Remembering David Sancious’ 1980 ‘Across the Universe’ tribute to John Lennon (LISTEN HERE)

David Sancious John Lennon

A vintage photo of David Sancious.

Dec. 8, 1980 — 39 years ago today — was the day that John Lennon was killed in New York. Many of us can still remember where we were when we heard the news.

Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, asked for fans throughout the world to honor him with 10 minutes of silence on Sun., Dec. 14, and many did that, gathering in New York’s Central Park and elsewhere. Radio stations also observed 10 minutes of silence. But WNEW-FM in New York did something a little different, broadcasting a 10-minute version of his Beatles song, “Across the Universe,” played live on a grand piano at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic by former E Street Band member David Sancious, with no audience. Other radio stations carried the feed as well.

Sancious’ performance was never officially released in any form. But many years later, former WNEW disc jockey Vin Scelsa, then on WFUV-FM and SiriusXM satellite radio, played a copy he had, and a fan named Jim Abbott posted it on YouTube. You can listen to it below.

Scelsa shares memories about that day from the 45-second mark of the video until about 5:30, and then Sancious’ music is heard on the rest of it.


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