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Rolling Stone To Release John Lennon’s Final Print Interview, 30 Years Later

Lyndsey Parker
Stop The Presses!

Today (December 8) marks the 30th anniversary of one of the darkest days in music: The day when 40-year-old former Beatle John Lennon was gunned down in front of his New York apartment by Mark David Chapman. Lennon's tragic assassination still leaves many fans' questions unanswered, but a new interview--Lennon's final print interview, conducted only three days before his death--is finally being published by Rolling Stone magazine this week.

Incredibly, the nine-hour interview was never fully transcribed until recently, and the tapes have been buried in journalist Jonathan Cott's closet for decades. "It had been 30 years since I listened to them, and when I put them on this totally alive, uplifting voice started speaking on this magical strip of magnetic tape," Cott marveled to Rolling Stone. "His words are totally joyous and vibrant and hopeful and subversive and fearless. He didn't mince words."

[Related: See Lennon's family today]

Hear audio excerpts from Lennon's interview below, starting at the 1:52 mark:

Getting to hear and read Lennon's all-too-prematurely silenced words from beyond the grave is practically a miracle for Lennon fans, and may even give them the closure they still crave. However, Lennon's frank talk about "dead heroes"--a pop culture category in which he now sadly belongs--is a bit unsettling.

[Related: How John Lennon is being remembered]

Addressing critics of his post-Beatles music and his five-year recording hiatus, Lennon griped to Cott: "These critics with the illusions they've created about artists--it's like idol worship...What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean. I'm not interesting in being a dead [expletive] hero....So forget 'em, forget 'em."

HEAR MORE AUDIO FROM LENNON'S INTERVIEW

"I cannot be on the way up again, and I cannot be 25 again," an older and wiser Lennon said. "I cannot be what I was 10 years ago, I cannot be what I was five minutes ago."

Equally chilling to read is that Lennon assured Cott he still had "plenty of time" to accomplish his musical goals. When asked about the possibility of touring again, he answered: "We just might do it. But there will be no smoke bombs, no lipstick, no flashing lights. It just has to be comfy. But we could have a laugh. We're born-again rockers, and we're starting over...There's plenty of time, right? Plenty of time."

DOWNLOAD A PODCAST OF THE ROLLING STONE INTERVIEW

Cott, who conducted the interview at Lennon's apartment and recording studio, told Rolling Stone that while transcribing the tapes years later, he was amazed by how often the middle-aged Lennon reflected on mortality during their epic discussion. "There were a lot of strange considerations of where he was and what he felt like sort of in the middle of his journey," Cott mused. "I think it was like a mid-life meditation, I was struck by that."

SEE PHOTOS OF JOHN & YOKO'S LAST DAYS

"I'm not claiming divinity. I've never claimed purity of soul. I've never claimed to have the answers to life," Lennon told Cott on that fateful day. "I only put out songs and answer questions as honestly as I can...But I still believe in peace, love and understanding."

[Photo: Vintage moment between John Lennon, Yoko Ono]

Rolling Stone's commemorative John Lennon issue hits newsstands this Friday. Find out more about Lennon's last days on RollingStone.com.

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