Hear the Live WBSM Report of John Lennon’s 1980 Murder
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon, and one former New Bedford resident is sharing his memories – and his audio – of that terrible night.
It was a Monday evening, and 25-year-old Jack Maravell was excited about getting the chance to be on the radio to discuss his new record.
"I was playing in the band City Lights, which was popular, trying to make it as a songwriter," Maravell said. "I recorded a 45 vinyl record and was promoting it in New Bedford, with 'Special Kind of Love' on one side, and a rock-and-roll song called 'Don't Say Love' on Side B."
Maravell's friend Gene Daniels worked at WBSM at the time and arranged for him to be interviewed live on the air by Norm Rapoza after the 11 p.m. news. In a weird bit of synchronicity, Maravell is a huge Beatles fan and showed up at the old WBSM studios on Union Street with a Beatles pin on his shirt. He had no idea that he'd be there on the air as they reported the murder of one of his musical idols.
The 11 p.m. newscast ended, and the interview began. But Maravell's excitement about being on his hometown radio station and promoting his music only lasted a few minutes, before his heart sank with a breaking news announcement.
"The first bulletin got walked in for us to read that John Lennon was shot in New York City and taken to the hospital," Maravell said. "The interview continued. Another bulletin came in for us to read, stating he was shot five times and was in critical condition at the moment."
The interview went on, and the newsman walked in with the third bulletin – the audio of which is preserved in this YouTube video uploaded by Maravell of the broadcast:
"You can hear me say on the clip 'here comes another bulletin, they keep getting worse,'" he said. And he was right; this was the bulletin that announced that Lennon had died as a result of his wounds and that the assassin, later revealed to be delusional fan Mark David Chapman, was in custody.
It was a moment that completely crushed Maravell.
"I could hardly speak," he said. "I said, 'just play the record.'"
After playing "Special Kind of Love," Rapoza and Maravell took calls from the listeners who wanted to discuss Lennon and the impact his music had on their lives.
Maravell now lives in Florida, and being a left-handed bass player, he has played Paul McCartney for many years in "Beatlemania" shows, something he continues to this day.
And although he may play Paul on stage, Maravell will never forget the connection he had with Lennon on December 8, 1980.