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After John Lennon’s death, millions of people across the world joined Yoko Ono in mourning. His sudden death came as a shock to everyone and devastated many. Ono was so worried about how Lennon’s fans would react that she made sure to get a message out to them. Here’s what she wanted them to hear after Lennon’s death.

Yoko Ono wanted to get a message to John Lennon’s fans after his death

On Dec. 8, 1980, Lennon and Ono were walking back to their apartment from the studio when Mark David Chapman shot and killed the former. When the news broke, people across the world began mourning the loss of the musician. 

A black and white picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in bed together. He has his arm around her shoulders.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono | Bettmann/Contributor via Getty

Though she likely was moved by this, Ono also found this a bit worrying. The day after Lennon’s death, she told friend and producer Jack Douglas to go on Tom Snyder’s late night talk show to address fans. She wanted him to tell fans not to harm themselves in response to Lennon’s death.

At the end of the interview, Douglas said Lennon would want everyone to know that “he meant the ’80s to be optimistic, and that he wanted to tell everyone that it’s gonna be alright if we pull together.”

John Lennon’s fans also made life difficult for Yoko Ono

While Ono wanted to protect fans, they also frustrated her. Ringo Starr rushed to Ono’s side after he heard about Lennon’s death. When he arrived, he was shocked at the way some fans were behaving.

“I was disgusted, not with the idea that they were there, but with the fact that you had a lot of dummies in the crowd all shouting at Yoko and saying, ‘Come to the windows,'” Starr said, per the book The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After the Breakup. “She didn’t want to deal with it at the time you know, the very next day after John’s death.”

While Starr understood that these people were upset, he didn’t think their behavior was appropriate

“I also didn’t want to hear people saying how much they loved The Beatles,” Starr said. “I was there for a friend, not because he was a member of a pop group.”

She held a small memorial service for her husband

Though Lennon didn’t have a traditional funeral, Ono invited fans to join in a silent vigil for her husband.

“There is no funeral for John. Later in the week we will set the time for a silent vigil to pray for his soul,” Ono said in a statement the day after his death, per The Independent. “We invite you to participate from wherever you are at the time … John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him. Love. Yoko and Sean.”

A photo of the "Imagine" memorial for John Lennon covered in flowers, candles, and a photo of him.
Strawberry Fields Memorial | Arnaldo Magnani/Getty Images

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The vigil took place on Dec. 14. Ono also had a private ceremony for just herself and Douglas. 

“We went to the studio, 11 or 12 at night, and I had an assistant bring out everything we could find in the vault,” Douglas told People. “It was talking, his music, anything. And we sat there until dawn just listening to different things that John had done. And that was the only service that there was. It was just Yoko and I.”