How Mark Chapman Nearly Murdered David Bowie

Despite becoming eligible for parole in 2000 and given the right to appeal his sentence every two years, Mark Chapman remains behind bars for the murder of rock legend John Lennon, whom he shot dead at point-blank range in New York City in December 1980 (per Newsweek). Though the reasoning underpinning the parole board's decision-making process has not been made public, it is believed that the premeditated and callous nature of the killing plays a part in Chapman's ongoing imprisonment.

According to The Guardian, Chapman admitted that he sought out to kill Lennon to ensure his own international fame. "I felt that by killing John Lennon I would become somebody, and instead of that I became a murderer, and murderers are not somebodies," he said in 2010. Chapman chose Lennon as his target after weeks of embittered thoughts after which he branded the ex-Beatles singer a "phony" and hypocrite deserving of death. But as Chapman also admitted: "If it wasn't Lennon, it could have been someone else." And according to a number of reliable sources, that someone else was also a beloved superstar: David Bowie, who was in New York City at the time of Lennon's tragic death.

Was David Bowie Mark Chapman's secondary target?

In September 1980, David Bowie, who had been looking to branch out from his rock career, took to the stage in New York to play the lead in a Broadway production of Barnard Pomerance's 1977 play "The Elephant Man." According to David Bowie News, the production — which had begun in San Francisco in July of that year — ran until January 1981. By then, John Lennon would be dead, having been shot just a few miles from the Booth Theatre where Bowie (pictured rehearsing above) was performing.

Veteran rock DJ and interviewer Redbeard spoke to Bowie about how close the singer came to being Mark Chapman's victim. According to Bowie, police officers revealed to him after the attack that Chapman had lined him up as a potential backup if he had been unable to get close to Lennon on that fateful night. "I was second on his list, the detectives said," said Bowie, via In The Studio. "John and Yoko were supposed to sit front row for that show, too. So the night after John was killed there were three empty seats in the front row. I can't tell you how difficult that was to go on. I almost didn't make it through the performance."

According to Bowie biographer Roger Griffin (via Adelaide Now), the NYPD found evidence that Chapman was indeed planning to attend "The Elephant Man." This evidence included tickets and a show program ... with Bowie's name circled in black.