Why Do We Kill The Music? Motives Behind 5 Notorious Murders

On this day in 1981, Mark David Chapman was sentenced to a term of 20 years to life for the murder of John Lennon.

Why did he do it? Today Rocks Off explores the motives behind the attacks on some of the musical messiahs in our midst, and tries to explain just what drove their attackers to the ultimate act of censorship.


Chapman was a troubled boy all his life, but was a passionate Beatles fan at a young age. But when Lennon made his infamous remark that the Fab Four were "bigger than Jesus" in 1966, Chapman became very angry. Though he remained a committed fan, Chapman often found himself in a rage over what he considered "phony behavior" on the part of Lennon, such as singing "imagine no possessions" while being a multimillionaire.

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Chapman identified heavily with J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, and likened himself to the book's main protagonist, Holden Caufield. Chapman saw himself as standing on a cliff and keeping others from falling into the folly of believing the thoughts and feelings expressed in Lennon's music, a fantasy that eventually led to Lennon's murder.

In later years, Chapman has come to terms with the fact that he killed a person, and not a cardboard cutout or walking album cover. He is up for parole again next month.


Few celebrity deaths have rocked Houston and South Texas like the murder of Selena in 1995. Rocks Off remembers his school barely noticing the passing of Kurt Cobain, but being launched into weeks of mourning over the loss of what many called the "Mexican Madonna" at the hand of her own fan club president.

Yolanda Saldivar has always maintained that Selena's death was an accident, although as a trained nurse she did nothing to aid the singer after she was shot. One signed confession said that the shooting happened during an argument over accusations by Selena's father that Saldivar was stealing money from Selena's bank account, and that Saldivar was a lesbian.

Saldivar is eligible for parole in 2025. She is currently in solitary confinement after receiving numerous death threats from incarcerated Selena fans.

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