During May 1975, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain named Black as Britain’s Top Female Comedy Star. The following year, ATV was commissioned to film six more plays as the initial series had accrued healthy viewing figures and remained constantly among the best scoring three shows of the week. During August 1976, Black reprised her role as a comedy-actress in Cilla’s World of Comedy which featured her theme song and new single “Easy in Your Company”.

From 2013 to 2014, Black was set to co-star in a new BBC sitcom Led Astray, alongside Paul O’Grady – the pilot episode was recorded on 31 October 2013. However the show was shelved due to the pair being unable to cope with the long hours of filming.

London Weekend Television

By the beginning of the 1980s, Black was performing mainly in cabaret and concert and absent from television since a 1978 Thames Television special. In 1983, she appeared on the BBC’s Wogan programme. Her appearance on this peak-time talk show was a major success, and her career in television was resurrected. According to Christopher Biggins in his autobiography, she “stormed back into the public consciousness with a barnstorming performance as a guest on Wogan in 1983, proving that we can all have second chances” and after her appearance, people were “desperately trying to find her the right comeback vehicle”.

Black signed a contract with London Weekend Television, becoming the host of two of the most popular and long-running evening entertainment shows of the 1980s and 1990s—Blind Date (1985–2003) and Surprise Surprise (1984–2001). She also presented the game show The Moment of Truth (1998–2001). All programmes were mainstream ratings winners and consolidated her position as the highest-paid female performer on British television.

Les Dawson – Surprise, Surprise – I’ve Got You Babe

Her TV appearances made her spoken mannerisms (“Lorra lorra laughs”, for example) and her habit of referring familiarly to her fellow presenters (“Our Graham”) well known.

Recent television work

Black’s most notable television performances after her resignation from LWT included Parkinson, So Graham Norton, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Room 101 and a one off show titled Cilla Live! for Living TV. Black was a judge on the first series of the reality TV series Soapstar Superstar, has featured in an episode of the series Eating with… and has guest presented editions of The Paul O’Grady Show and The Friday Night Project for Channel 4 in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

In 2008, Black filmed a pilot for a dating show for Sky One. Loveland was to be a ten-part “21st century” dating programme for the channel for the next year. Unlike on Blind Date, contestants would not sit in front of a studio audience, but be ‘hidden’ behind real-time animations as they date each other. Each episode concludes with the contestant picking their preferred animated character before meeting that person in real life. Production costs, however, were too high and it was terminated.[25]

In October 2009, Black guest anchored Loose Women and between September 2010 and June 2011, she made guest panellist appearances.

On 28 November 2009, Black appeared on Sky1 to present TV’s Greatest Endings. She also appeared as herself in the first episode of series 4 of ITV’s Benidorm in 2011.[26] She also appeared as the guest host of Never Mind the Buzzcocks on 5 December 2011.

50 years in show business

ITV honoured Black’s 50 years in show business with a one off entertainment special which aired on 16 October 2013. The show, called The One & Only Cilla Black starred Black alongside Paul O’Grady, who hosted the show. The show celebrated Black’s career including a special trip back to Black’s hometown Liverpool, a host of celebrity friends and some surprise music guests. Black paid homage to Blind Date with the return of its most popular contestants and saw her star in a special edition of Coronation Street.

Credits

Year Programme Role
1984–2001 Surprise Surprise Presenter
1985–2003 Blind Date Presenter
1998–2001 The Moment of Truth Presenter
2009, 2010–2011, 2014 Loose Women Regular/Guest Panellist
2007 Room 101 (TV series) Guest
2009 TV’s Greatest Endings Presenter
2011 Never Mind the Buzzcocks Guest Presenter
2013 Your Face Sounds Familiar Guest Judge
The One & Only Cilla Black Herself, co-presenter
2013 Led Astray (pilot) Tanya

Guest appearances[edit]

Cilla (2014 drama series)

See also: Cilla

In 2014, Black was the subject of a three-part television drama series, Cilla, focusing especially on her rise to fame in 1960s Liverpool and her relationship with Bobby Willis. ITV aired the first instalment on 15 September 2014, starring BAFTA-award winning actress Sheridan Smith.

Personal life

Black was married to her manager, Bobby Willis, for more than 30 years until his death from lung cancer on 23 October 1999. They had three sons: Robert (who became her manager, born 1970), Ben (born 1974) and Jack (born 1980). Their daughter, Ellen (born 1975), was born prematurely and suffered lung complications, living for only two hours.

Black was a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party during the 1980s and publicly voiced her admiration of Margaret Thatcher, stating in 1993 that Thatcher “put the Great into Great Britain”.In April 1992 she appeared on stage at a Conservative Party rally and made prominent calls for the party’s re-election under the leadership of John Major. But in an interview in 2004 with The Guardian, Black claimed that she was “apolitical”. The Liverpool Echo also quoted her as saying: “as for the politics thing, I’m not a Conservative.” In August 2014, Black was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September’s referendum on that issue.

Death

Black died at her home near Marbella, Spain on 2 August 2015. Police are awaiting autopsy results but say that her death was most likely from natural causes.

Record producers