On December 8, 1980, legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz shot John Lennon and Yoko Ono at the couple’s New York City apartment for Rolling Stone magazine. Though Leibovitz had intended to shoot Lennon alone, insisted Yoko be in the photograph. At the end of the shoot, Lennon said the photograph of him nude curled around his wife “captured our relationship exactly.” Five hours later, he was shot outside of the Dakota Building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. Rolling Stone’s used Leibovitz’s photograph as the cover of the January 22, 1981 Lennon tribute issue and in 2005 was names the top cover of the past 40 years by the American Society of Magazine Editors.
The iconic photograph can be found in the master-collection Rolling Stone Cover to Cover: The First 40 Years.