When the Music Died....

You always remember exactly where you were when you hear the news. It was a Monday or Tuesday night in December 1980. I was playing with my band at a club on the outskirts of Toronto, Canada. We finished our set and one of the waitresses rushed up to me and said “John Lennon’s been shot!”. I instantly felt weak in the knees, disbelieving at first and trying to grapple with the enormity of what I had just been told. For me John Lennon was one of my heroes from childhood – The Beatles, the great songs, the rebel, Give Peace A Chance, all of that.

When I got home after the gig, the local rock station was playing Beatles music non-stop. I knew in my heart that he was gone. It was the saddest night of my life up until that point. It almost seemed inconceivable that something like this could happen. I was in my early twenties and had not experienced anything like this before. I was devastated and just stared at the wall as the music continued to play. I finally fell asleep about 5am hoping that when I woke up it would turn out to have been just a dream.

Me in 1968 – how about that Beatle haircut!

I grew up in the 60’s with the Beatles and the Stones and John Lennon was definitely one of my heroes. I had even seen the Beatles in 1964 in Montreal, Canada with my brother and my mom and dad which looking back was pretty cool on their part to take us.

In those days I was working 6 nights a week playing in the clubs. I headed to the gig that night pretty much in a daze. It was terrible – I couldn’t concentrate and made mistake after mistake. I ended up trying to drown my sorrow by drinking heavily which only made matters worse. We played some Beatles tunes and ended with Imagine. It was an incredibly depressing night. After that it took a long time to get back to normal. The music seemed to have died – it didn’t mean the same to me.

John Lennon 1964

As they say, time heals all wounds and life goes on. Eventually, I got the spark back and I made a decision to put everything into my music and start writing seriously. I had also got back into the blues at that point. I had originally been influenced by Eric Clapton and the blues greats, but I always had a love of the Beatles and pop music. I dedicated myself to writing and making the best music I possibly could, and subconsciously I know now that I did this to honor John Lennon’s life.

Sometimes tragic events can have positive outcomes. I learned how it is possible to pick yourself up and carry on even when you are so low you don’t feel like you can carry on. This was one of the most important events in my life and it helped shaped who I have become. As John Lennon said – love is the answer, not hate. I choose love and to express it with my music.

I wrote a song for my new album that I feel was inspired to a point by John Lennon. It’s called All Through The Night – the guitar is somewhat reminiscent of She’s So Heavy from Abbey Road. The track is currently available for sale on my new album and on iTunes and the like but as a thank you for being one of my subscribers I want to give it to you for free – no strings attached.

Download All Through The Night here.

If you like the track you might also consider checking out Grass Won’t Grow. It’s my latest album and it’s full of melodic blues rock tunes that I like to think Mr. Lennon would enjoy. 🙂

Thank you for taking time to read this and thank you for being a listener and for making it all matter.

Cliff