Beatles fans gather in Central park to remember Lennon, Harrison

Sunday, December 9th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ More than two decades after John Lennon was gunned down by a deranged fan, devoted fans of the ex-Beatle gathered Saturday to mourn on the anniversary of his death.

Hundreds of people surrounded the Imagine mosaic in Strawberry Fields, an area of Central Park dedicated to Lennon after he was shot in 1980 by Mark David Chapman in front of the nearby Dakota, the luxury apartment building where he lived.

They sang Beatles tunes, bobbed their heads to the beat of a band, burned candles and remembered the singer who meant so much to them.

``It's a weird thing. It's been your whole life, the Beatles,'' said Larry Martin, a professional guitarist. ``I had older brothers, so from the time I was 3 or 4 my earliest memories are of the Beatles.''

Martin said his decision to attend this year was influenced by the death of George Harrison, who succumbed to lung cancer on Nov. 29.

''(Lennon) was the soul of the Beatles, Harrison was the spirit,'' Martin said. ``Paul was the heart, and Ringo was the drummer.''

On a nearby bench, someone had left a posterboard, held down by four green apples, that said, ``Thanks for the music, John and George. Imagine ... you two jamming somewhere and we say it's all right. We won't forget.''

Geno Barron, who said he goes to Strawberry Fields each year on Dec. 8, made the trip a family event this time, bringing his daughters, Brooke and Carly.

``The first song I ever remember hearing is 'I Want to Hold Your Hand,'' Barron said. ``Since I've was 13 they've been my group.''

Al Wunsch went to Strawberry Fields to mourn and remember another time.

``It's like they created a world, and where did that go?'' he said.

With tears, flowers and hands raised in peace signs, Beatles fans in California gathered outside the Capitol Records building, some saying Lennon's message of peace is more relevant now as the U.S. wages war.

Fans arranging bouquets in a floral peace symbol on the sidewalk near Lennon's star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

A nearby guitar case overflowed with flowers. Next to it were pictures of Lennon and Harrison, who died in Los Angeles.

Rebecca Dimmick of Ontario, Calif., wept and hugged her sister. Her son, 23-year-old Brandon Pollock, is a Marine who recently shipped out to Afghanistan.

''(Lennon's) message was so much about world peace and my son's at war right now,'' she said. ``It just really meant a lot to me to be here today to celebrate peace.''