John Lennon being dead would have been more than tragic enough.
But the "Imagine" artist was murdered, fatally shot on a New York sidewalk by Mark David Chapman on Dec. 8, 1980. It's a well-trod story, but 43 years later it's the piece of Lennon's biography that somehow still continues to shock, an unfathomable violent coda to such a culturally impactful life.
Due to his forever-status as a member of The Beatles, even though they'd been broken up for almost six years, Lennon was destined to be aggressively mourned no matter the circumstances, not unlike Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and other superstars who died too young.
And their demises remain haunting in their own ways. But when 50,000 people gathered in Central Park six days after Lennon was killed, part of a worldwide 10-minute vigil planned for 2 p.m. ET by Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, a particular sign stood out. It sported Lennon's picture between two peace signs and one word: "WHY?"
The fact that there's no real answer to that question is a big reason why Chapman ended up a celebrity in his own right, too, the world seemingly desperate to understand him. And the deep dives into his psyche never stopped, with Jared Leto undergoing one of his many drastic physical transformations to play Chapman in the 2007 film Chapter 27, adapted from one of many books about the killer and his history-altering crime.
The twisted chain of events is being probed anew in the Apple TV+ docuseries John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial, premiering Dec. 6. The three-part project features never-before-heard interviews—including with a cab driver who never forgot the strange fare who got in and claimed he was a recording engineer who worked with Lennon and Paul McCartney, the doorman at the Dakota who purportedly heard Lennon's last words, confidantes of the artist and his wife Yoko Ono, and detectives, lawyers and doctors who've been involved with Chapman's case over the years.
In the series, the cabbie, Mark Snyder, recalls his soon-to-be infamous passenger getting out of the car and, leaning in to pay, "He said, 'My name is Mark David Chapman. You'll remember my name.'"
With so much lore to sift through, here's a rundown of the most haunting details about the death of John Lennon: