STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER … AND EVER
GOLDMINE|December 2020
The year 2020 is important in Beatledom. John Lennon would have turned 80 on October 9, and December 8 is the 40th anniversary of one of the darkest days in Beatles history.
JOHN “JAY JAY” FRENCH

Last year I started to think about December 8, 2020 — the 40th anniversary of Lennon’s assassination.

I am reminded about it every day as I live very close to the Dakota apartment building where Lennon lived and was gunned down. I walk in Central Park almost every morning and often get stopped by tourists who ask me two questions: 1) Where is the Metropolitan Museum of Art? and 2) Where is Strawberry Fields?

I usually walk them over to the Strawberry Fields, where there is always someone playing Beatles songs on an acoustic guitar. No matter the season or the weather, someone is always there playing Beatles songs.

The Strawberry Fields memorial was created in partnership with New York City and Yoko Ono and was officially opened on October 9, 1985 — what would have been Lennon’s 45th birthday.

The two dates — Lennon’s birth date on October 9 and December 8, the day of his murder — bring the memorial into an even greater significance to worldwide Beatles fans.

I decided that I wanted to write a positive story about Lennon’s legacy as we approach the 40th anniversary of his murder.

On the night of December 8, 1980, I had just returned home from a dinner with my girlfriend, turned on the radio and heard the devastating news. I ran out of my apartment and took the 10-minute walk down to the Dakota. I was in shock and I stayed there, keeping a vigil across from the building until about 4 a.m.

There really isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about John Lennon — precisely because he was like a neighbor, and I look at that building and walk into Strawberry Fields all the time. I wanted to know about the people who sing there and provide the soundtrack to this remarkable fixture funded by Yoko that sits directly across from the Dakota. You can’t miss it.

Before the coronavirus (for the past 35 years), tourist buses were always parked on 72nd Street and Central Park West. People who enter the park on West 72nd Street want a photo by the “Imagine” mosaic in the center of the area.

And, always, Beatles music is being played live by someone.

Well, after going to Strawberry Fields numerous times, I found the person who is the organizer of the singing minstrels of Strawberry Fields. His name in David Muniz, and he has quite a story to tell.

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