Was ‘All My Loving’ the Last Song John Lennon Heard?
Most people who were around at the time can recall precisely where they were when they learned the news of John Lennon's assassination. New York City TV producer Alan Weiss vividly remembers the evening.
On Dec. 8, 1980, Weiss left work at WABC, got on his motorcycle and headed across Central Park. He wasn't wearing a helmet when a taxi struck him, catapulting him from his seat. An ambulance rushed him to Roosevelt Hospital on the west side and, though dazed and severely injured, Weiss' memory of the ensuing events was remarkably detailed. "I don't remember the time scheme as well as I used to know it," Weiss told NewsTimes in 2014. "Outside the time — the quotes, the order, I remember crystal clear."
Weiss was being examined at the hospital in the hallway by a doctor when someone entered announcing that a gunshot victim was coming in. "And there are two police officers, carrying a man," Weiss recalled. He barely glanced at the injured man, who was taken into an adjacent room. When the police officers left the room, Weiss could hear them speaking. "They're literally standing right by my bed, over my head," he said. "And one cop says to the other, 'Can you believe it, John Lennon?'"
Still, in his foggy state, Weiss wasn't exactly sure he had heard correctly. But the pieces began to fall into place when he recognized the unmistakable figure of Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono, in the hallway, crying and being led by a police officer. A phone call to his assignment desk at WABC confirmed there had been a shooting reported at the Dakota apartment building where Lennon lived.
Weiss was taken to a room, where a doctor came to check on him; she refused to reveal the status of Lennon, so Weiss spun the question another way, as he recalled to the New York Post: “I asked her, ‘If someone was brought in with gunshots to the chest, is it a safe assumption that if the person was still alive, that you would still need to be in attendance?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ So that was a confirmation.”
It was then that Weiss noticed the background music in the hospital. A Muzak version of the Beatles song "All My Loving" was softly playing. "The piped music in the hospital began playing,'" Weiss told The Guardian in 2010. "And as it finished, I heard someone screaming." Doctors had just told Ono she had been widowed. Weiss called his assignment desk, and his colleagues officially broke the news to the world just before midnight.
Listen to an Instrumental Version of the Beatles' 'All My Loving"
Beyond the eerily timed song, the immediate hours following the shooting — and the exact events that transpired in the hospital that evening — became a circus of rumors, given the prestige of the victim. In 2016, a movie called The Lennon Report focused on how police and medical personnel worked to save the life of a man they didn't know at first was the onetime Beatle. But the first draft of the script needed a major overhaul after the film's director and writer, Jeremy Profe, realized that what he thought he knew of that night's timeline was not, in fact, correct.
“They showed us the script, basically, that had no relevance to anything that occurred that night," Barbara Kammerer, one of the nurses who was in the the operating room that night, told Billboard. " And as we were speaking with them and bringing up certain things, they were looking at us as if we truly did not know what we were talking about. Their version and our version was so grossly different, it was almost a rewrite."
Among the discrepancies: the doctor who performed surgery on Lennon and Ono's reaction when told the news that her husband had died. So, the script was drastically reworked in order to dispel as many of the inaccuracies as possible. “We didn't make a film about what didn't happen in the room," Profe said. "It's about what did happen in the room. The reason we came forward with the story was because in order for the truth to have any weight or credibility, people really needed to understand what happened.”
Weiss' front-row seat to one of the world's most famous crimes has stuck with him through the years. "It clearly is an unshakable memory," Weiss said. "And to this day I hurt for his family."