HOW I BEFRIENDED
ONE OF JOHN LENNON'S
On December 10, 1980, two days after John Lennon's shocking murder, the New York Daily News ran this photo on its front page:
It was a picture of John signing a Double Fantasy album cover, at around 5:00 PM on December 8, for the murderous piece of garbage who would shoot him dead five hours later.
As I looked at the picture that morning of December 10, 1980, I noticed the name of the guy who took this picture: Paul Goresh. I remember thinking, "Wow! What a picture!" A disturbing picture, for sure, but nonetheless, incredible.
Skip ahead to 1983. I was a teacher by day, but at that time I also worked nights at Video Shack in Paramus, NJ. In addition to renting and selling videotapes, Video Shack also sold two-foot-high statues of movie stars, as well as some singing stars. One of the biggest sellers was the Beatles set of four statues; we were forever reordering Beatles statues.
One night while working the late shift, I took a call from a man who wanted to buy a set of the Beatles statues. We had one set left, so I told him I'd put that set aside for him. I asked him his name, and he said "Paul Goresh."
My mind immediately went back to that Daily News picture.
Knowing the answer, I still asked the question: "Aren't you the Lennon photographer?"
Goresh sounded genuinely surprised. "Yeah, how did you know?"
I told him that I always thought the picture was unbelievable, and that I was a Beatles fan since their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. He said he was a Beatlemaniac, too, and that he'd be at the store in about an hour to pick up his statues.
Needless to say, we hit it off right away. It was tough to spend too much time talking to him that night, as the store was quite busy for a weeknight. So we made plans to meet for lunch soon.
We became fast friends; the Beatles, of course, were our common ground. I had a million questions for him about John Lennon, and he answered every one.
Of course, one of the first questions I asked him was about the night of the photograph. Paul said that since 1979, he had hung around the Dakota building, on West 72 St., NYC, where John and Yoko lived (and where Yoko still lives to this day), in the hope of seeing John come out of the building. He did, quite often, and slowly but surely, Paul began taking pictures of John.
One day, Lennon stopped and asked Paul if he could see some of his pictures. Paul made up a bunch, gave them to John as he left the Dakota one day, and from then on, they became friendly.
As Paul often told me, "We weren't what you would call close friends...", but John and Paul would take short walks together.
Goresh told me that a fellow photographer friend of his once told him, "Just snap away and take pictures of anything, even if it seems inconsequential."
That's just how Paul happened to take the picture of John signing the album cover. He simply took, what he thought, was just another picture.
Only until later that night, when Goresh heard the terrible news of John's assassination, and the news reports ran descriptions of his killer, did Paul realize he may have taken a picture of the murderer. He quickly had the picture developed. When he was sure that it was indeed Lennon's killer in the picture with John, Paul contacted the local police. They said they weren't interested; Paul then contacted the Daily News, and they were interested.
Over the years, Paul has been extremely kind enough to give me copies of some of his personal Lennon photos.
Here's one he took of John and Yoko leaving the Dakota to go to a recording session:
You can imagine how honored Paul felt (that's the word he used to me to describe his feelings) when, less than four months after John's death, Yoko asked Paul is if she could use the photo for the single record release of "Watching the Wheels." It was the first posthumous John record:
On a segment about Paul and his relationship with John on the TV show, The Story Behind the Story, Paul said how proud he was to have his name on the back of the single sleeve:
Well, as I mentioned earlier in this blog, I had a million questions for Paul Goresh about John; questions that die-hard Beatles fans would want to know the answers to. Next week, in Part 2, I'll share more than a few of those questions and answers with you. Plus: I get to hold THE camera.
ON APRIL 18, DURING THE 8:40-9:00pm (EST) SLOT, I'LL BE INTERVIEWED ON EVAN GINZBURG'S INTERNET RADIO SHOW LEGENDS RADIO, AT legendsradio.net, ABOUT MY BOOK, SEE YOU IN CCU: A LIGHTHEARTED TALE OF MY OPEN-HEART SURGERY. EVAN'S GREAT SHOW IS ARCHIVED, SO YOU CAN LISTEN ANYTIME AFTER APRIL 18, ALSO.
MY BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT CCUBOOK.COM, AS WELL AS barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, etc., AND SELECTED REAL LIVE BOOK STORES.
And don't forget to check out my brother Bill's music blog at 360sounds.wordpress.com.
Thanks for everything!