Magazine tributes to John Lennon

Time Out tribute to John Lennon from 12 December 1980

This post was meant to have been published in December, after I showed three newspaper front pages from John Lennon’s murder in 1980. So here, belatedly, are three magazines that covered the same horrific event.

First up is the London listings magazine Time Out. You’ll notice that the cover date is December 12, just four days after the killing. Getting this tribute out so soon would have been quite a feat at the time. The cover is straightforward, with a photo of the young Beatle, barely recognisable as the same person on the Daily Mirror‘s front page shown on the previous post.

Inside, the centre four pages of the stapled issue were printed on a heavier varnished paper to take colour printing on both sides (the magazine’s usual paper stock was newsprint). The text was reversed out of black on the four pages and told the story of Lennon’s life in diary-like entries illustrated with contemporaneous photographs.

Time Out’s colour centre pages to mark Lennon’s death

In New York, it took six weeks for Rolling Stone to produce its tribute issue, even though Annie Leibovitz had taken her photograph of a naked John Lennon curled up against Yoko Ono five hours before Lennon’s murder on December 8. Even so, it is Rolling Stone‘s most famous cover and made the career of Leibovitz.

Rolling Stone’s most famous cover: John and Yoko by Annie Leibovitz (January 22, 1981)

A few years before this, Dick Stolley, the founding managing editor of People, a weekly celebrity magazine in the US, had come up with a mantra for his cover images.

Young is better than old. 
Pretty is better than ugly. 
Rich is better than poor. 
Movies are better than music. 
Music is better than television. 
Television is better than sports 
. . . and anything is better than politics

Lennon’s murder led Stolley to update the mantra, with an new final line:

… and nothing is better than the celebrity dead.

The 22 December 1980 tribute issue was People‘s best-selling cover at that time.

Best-selling People cover: John Lennon tribute (22/12/1980)

>>>Analysis of British press: ‘Times readers run the country…

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