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- I found out that John Lennon had been murdered when I was walking home from school, one of my classmates mentioned it, and it upset me to no end that his life was taken from him.

- When Steve Clark from Def Leppard decided to kill himself by booze I was out walking my dog when my neighbor walked out and said, he did himself in, that pissed me off as well, that he was so weak that he couldn't see that life was worth living

- Michael Hutchence came as a big shock to me as well, he seemed like he had it all together, little did I know he couldn't see 3 feet in front him since he was young, had lost his sense of smell and taste when he was attacked in France, and turned himself into a basketcase on pharmaceuticals calling it a day naked in his room

- Kurt Cobain, this is bad but it must be said, I never seen a rock band or a rock band's fans treat other rock fans like we were all total losers before, Nirvana was basically a more rude version of Rolling Stone Magazine, a modern verision of the Pistols and I for one cracked a smile when Nirvana came to an end.

- Mick Ronson, I was travelling in New Hampshire when I heard the news and was shocked, but to be honest, he looked like death at the Freddy Mercury show back in 92 so we all knew that was coming.

- Freddy Mercury died, I looked at my dad and said, "now Queen is going to become acceptable with a certain crowd of folks who generally dislike guitars and drums" and of course it happened, they are played in every illegal dance club on the Eastern seaboard and featured on American Idol. I remember thinking at the time also if Freddy had hated the choices he made in life knowing it was all crashing so soon and so early in his life.

- John Bonham died and me dad said to me, it's all over, when Zeppelin called it a day, my dad cried, and said to me that music will never push to the next horizon again, and he was right, rock music needs Zeppelin.

I was eating pancakes with my family at an IHop in Dallas, Texas when a tearful waitress told us that Elvis had died. We all cried. But not as much as we did when we learned that Led Zeppelin had ended. My father was devastated; he idolized Jimmy.

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Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination (April 4, 1968). I was in third grade and learned about his death when I got home from school. My mother was crying and told us what had happened. There was a riot in my hometown soo after with the National Guard called in and schools closed for several days. I watched the funeral on TV with my mother. I had heard his name before, but I didn't know why he was so important until my father sat us kids down and explained what he had done for African-Americans.

Robert Kennedy's assassination (June 6, 1968). I was 8 years old and we had just got out of school for the summer. Some friends of my parents called and told them he had been shot. My family watched his funeral on television. 1968 was a very turbulent year. Even a clueless 8 year old could pick up on the tension and bad vibes floating about that spring and summer.

Elvis Presley's death. (August 1977). I had just graduated from high school. I was surprised at his death since I hadn't known about his health and substance abuse problems. Back then, it was a lot harder for the general public to learn dirt about celebrities.

John Lennon's murder (December 8, 1980). I was a senior in college and it was finals week. I was on my way to the dining hall the next morning to grab some breakfast when a friend told me what had happened.

Bob Marley's death. (May 1981). It was the spring of my senior year in college; about a month before I graduated. I was busy finishing up my course work and applying for jobs. One of the fraternities at my college had a party in his honor a week later.

Marvin Gaye. (April 1, 1984). My maternal grandmother as in the hospital on life support following a massive stroke at the time. My family was huddled about the hospital visitors' lounge when we overheard some other visitors talk about it. One more thing: It was a Sunday. I remember because some of my mother's friends were dressed in their Sunday best when they came to sit with us, having come straight from church.

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster (January 25, 1986). I was at work on my lunch break. We had a television in the staff lounge and they interrupted normal programming with the news.

9/11. September 11, 2001. I was at work when I first heard what had happened. We had our monthly faculty meeting the second Tuesday of every month from 9-11 am. After the meeting I went upstairs to check my mail box. The student assistant who sorted our mail told me a plane had flown into the World Trade Building. At that point, we (she and I) weren't sure if it was a terrible accident or something more sinister. The one thing I'll always remember about 9/11 is what a glorious day it was in terms of weather. It was warm but not humid with clear blue skies.

The London bombings (July 7, 2005). I was at home and had just stepped out of the shower when I heard the news on NPR. I was on sabbatical that summer working on a research project.

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  • 10 months later...

I was a schoolboy when Lennon died and I don't remember hearing much about it.

I was traveling on a train from Barcelona to Paris when Princess Diana died. I heard about her death a few hours after I reached Paris.

I was on the battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania when the planes hit on 9/11. I didn't learn of the disaster until an hour later when I entered the town.

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