Few rock images are more iconic than the Rolling Stone issue paying tribute to John Lennon following his death on December 8th, 1980. Legendary photographer, Annie Leibovitz took the legendary shot of Lennon and wife Yoko Ono only hours before Lennon was murdered in front of his home at the Dakota apartment building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Leibovitz, had promised the Lennon's that the photo would grace the cover of the magazine, and sadly it became the January 22nd, 1981 cover without any words commemorating the late-Beatle, letting the image alone tell the story. She recalled the groundbreaking photograph to Adweek.com, explaining, "I sometimes think of that photograph as 10 years in the making. I met John Lennon and Yoko Ono in New York in the early part of my career. It was 1980, and he had just finished the album Double Fantasy with Yoko. I had seen the cover, which was both of them kissing. And I thought, Oh my gosh. This was the 1980's -- romance was a little dead. And I was so moved by that kiss. There was so much in that simple picture of a kiss. So, for the photo I wanted to take, I imagined them somehow together. And it wasn't a stretch to imagine them with their clothes off, because they did it all the time. But what happened at the last minute was that Yoko didn't want to take her clothes off. So, we went ahead with the picture, and it was this very striking picture of Yoko clothed against a naked John. And of course, John was murdered later that afternoon."
She went on to say: "It's actually an excellent example of how circumstances change a picture. Suddenly, that photograph has a story. You're looking at it and thinking it's their last kiss, or they're saying goodbye. You can make up all sorts of things about it. I think it's amazing when there's a lot of levels to a photograph."
Just prior to his death, John Lennon recalled writing his final songs during the spring of 1980: "I was in Bermuda and Yoko was in New York doing some business. And then when we made a tentative decision -- when the month was over in Bermuda -- that we would make a record, I didn't have any material. Then, suddenly it came to me. All the songs that are on Double Fantasy all came within the period of three weeks."