John Lennon Remembered On His 80th Birthday

In addition to being one of the most important musicians of the 20th century, John Lennon was a cultural icon, a philanthropist and a beloved friend.

Today, October 9, 2020, what would have been his 80th birthday, John is fondly remembered for the myriad ways he contributed to the world.

His surviving Beatles bandmates Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr each shared sweet tributes to their friend via social media. While added their how John's music and message has inspired them in their lives.

Q104.3's Ken Dashow dug deeper with some of John's old friends for some lesser-known anecdotes.

Easily the most shocking story comes from John's former girlfriend May Pang, who recalled seeing a UFO hovering over her and John's Manhattan apartment in the summer of 1974.

John referenced the event in the liner notes of his Walls and Bridges album.

Keyboardist Jon Cobert and saxophonist Mark Rivera began working with John when they were just 19 and 21, respectively.

"He was the most fun," Cobert tells Dashow of John. "He was kind. He was generous. He was funny — funny as heck."

Rivera, who's perhaps best know as a member of Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band and as Billy Joel's longtime sax player, recalled the surreal environment of the Record Plant in the '70s, where he met John and Yoko Ono and eventually found himself in their band. Rivera notes that the couple was affable and friendly, despite drama behind the scenes.

"He was very loving, he was very appreciate of the [music] situation that was going on," Rivera recalled. "Everything that was going on in his life, between the deportation, the immigration concerns, you know, I can't imagine what they went through, [The Beatles] and after the fact what John, in particular, went through. People...were afraid of him because he was telling the truth, and that seems to be the problem these days."

Artist Klaus Voorman designed the album cover for The Beatles' Revolver album and later played in John's band. Voorman is the bassist on "Imagine." He recalled meeting John in the early-'60s when The Beatles were an unknown band playing clubs in Hamburg, Germany.

John always struck Voorman as a little bit sad and unsure of him until one day, years later.

"The first time I saw him happy was when he was with Yoko," Voorman said.

A fellow Liverpudlian, musician Billy J. Kramer came up with The Beatles and was also managed by Brian Epstein. Kramer recalls seeing The Beatles for the first time and immediately understanding that they were something special.

"Let's face it: that night changed my world," Kramer said of his introduction to The Beatles.

He was an instant fan, and soon became a friend of the band. Kramer says it was John who urged Epstein to sign him.

"John said, 'You know, you should check out that kid Billy Kramer. He's good. He's a good singer.' I'll always be indebted for all the help I had," Kramer said. "Can you imagine that he came to see me rehearse and record us at the Cavern [Club]. God, I wish he was around today."

Check out all the conversations in the video player above!