Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Howard Cosell on John Lennon’s Death and “This Sick, Sports-Obsessed Country”

Several places have parts of this interview, but its originally from Jonathan Cott & Christine Doudna, The Ballad of John and Yoko (Dolphin Books 1982), at page 228. This book is a collection of Rolling Stone interviews and miscellaneous remembrances of John Lennon, published a little more than a year after he was killed.
The clip of Howard Cosell announcing Lennon’s death on Monday Night Football is on YouTube, but I think this is the only place where he describes in detail that night and his memories of getting to know the former Beatle:

    Near the end of the "Monday Night Football" broadcast, my producer, Bob Goodrich, said, "Roone Arledge just called and told me that John Lennon has been shot and rushed to the hospital. We're waiting for details from ABC News." I couldn't believe it. Goodrich then told me that he was dead on arrival. I was devastated. We were in the midst of a tied football game that was about to go into overtime, and I was wrestling with the problem of breaking the news on TV, thinking that, even in this sick, sports-obsessed country, this is far more important than any goddamned football game will ever be. I went on the air and said that it was just a game, and I felt compelled to tell this story.
    John and I became friends in 1975, when he did a one-hour interview with me for an ABC talk show, and I found him to be candid, engaging, a man who understood himself. We kept in touch and, ironically, I even had him on "Monday Night Football" as a guest.
    This man meant a great deal to me. My own daughters came of age in the era of the Beatles, and I saw a lot of the magic and excitement of that time through their eyes and experiences; they truly touched us all.
    I'll tell you something that no one should forget about John Lennon: He was never, ever a hypocrite about anything he ever did or said or believed. With his family, his music, his ideals and his opinions, he was a man of conviction and commitment. I am proud to have known him.

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