Early Tuesday morning, December 9, 1980, I rolled out of bed as per usual to get ready for another day as a high school junior. We had just a single bathroom on the main floor of our house in Walton, but also a shower stall in the basement. On my way downstairs, Dad came out of the bathroom; he was wearing a sleeveless t-shirt as he always did, in the middle of shaving. His first words to me: “Well, William, the Beatles are never going to get back together.” (This was typical of the way that Dad would break news—I think I picked that up from him to at least some extent.)
John Lennon had taken his five-year break from recording right around the time I started paying attention to music—“Imagine” was about the only solo hit of his with which I was really familiar prior to “(Just Like) Starting Over.” I was well aware of his work with the Beatles, but at 16 I didn’t yet have the deep appreciation I do now. His death was a big deal but meant more to my father. One of my primary memories from the next couple of weeks is hearing “All You Need Is Love” over and over again on the radio.
This AT40 show is well-known to Casey-philes. The staff had to scramble to react to news of the assassination. The LPs had already been mailed out, but plans quickly came together to issue an update. CK recorded a heartfelt tribute that was inserted right before he played #4. Another change: a listener’s question in the first hour about, of all things, posthumous Top 40 hits, was deleted. Replacements went out the door in the hope they’d arrive in time for stations to play them that weekend. It seems unlikely that I listened to the show when it was originally broadcast—my chart for that week doesn’t note the Long Distance Dedications or the #1 songs of the 60s featured at the ends of the first three hours. I’m glad I’m finally getting the chance to hear it.