Thursday, December 8, 2016

Early Evening Dec. 8, 1980: The Last Photos Taken of John Lennon Alive, And the Man Who Took Them Recalls Tragedy

On Dec. 8, 1980, Paul Goresh crossed paths with Mark David Chapman, murderer of ex-Beatle John Lennon.

Goresh traveled with his Minolta XG1 camera hours before the murder from his home in North Arlington to the Dakota on the corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West in Manhattan. Lennon lived in the apartment building with wife Yoko Ono and their 5-year-old son, Sean.

Chapman was there, too, waiting on the sidewalk for Lennon.

"Chapman comes up to me and he says, 'Do you want to take my photo?' And he's holding the 'Double Fantasy' album in his left arm," Goresh told NJ.com. "And he's smiling."

"And I said, 'What do I want to take your picture for?' I'm here for John."

This is the last photograph ever taken of John Lennon while alive. This was taken at approximately 5:00-5:30 PM on December 8th, 1980. The reason why the picture is so fuzzy is because the flash failed to go off. The photographer is Paul Goresh.

Goresh did, however, take one photo of Chapman and Lennon together.

It was a tight shot - Lennon signing the album cover and the killer in the background, slightly fuzzy and out of focus.

"I was taking a picture of John and I was trying to squeeze the guy (Chapman) out of the photo," Goresh said. "He was such a nuisance all that day that I was trying to get him out of the picture. And thank God three-quarters of him is in the picture. It was ironic."

The historic image is one of the last photos taken of Lennon - and the only one of Lennon with his killer.

Chapman shot the ex-Beatle five hours after the picture was taken.

This is one of the last images ever taken of John Lennon. This was taken on the day of his murder at approximately 5:00-5:30 PM on December 8th, 1980. The photographer is Paul Goresh. This photo features John signing a copy of his comeback album, 'Double Fantasy', for the man who would murder him later that night, Mark David Chapman.

Goresh returned home to North Arlington a few hours before the murder.

When he heard on the news that Lennon had been shot by a deranged fan, he called the New York City Police Department to tell them he may have captured an image of the killer with his camera.

"I told them it could be used as evidence to prove the guy was there," Goresh said.

The cop who answered at the city's 20th Precinct police department hung up on him, he says.

Goresh called back.

"You've called here three times now in the last hour," Goresh said he was told. "'If you call here again, I'm going to trace this call and I'm going to charge you.' And he hung up on me."

This is one of the last images ever taken of John Lennon. This was taken on the day of his murder at approximately 5:00-5:30 PM on December 8th, 1980. The photographer is Paul Goresh. The person in the white coat is a member of the RKO Radio team who interviewed John. His name is Ron Hummel, the engineer for the interview.

Goresh then went to local police.

Joe Zadroga, at the time a sergeant in the North Arlington Police Department, recalls the encounter with Goresh - 35 years ago this week - in detail.

"We contacted the New York Daily News for him," Zadroga said.

"The New York police probably didn't see any value in the photo," Zadroga said. "They arrested the guy (Chapman) right away, so they probably didn't need it."

Zadroga told Goresh he should sell the photo to the newspaper.

This is one of the last images ever taken of John Lennon. This was taken on the day of his murder at approximately 5:00-5:30 PM on December 8th, 1980. The photographer is Paul Goresh.

Both Zadroga and Goresh say the Daily News sent a limousine to North Arlington to pick up Goresh and his camera, which contained the undeveloped film of Lennon and Chapman.

The photo editor promised Goresh $2,000 just for coming to the office, Goresh said.

The Daily News bought the photo for $10,000 and helped the amateur photographer enter a syndication deal he says eventually earned him millions.

Today, Goresh continues to license the photo, keeping the original negative in a safe-deposit box.

Paul Goresh with John Lennon outside the Dakota on Nov. 17, 1980, just weeks before the singer's murder.

(via NJ.com)

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