The Empire State Building shined its world-famous tower lights in sky blue with a white peace sign rotating in the mast on Thursday, October 8, 2020, in partnership with the John Lennon Estate and Universal Music Group to celebrate John Lennon’s life and legacy ahead of what would have been his 80th birthday, Friday, October 9. 

Sean Ono Lennon was on hand to flip the switch and light up the iconic building in honor of his father.

One of New York City’s most famous residents, John Lennon famously moved to Manhattan from the UK in 1971 following the breakup of The Beatles and called the city home until his death in 1980. A vocal lover of New York, he eventually won a hard-fought immigration battle that allowed him to stay in the United States and in his beloved, adopted hometown. Lennon and Ono lived together at The Dakota near Central Park where they raised their son Sean and where Ono still lives. Lennon wrote and recorded several solo albums in NYC including  Mind Games (1973), Walls and Bridges (1974), Rock ‘n’ Roll (1975) and his collaborations with Ono, which include Sometime In New York City(1972), his final studio album, Double Fantasy (1980), and the posthumously released, Milk and Honey (1884). Notably the strings and final mixes for Lennon’s Imagine (1971) album were recorded at the famed Record Plant in NYC.

"America is where it's at, man. I should have been born in New York, man! I should have been born in the Village, that's where I belong! Why wasn't I born there? Paris was 'It' in the 18th century, London I don't think has ever been 'It', it might have been 'It' literary-wise when Wilde and Shaw and all them were there. New York was 'It'! I regret profoundly not being American and not being born in Greenwich Village, that's where I should have been. But it never works that way. Everybody heads towards the centre, that's why I'm here now, I'm here just to breathe it. This is where it's happening," John Lennon said about NYC.

In 1980, following his passing, photographer Bob Gruen was asked to choose an image for a vigil in Central Park for fans to grieve and chose a photo he took of Lennon wearing a white sleeveless t-shirt emblazoned with New York City in bold black type. The now iconic image, much like New York to the Liverpudlian, has become synonymous with Lennon and a point of pride for the city. Strawberry Fields in NYC’s Central Park is a living memorial to the world-famous singer, songwriter and peace activist, John Lennon.




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