On December 8 1980, Annie Leibovitz photographed Beatles singer John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono at the couple’s Manhattan home for Rolling Stone magazine. Leibovitz had originally wanted to shoot Lennon alone, but the singer insisted they both be in the photograph, much to Annie’s annoyance. After Leibovitz asked Lennon to pose naked and curl up next to his wife, apparently Ono offered to also take off her top, but the photographer told her to keep her clothes on.
The resulting image of a nude Lennon cuddling his clothed wife “captured our relationship exactly,” Lennon reportedly said after seeing a Polaroid.
A matter of hours later and Lennon was shot dead outside the Dakota Building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side . The photograph was the cover of Rolling Stone‘s tribute to Lennon, and in 2005 it was selected by the American Society of Magazine Editors as the top cover of the previous 40 years. Though many believed this image to be the last picture of Lennon to ever be taken, the final photo of John was in fact taken a few hours after Liebowitz’s, by a fan waiting outside Lennon’s apartment. That final photo captured John immediately after signing an autograph for Mark David Chapman, the man who would later assassinate him.
Love (February 2010)