John Lennon And Elton John – LIVE!
It’s one of the greatest moments in rock history, but forgotten to time – John Lennon’s LAST live performance of all time – which ended with him performing a classic Beatles song – originally sung by Paul!
John Lennon Loses A Bet – And Performs Live!
John Lennon‘s last ever live appearance was on Nov. 28, 1974 – on stage with Elton John at Madison Square Garden: and he only appeared because he lost a bet!
John’s Musical Comeback!
In the mid-70’s, Lennon’s musical output was spotty, so when he went into the studio in 1974, he was ready for a renaissance. He reached out to his pal Elton John, who sang and played piano on two songs: “Surprise Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox)” and “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night”.
As “Ultimate Classic Rocks” reports:
“To that point, Lennon had been the only former Beatle who’d never achieved a solo No. 1 single — a streak Elton suggested would be snapped by “Whatever.” So confident was Elton, in fact, that he suggested a little wager.
“He sang harmony on it and he really did a damn good job,” Lennon told David Sheff in 1980. “So, I sort of halfheartedly promised that if ‘Whatever Gets You Thru the Night’ became No. 1, which I had no reason to expect, I’d do Madison Square Garden with him. So one day Elton called and said, ‘Remember when you promised…’”
“Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” had moved past Bachman-Turner Overdrive‘s “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” that November to top the Billboard singles charts!”
The article continues:
“Lennon hadn’t made a full-length performance since 1972’s One to One concert, also held at the Garden. To get over the pre-show jitters, he’d actually slipped into an earlier Elton John show at Boston. “I was thinking ‘Thank God it isn’t me,’ as he was getting dressed to go on,” Lennon told Scheff. “I went through my stage fright at Boston so, by the time I got to Madison Square, I had a good time — and when I walked on they were all screaming and shouting. It was like Beatlemania. I was thinking ‘What is this?’ ’cause I hadn’t heard it since the Beatles.”
Carrying a black Fender Telecaster, Lennon performed a total of only three songs, opening with the new hit then following with “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” — which Elton John had recently covered with Lennon on vocals and guitar, releasing it just 10 days before this show — and a surprise nugget from even further back in the Beatles catalog.”
“Whatever Gets You Through The Night” Live!
So John took the stage with Elton’s band and launched into a spirited live version of the song.
Here is a masterful reconstruction of the night, with real audio and a mix of footage to cover from a variety of recreated sources:
A Beatles Classic Live!
After the incredible response from he audience, Lennon introduced an “old favorite” with one of his classic quips:
“We tried to think of a number to finish off with so I can get out of here and be sick, and we thought we’d do a number of an old, estranged fiance of mine, called Paul. This is one I never sang, it’s an old Beatle number, and we just about know it.”
They then launched into “I Saw Her Standing There!”
Here is some great trivia:
“The setlist was actually a point of contention, as Elton initially insisted that Lennon perform his 1971 anthem “Imagine.” Lennon demurred, telling Scheff that he “didn’t want to come on like Dean Martin doing my classic hits. I wanted to have some fun and play some rock and roll — and I didn’t want to do more than three, because it was Elton’s show after all.” Their live take on “I Saw Her Standing There” later appeared as the b-side to Elton John’s single “Philadelphia Freedom” in February 1975.”
Read the entire story, thanks to the great website “Ultimateclassicrock”:
The album was a huge hit for Lennon, thanks to “Whatever Gets You Through The Night” as well as another hit single, “#9 Dream.”
Here is the promo video for that song, which recounts a dream John had one night – a beautiful song:
The entire album is a great return to form for Lennon!
Here is a great commercial for the album, narrated by Ringo!
Here’s a great clip from Youtube: On November 15, 1974 a two-man BBC film crew, directed by John, spent a day with him around Central Park and various other locations in New York, to shoot a 16mm colour promotional film for the song “Whatever Gets You Through The Night”.
Thanks to “Lost Weekend” for posting that incredible clip on Youtube!
What was so great about the album cover was the front, which was cut horizontally into thirds, so you could change up the look – a collection of John’s drawings as a child:
“Walls & Bridges” is a great album that put John back in the musical spotlight, and got him some gold records as well!
Now, what about his on-stage partner that night? Well, he was doing just fine. This was at a time when Elton John was the biggest musical star in the world, and he dressed like it!
Elton John released an amazing amount of classic music in the 70’s – see some of those great performances here:
Lennon’s #1 hit returned him to the top of the charts, after years away in a boozy descent into madness – along with his friend Harry Nilsson:
They did collaborate on some music – see that story here:
Bravo to John lennon for paying off his bet in rollicking style!