Remembering John Lennon - Part 2

It was 25 years ago today that the iconic John Lennon was taken from this world far too soon. In Liverpool, UK and New York City, people gathered to honour his memory, and celebrate his life. Locally, Toronto radio stations aired tributes to Lennon, including 1050 Chum's "Tribute to John Lennon" and Mix 99.9's "Lennon Lunch".

In 1980, when the event took place, Toronto radio was faced with breaking the news to listeners, first about the shooting, and then Lennon's passing. Let's look back at those days in Toronto radio, through the eyes of two men who were working in Toronto radio at the time, and how their jobs, and lives, were affected: Jon Terminesi, Music Director at 97.3 EZ Rock, and John Donabie, radio personality on Newstalk 1010 CFRB.

John Donabie recalls,

"I was just going off to sleep when I got a call from a friend of mine telling me to turn on the TV. John Lennon had been shot. He had not been declared dead at this point. As we were talking they announced that John had died. Then, the operator interrupted and said I had an emergency call. It was my boss asking me to come into the radio station. It was almost midnight. I went on the air to talk about John Lennon."
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"I then started taking calls from listeners. I woke up Ronnie Hawkins for an interview regarding his time with John & Yoko, when they stayed at Ronnie's house in Mississauga. In the early morning hours I was called to do Canada AM, and later City TV to reminisce about Lennon and my conversations with him."
"It was a very cold night that we all assembled, with our candles, heavy coats and scarves. The square was jammed with candle light. People sang John Lennon and Beatle songs. Many, many cried. It was an emotional few days."

Jon Terminesi remembers,

"When John Lennon died I was fast asleep. Within seconds I experienced a crushing loss. A simple phone call did that."
"The disc jockey on the air called me and asked me what music she was supposed to play. I didn't understand what the problem was. Then she told me what had happened. I never did get back to sleep that night. Within minutes I was re-programming the station from home. We immediately went full-steam John Lennon music, playing his solo material, and his part of the Beatles catalogue. I made sure that we were only playing Lennon's Beatles songs. We weren't paying tribute to The Beatles, we were honouring John. There was no time to grieve, that would come later."
"I got in to the station by 8:30 am and everything had kicked into high gear. The music continued and we began planning a memorial service, the Nathan Phillips Square event in honour of Lennon. The days that led up to the tribute were a blur. It wasn't until I was standing in the cold with my kid sister in a crowd of thousands, holding candles, that it really sank in. Funny how someone you've never met face-to-face can hold such a special place in your heart. We sang, we cried, and we hurt. Twenty-five years later, it still hurts."

Toronto has never stopped loving Lennon. His memory lives on, especially on Toronto radio. Special thanks to John Donabie and Jon Terminesi for sharing their stories with us. Thanks to them, and countless others in the radio world in this city, Toronto's ties to Lennon remain strong.

Photo Credit: The Toronto Star

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