Monday, September 28, 2009

Meeting John in 1980

John meeting a fan outside of the Dakota in 1980.

Here is John in November 0f 1979 (4 months before this story takes place). John had the full beard that is mentioned in the story. However, I cannot find any photos of him clean shaved in early 1980 as the author of this story says....

I think any story of someone meeting John in 1980 is amazing. This one comes from a fan named Ann Lawer of Louisville, KY. It was originally published in the June/July 1980 issue of Beatlefan magazine. At the time, Ms. Lawer said that her meeting with John Lennon was, "the most exciting moment of my life." I bet she thought so even more after what happened 6 months after her story was published.

My dream ever since 1964 had been to meet one or all of the objects of my affection. With a little encouragement from having heard of the success of some "Dakota-watchers", I decided that I, too, would attempt to make my dream come true.

I was terribly excited just to see the Dakota, as I had never seen it before. The first thing I did when I arrived was to head there to ask the doorman if he knew John's current whereabouts. The doorman on duty was a very nice, helpful young guy (I found many of the doormen to be the same). He said, "Yes, I believe he is here now." I told him I had heard John was in Florida, and he said, "No, he's come back form there, I believe." I couldn't believe my luck! Then I had it confirmed when several hours after this, I saw Sean! He and his nanny came out of the building and got into a limo. Sean had on jeans with turned-up cuffs and cowboy boots! Over the next few days, I would see him several times, and he usually was riding a scooter and occasionally had on a gray cowboy hat! I knew that if Sean was there, John and Yoko HAD to be!

For three days, I stood by the entrance to the Dakota, from early in the day until dark. The best I could gather from the doormen was John had not been out since returning from Florida. The doormen were not encouraging to me. So, as much as I adore John, I had not gotten the best reports on encounters with fans and was rather apprehensive about what would happen if and when I saw him.
I got my chance to find out on March 6, 1980. It was a cloudy, cold, windy Thursday. The Dakota's main entrance has an archway over it. Usually, when one or more Lennons go out, a limo will pull up some time before they leave, so at least you have some warning that maybe something is about to happen.
I had NO WARNING! I was standing talking to the doorman, with the entrance just to my right, about 15 feet. I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye and glanced over at it. It took me about two seconds to realize it was JOHN.

He was walking along with a guy who was somewhat taller than he, and they were talking. They walked out onto the sidewalk and began to walk west on 72nd street (away from the park, if you are familiar with the building). As he walked, he passed without about two feet of me. He glanced briefly at me and nodded to Heinz, the doorman, and me saying "G'mornin', how are ya?" rather politely.
John and this other guy (who I later found out is one of John's secretaries) walked off down the sidewalk, still talking. After he had walked about 15 steps, John glanced over his right shoulder. This was probably to see if I had either fainted or was following him. I'm certain my eyes looks like saucers and my mouth must have been wide open! I watched him walk for as long as I could and debated about whether I should follow him, then decided against it, as I believe John deserves his privacy. The way he was walking, though it was one of the most difficult decision I ever made! He does bounce when he walks, just the way he did in all the movies!

The thing that was most amazing to me was that John looked just like JOHN! I have seen so many pictures of him that I had to look twice at to make certain it was him, that I fully expected to have to do the same in person. He reminded me somewhat of the way he looked during "Let it Be" except neater. He had on rather light blue jeans that were so faded they were almost white. He was wearing a pair of beat up white tennis shoes. His bright blue windbreaker was zipped up and he walked with his hands in both pockets. His hair was parted in the middle. It was about 1 to 2 inches below his ears. It was quite thick, as though it had just been washed and blown-dry, and it was behind the ears. It was a reddish brown color, like maybe he had been out in the Florida sun (I didn't notice any tan thought). The beard pictured in People magazine was gone - he was clean shaven. He had on glasses that looked like the ones Paul wore on the White Album poster, when he was doing his Billy Shears impression. The frames were a coral-white opaque color and the lenses were a light gray. They were light enough to see his eyes though, fortunately. He looked more gorgeous than I had ever imagined.

As John walked down the block, I felt my eyes fill with tears. When he was finally out of my sight, I had to sit down on the step to the Dakota to recover. Heinz was laughing at me. I decided if I had to sit there 'til New York froze over, I'd stay 'til John came back. Fortunately, it wasn't that long. After about 30 minutes of my nervously watching off down the sidewalk, and Heinz coaching me on what I should and should not do when John came back, I saw John's blue jacket coming towards me.

The minute 'til he was in front of me was the longest of my life. Finally, there he was. His secretary was walking close to me, with John on the outside, next to the street. I learned across the secretary's path and said in a very tiny voice, "Excuse me, John?" He slowed down, looked at me and said, "yeah?"

This was where I almost could not continue. But somehow I found the courage to say, "I'm here from Kentucky, and I've been standing here for three days to see you." He said, "Shouldn't do that, ya know ---it's too cold." HE didn't smile, but he didn't say it as if to be rude, either. He said it as though he was giving advice; rather matter of factly. He was looking at me, but he was still moving slightly toward the door to the Dakota.

I said, "John, would you please autograph something for me?" He hesitated a moment, and I thought for a second he was gonna say no. Then he said, "Sure, but let's make it quick." I pulled my paperback copy of "In His Own Write" and "A Spaniar in the Works" out of my coat pocket and handed it to him with a pen. He looked at the cover, opened the book, turned it sideways and wrote, "John Lennon '80" on the title page for "In His Own Write." Then he closed the book and looked again at the cover. He said, "I didn't know they still printed this!" I said, "They don't..I've had that copy since 1965." He said, "Oh...bye."

And he started into the building. I called "Thanks, John!" as he walked into the entrance, he called, "You really should go back to Kentucky, it's too cold here." Again, he said it in a polite manner, like he was giving advice. Then he was gone. I stood there for about five minutes, looking at the door he had just gone in. I was desperately trying to remember everything about him, for some reason I was so afraid that I would forget how he sounded and looked. But I now know I never will.


  1. omg this is a great anecdote

    The way he was walking [..] he does bounce when he walks, just the way he does in the movies!

    that made me laugh - and then squee at the image

  2. Sounds like the author is one step removed from the stalking nut that shot him.

  3. Nice story of a very patient fan. But there's a problem with the date. In March 1980 John wasn't "clean shaved". Betwenn February and the end of April he wore a full beard ... ?

  4. Nice story of a very patient fan. But there's a problem with the date. In March 1980 John wasn't "clean shaved". Betwenn February and the end of April he wore a full beard ... ?

  5. Wow! an amazing anecdote!!!
    It gave me chills really and I imagined that I would have felt the same as that girl!