JOHN LENNON: Barefoot in Nutopia
An insider’s story of his last years
by Mike Tree

Nutopia     Mike Tree     The Occult     Bermuda     Studio Sessions     Helter Skelter     Silent Vigil     Afterword


The days following John’s murder ran together, without beginning or end, in a fog of grief. On Tuesday morning, Ringo arrived. After spending several hours with Yoko, he left the Dakota by the main gate, causing a near riot.

Later, Tuesday evening Julian arrived and spent several days at the Dakota. I left the building on Wednesday afternoon, headed to my apartment for a shower and a change of clothes. The weather was now getting colder, and the exercise and fresh air helped to clear my head.

I felt so refreshed; I walked through Central Park on my return to the Dakota. It was just getting dark when I turned the corner onto West Seventy-second Street, and froze in my tracks, startled by what I saw.

Several thousand people were gathered in front of the building. Despite the cold weather, young and old had come together to honor John and to offer him their tears and love. “All you need is love,” they sang, “love is all you need . . . love . . . love . . . love . . . .”

The mourners had turned the Dakota’s high wrought-iron gate into a shrine. One by one, they formed a procession through a channel of blue police barricades. Each, in their turn, left a personal note, an album cover, photographs or flowers. Candles flickered in the driveway, which was also covered with photographs and flowers.

Though I had nothing to offer, I approached the improvised shrine, compelled by an unknown force. I was not aware of anyone as I crossed Seventy-second Street, just moving, almost floating towards the shrine. When I reached the sidewalk, a policeman stopped me, but I showed him my Dakota ID and he let me pass. Without thinking, I reached through the gate’s grill-work for the latch to a secret door, a few feet off the ground, which I had been shown years earlier, and stepped through it into the driveway.

Except for the police floodlights outside on the street, I now stood in complete darkness. Had I just carried out some kind of ritual, I asked myself? Before John’s death, my life was filled with hope and light. Now there was only darkness.

A minute later I was in the fluorescent glow of Studio One. The bedlam had continued unabated, but now there were three more people in the office with a telephone pressed to their ear. Someone showed me a statement Yoko had prepared for the press.

It read in part, “I told Sean what happened and took him to the spot where John lay after he was shot . . . Sean cried later. He also said ‘Now Daddy is part of god. I guess when you die you become much more bigger because you’re part of everything.’ ” Yoko’s statement concluded with a request for a worldwide ten minute silent vigil to be observed at 2 PM on Sunday, December 14th.

On Thursday morning, the head of security came into the office with the urn containing John’s ashes. He said Yoko wanted it placed under the bed on the side where John had slept. Later, that afternoon, I took a break from my duties in the office, and went to the apartment to care for the trees.

When I got to the master bedroom, Yoko wasn’t there, so I searched under the bed for the urn. To my surprise, it was a metal cylinder about four inches wide and fourteen inches long. I picked it up and wrapped my arms around it in an embrace. As I moved it, there was a sound like that of shifting gravel. Spellbound, I turned the urn over and over, swish-clink-clink, swish-clink-clink, swish-clink-clink, as tears streamed down my face. I wanted to believe John would have approved of my irreverence.

Later that week, on Sunday morning, I returned to the apartment to deliver some papers to Yoko. After my errand, I went to the White Room to observe the crowd gathered at the bandshell in Central Park. Aluminum-colored snow clouds cast a strange silver light over the city as the thermometer approached fifteen degrees.

When I returned to Studio One, the staff sat around in the outer- office, scarcely talking. As the clock approached 2:00 PM, everyone seemed to rise in unison, and walked into Yoko’s adjoining office. They all sat facing the Bermuda painting of John and Sean, hanging on the wall above Yoko’s piano. Unable to see the painting well in the low light, I concentrated on a magazine photograph of John.

As I gazed at the photograph, the pupils of John’s eyes softened. Without turning his head, he looked to the left and right, then directly at me as the corners of his mouth curled up in a mischievous smile. For some reason this apparition, if that what it was, startled me. For a brief moment, I felt afraid. Was I hallucinating from lack of sleep?

At some point I must have closed my eyes, because when I opened them the room was empty. Everyone had returned to the outer office. When I entered the room, I felt very self-conscious, but no one said anything about me being asleep, nor I did tell anyone what I had experienced.

I felt agitated, unable to sit around and make polite small talk, so I left Studio One and went to the Dakota’s roof to clear my head, and to scrutinize the mourners that had gathered for the silent vigil. There must have been several thousand in Central Park and along Central Park West. A short while later, I left the building to visit my chiropractor, who had kept his office open on this day.

“What happened to you?” he asked, when I entered. “You’re absolutely glowing!”

His question made me wonder about my meditation experience. I had hoped it would lead to an epiphany, but there was none, only crushing anguish and confusion.

What fate drew me to John, I wondered? What does karma have to do with the events of the past week, or the past four years I had worked for him? What was John’s karma that caused his violent death?

Eventually, I came to see his death as a worthy adversary for my spiritual practice. Not just for me, but also for everyone who embraced his message: “Give Peace a Chance.” 

Photographs: #1, 2, 3, 4 & 6 © AP Images.

These are used in a nonprofit, historical context with the claim of fair use.

#5 © 1981 Michael Medeiros.

This web site is copyright © 2011 by Michael Medeiros. All rights reserved.

Made on a Mac