Category: John Lennon

Remembering music icon John Lennon (born John Winston Lennon in Liverpool, UK) – October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980

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The Beatles during the filming of Help! (1965)

On this day in music history: November 28, 1974 – John Lennon makes his final live concert appearance at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He performs on stage with his friend Elton John, agreeing to appear with him if “What Ever Gets You Thru The Night”, the Lennon single that John sings background on hits number one on the Billboard Hot 100. When the single tops the chart on November 16, 1974, Lennon follows through and honors the bet. The two perform three songs including “Night”, “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and “I Saw Her Standing There”. The latter of which is released as the B-side to “Philadelphia Freedom” in early 1975. In 1981, shortly after John Lennon’s death Elton John’s UK label DJM Records releases a 12" EP featuring the three songs the pair performed that night (“Whatever Gets You Through The Night”, “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and “I Saw Her Standing There”).

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On this day in music history: November 17, 1980 – “Double Fantasy” by John Lennon & Yoko Ono is released. Produced by John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas, it is recorded at The Hit Factory in New York City from August 4 – September 22, 1980. It is the first new music from Lennon in over five years after his self imposed “retirement” to raise his and Ono’s son Sean. Lennon writes the majority of his songs after a sailing trip from Newport, RI to the island of Bermuda. Ono also composes a number of new songs during this same period that are included on the finished album. John and Yoko work with producer Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick) on the project, having previously worked as a recording engineer for Lennon on the “Imagine” album. The sessions (recorded in a very low key and secretive manner to avoid media attention) go very quickly and smoothly, with the Lennon’s being supported by a number of crack session musicians including Tony Levin (bass), Hugh McCracken (guitar), and Andy Newmark (drums). The sessions are so productive, that they produce enough material for not just one, but two full albums (the unused material is later released as “Milk And Honey” in January of 1984). The title “Double Fantasy”, comes from the name a flower Lennon sees in a botanical garden, while vacationing in Bermuda. It is recorded while Lennon is not under contract to a record label, with his solo contract with Capitol/EMI having expired in 1975. Once word gets around about the project, offers from numerous record labels come pouring in. Eventually they sign with Geffen Records, with David Geffen offering to release the album without hearing a note. It spins off three hit singles including “(Just Like) Starting Over)” (#1 Pop) and “Woman” (#2 Pop). The record is steadily climbing the charts when Lennon is murdered by a deranged fan on December 8, 1980. The album wins the Grammy Award for Album Of The Year in 1982. “Fantasy” is reissued by Capitol/EMI in 1989 when the rights revert back to Yoko Ono, after she parts ways with Geffen Records several years earlier. The album is first remastered and reissued on CD with three additional bonus tracks, on John’s Birthday in 2000, also to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of its original release. It is remastered and reissued again in 2010 as two CD set titled “Double Fantasy Stripped Down” with the second disc containing alternate mixes of the fourteen tracks. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 2015. “Double Fantasy” spends eight weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 16, 1974 – “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” by John Lennon hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written and produced by John Lennon, it is the first solo chart topper for the former Beatle. Returning to his adopted hometown of New York City in the Summer of 1974, John Lennon begins work on his fifth solo album “Walls And Bridges”. Lennon is up late one night watching television and sees a sermon by famed evangelist the Reverend Ike, hearing the preacher state “Let me tell you guys, it doesn’t matter, it’s whatever gets you through the night.” Seizing upon the phrase, John jots it down immediately on a notepad and begins writing a song around those words. While working on the album, Elton John happens to be in town at the time, and John invites him to come by the studio. Elton hears “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” and likes it immediately. With Lennon having sang background vocals and playing guitar on Elton’s cover of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, the musician returns the favor by playing piano and singing harmony vocals on “Night”. As the session concludes, Elton tells John that he believes he’s just cut a number one single. Lennon laughs and tells him, “it’s not a number one”. Elton is so insistent that it is, he gets Lennon to agree to perform the song on stage with him if it does hit number one. Thinking that it has no chance, John agrees to the bet. When Capitol Records Vice President Al Coury hears “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night”, he insists that it is the first single released from the album. When it is issued in September of 1974, it takes off quickly. Entering the Hot 100 at #53 on September 28, 1974, it leaps to the top of the chart seven weeks later, making Lennon the last of The Beatles to score a number one single on his own. Two weeks after “Night” hits the top of the chart, John makes good on his promise to Elton, appearing on stage with him at Madison Square Garden on November 28, 1974. The pair perform “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night”, “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, and “I Saw Here Standing There”. The performance has additional significance since it is the last time John Lennon performs in concert in his lifetime. Those performances are released on a 12" EP in the UK by DJM Records in early 1981 after Lennon’s death.

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The Beatles on set of a “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964)  

Born on this day: October 9, 1940 – Singer, songwriter and Rock & Roll icon John Lennon (born John Winston Lennon in Liverpool, UK). Happy Birthday to John on what would have been his 79th Birthday. Also Happy 44th Birthday to Sean Lennon (born Sean Taro Ono Lennon in New York City) born on this day in 1975.

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Couples in New York City – Photos by Bob Gruen

Ike Turner & Tina Turner in Central Park on July 2, 1971.

John Lennon & Yoko Ono

on 73rd St and Central Park West on April 2,1973

Sonny Bono & Cher on Lexington Avenue on May 5, 1973. 

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The Beatles at Capitol Records in Hollywood, 1966.

Photos by Bruce McBroom

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Couples on the Cover of Rolling Stone

John Lennon & Yoko Ono (November 23, 1968)

Ike & Tina Turner (October 14, 1971)

Paul & Linda McCartney (January 31, 1974)

Rod Stewart & Britt Ekland (November 6,1975)

Rita Coolidge & Kris Kristofferson (February 23, 1978)

Prince & Vanity (April 28, 1983)

Pamela Anderson & Tommy Lee (May 10, 2001)

Cardi B & Offset (July 2018)