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In 1980, Ringo Starr flew to New York after receiving the news that his former Beatles bandmate John Lennon had been murdered. Like the rest of The Beatles, Starr was stunned by the news and knew that Yoko Ono needed support. When he arrived, though, he wasn’t happy with the scene he found outside Lennon and Ono’s apartment building. Many Beatles fans had gathered there, and Starr said he was disgusted with their behavior.

The Beatles, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison, pose together in front of a white brick wall.
The Beatles: Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

John Lennon died in 1980

In 1980, Lennon and Ono were walking up to their apartment building in New York when a fan, Mark David Chapman, shot Lennon multiple times. Chapman had been waiting outside the building all day and had even had Lennon autograph an album that afternoon. 

Lennon’s condition was so serious that police officers on the scene realized they didn’t have time to wait for an ambulance. They rushed Lennon to the hospital, where doctors attempted to resuscitate him. They could not save him, and he was pronounced dead on the night of Dec. 8. 

Ringo Starr was unhappy with the way Beatles fans behaved in the aftermath

News of Lennon’s death shocked the world, and Starr, who had been on vacation in The Bahamas, wasted no time in getting on a plane to New York. Starr and his wife, Barbara, entered Lennon and Ono’s apartment building from a back entrance in order to avoid the massive crowd of mourning Beatles fans gathered outside. 

When the couple left, however, they had to confront the crowd. Fans reached out in an attempt to touch Starr, and they called out to him. He found the entire situation very upsetting. 

“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.”

He also didn’t want to hear anyone tell him that they were a Beatles fan. 

“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.”

Ringo Starr was the only member of The Beatles to go see Yoko Ono

Starr was the only member of The Beatles to see Ono in the immediate aftermath of Lennon’s death. Paul McCartney was at his home in Sussex when he received the news. He called Ono to offer his condolences but remained at home, reeling.

“I can’t take it at the moment,” McCartney said the following day. “John was a great man who’ll be remembered for his unique contributions to art, music and peace. He is going to be missed by the whole world.”


John Lennon Said Ringo ‘Seriously’ Left the Beatles (And Came Back)

When George Harrison heard the news, he didn’t believe the injury was life-threatening and went back to bed. Later, though, he issued a statement about the loss of his former bandmate. 

“After all we went through together I had and still have great love and respect for him. I am shocked and stunned,” he said. “To rob life is the ultimate robbery in life. This perpetual encroachment on other people’s space is taken to the limit with the use of a gun. It is an outrage that people can take other people’s lives when they obviously haven’t got their own lives in order.”