In-depth reviews of classic or neglected albums, mainly from the 1960s and 70s, plus a weekly newsletter featuring all the latest news, views and music. Artists covered include Beach Boys, Beatles, Belle and Sebastian, Buffalo Springfield, Byrds, Crosby Stills and Nash, Dire Straits, Grateful Dead, Hollies, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Kinks, Nils Lofgren, Monkees, Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Searchers, Simon and Garfunkel, Small Faces, 10cc, The Who and Neil Young.
Monday, 11 January 2016
John Lennon: Surviving TV Clips 1968-1980
All we are saying is give our Lennon Youtube playlist a chance! Now up and running at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlzWxNlf9POSkYxphBTO1iIWeT1GGGtaD In between the world keeping you doped with religion and sex and TV and in between the times when there is nothin' on anyway (summer repeats!) every so often there'll be an AAA appearance too good to miss. This is the fourteenth occasion when we've looked at all of the surviving clips by our range of artists and it should come as no surprise that John Lennon in particular really understood the importance of the visual medium in representing music. After all many people's introduction to The Beatles had come through their films or the Ed Sullivan Show - we've already covered the ins and outs of The Beatles' surviving teleography a few articles back. Lennon wasn't around for anywhere near as long in his solo years as he was around as a Beatle - a mere six years before his house-husband phase - and it would have been fascinating to know what he might have made of the developments that came along after he died: MTV, deeper chat shows, satellite concerts, global charity events...Even so, this is list is a good one and considering how few years it covers a surprisingly long one too.
Thankfully the Lennon archives are a lot more complete than the Beatles ones are. Television companies were less likely to chuck stuff out once we hit the 'colour' years (which in Europe at least more or less coincide with The Beatles' split) and TV stations have learnt that the 1960s pop phenomenon is one that isn't going away any time soon. The other good news is that a lot of these clips have seen the light of day on various videos and DVDs down the years too - recycled in things like the 'Imagine' documentary, the 'US v John Lennon' documentary, the music video compilation 'Lennon Legend' and a Dick Cavett Show special dedicated wholly to John and Yoko's two appearances. We've decided to skip on this list any TV or film appearance which exists 'complete' by the way (hopefully all that is dealt with in our 'DVD' section) so the 'Sweet Toronto' and 'Live In New York City Shows' aren't here for instance. Oh and we've also stuck to the releases made in Lennon's lifetime - so we've missed out the rather charming posthumous music videos to 'Milk and Honey' or the ones made especially for the 'Lennon Legend' LP (so everything here was 'okayed' by Lennon at one time or another, even if some of the 'Double Fantasy' videos were only discussed or works in progress). We've also decided to skip John and Yoko's avant garde films because, well, I'm not sure I can face 75 minutes of John smiling in slow motion or an endless parade of celebrities baring their bottoms so TV (and the occasional film recording) that are 'broadcastable' it is. Do bear in mind also that this book starts when Lennon's solo career does (kind of) back in 1968 and his first on-screen appearance with Yoko rather than solo performance when he was still a Beatle (not that there are many - simply two 'Not Only But Also' sketches with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore' which are even more 1960s than 'A Hard Day's Night' or 'Magical Mystery Tour'!) Note too that I've only covered footage that absolutely definitively positively exists - footage that I've seen with my own eyes as opposed to simply reading about - it could well be that there are still other Lennon clips out there waiting to be re-discovered or that I simply haven't found, so this list is in no way definitive (though we've given it a blooming good go - do write in if there's something you think we've missed). Even with all those caveats, however, that still leaves an awful lot, including an awful lot of relatively rare and unseen material that's currently unavailable though - the John Sinclair and Ann Arbor rallies, a controversial decision to make Lennon the only musician nominated for the 1969 programme 'man of the decade' and a quite staggering amount of chat show appearances. Lennon really did have a lot to say, especially during his early solo years, and usually said it well, with or without Yoko alongside him. Sadly many of the items here are still officially unavailable but don'tworry don'tworry don'tworry - you can still view many of them for free at our especially compiled Youtube video playlist (https://www.youtube.com/user/AlansArchives) - simply have a look down our playlists until you get to the one marked Lennon (we'll try and keep it as updated as we can but do bear in mind that videos comes and go on Youtube all the time so we can't 100% guarantee that they'll always be there!) Anyway hopefully they'll be out officially one day too - all we are saying is give these TV clips a chance!...
1) Frost On Saturday (UK TV August 1968)
'Art is just a tag like a journalists' tag, only artist's believe it'. David Frost's slightly staid and formal style doesn't seem the natural mix for John and Yoko's style and Lennon - looking like a moving version of his 'White Album' photo - does indeed get rather defensive over the course of this interview. However Lennon clearly enjoyed appearing on this chat show as he appeared on three separate editions hosted by Frost (all with slightly different names) as a solo act and once as a Beatle earlier in the year. Ignorant as the host is (or pretends to be) he does at least give John and Yoko the chance to speak with a full twenty minutes given over to the pair's closing spot. Most of this first show - the first time many of the public would have heard Yoko speak - was to publicise their early art events together. Lennon offers Frost a badge reading 'You Are Here' - the title of a Lennon-sponsored Ono art exhibit and a title he'll use for a 1973 song. The concept is that everything is 'here' right now and everything is art, Lennon arguing that to a child without preconceived ideas a broken cup is as good as a piece of sculpture - Frost quipping that 'I'm not entirely sure whether I'm here!' John and Yoko also show their new film 'Smile' (well an extract from it - the full film would have taken the whole series if shown complete!) John also says that he filmed people's re-action to his exhibits as another exhibit - what happened to that priceless footage?! The audience clearly think Lennon is mad but as ever he has quite a few excellent points - people stare at blank paintings of one expression so why not a slowly moving film of a face with all the facial ticks people don't usually notice. Frost then confuses Lennon with the Beach Boys and asks him to explain 'vibrations'. Lennon invites the TV audience to hammer a nail into a board and even smoothes down the audience member's collar. 'Roll up!' says Lennon, 'It was really unbeliveable!' says a second audience member with heavy irony, 'I've learnt a lot from John' adds Yoko. John talks about how the pair met an Indica Art Gallery and how 'embarrassing it is being a Beatle walking into a gallery - getting bounced on like I'm a rich Texan!' Most interestingly of all, John then talks about enjoying imaginary things in his childhood, of thinking of doing things being as good as doing them and the state between dreaming and being awake (he ought to get together with Ray Davies!) Asked for a summary Lennon says 'we try and explain ourselves but we're not very articulate' before Yoko adds 'all we have to do is communicate - this is a way of touching each other'. The show then fades out to the sound of 'Hey Jude's 'na na na's,leading Lennon to conduct the room!
2) Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (UK TV Unscreened 'Yer Blues' 'Whole Lotta Yoko' December 1968)
Despite what was being written in the press, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were closer to being friends than bitter enemies - despite a few ups and downs over the years The Beatles had plugged their rivals a lot in the early days and the Stones tended to be fond of their competitors rather than sneering like they were with every other band. The Beatles were among the guests invites to the Stones' own version of 'Magical Mystery Tour', filmed inside a circus tent a year later with circus acts and guest stars including The Who filmed throughout the day before the Stones took to the stage at night (legend has it their gig is awful, after a technical issue delayed filming until the early hours when the band had been up well over 24 hours and they are a tad sluggish on the whole, but in Mick Jagger's case at least it's the single best concert he ever gave). Many of the guests appeared in cameo roles before their big performance, including John and Mick introducing The Who (Jagger: 'I'm sorry we've not gotten together as often as I'd like' John: 'Well, it's not been my fault Michael!') Lennon, eating some chop suey while the talk, hands Jagger his plate as if expecting him to clean up! Outtakes feature an understandably nervous Julian Lennon, then aged five, surrounded by the band that for so many came to personify evil, fellow wholigans The Who and his soon-to-be-step mum Yoko whose dressed as a witch. He probably still has nightmare flashbacks about it now. As for JohnandYoko's performance, they're part of a 'supergroup' billed 'The Dirty Mac' with Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell at the back and Cream and soon to be Plastic Ono Band guitarist Eric Clapton up front. Struggling to find a suitable bassist Bill Wyman was all set to play, before Keith Richards muscled in - he's not half the bass player his colleague is although he has a nice McCartney feel on their first number 'Yer Blues', then a brand new song from a barely released 'White Album'. Lennon probably chose it because it was simple and sounded a lot like the bluesier sounds Clapton was known for. The band are then joined by violinist Ivry Gritlis for a slightly lighter 'Don't Worry Kyoko' style jam wittily renamed by the Stones 'A Whole Lotta Yoko'. Gritlis gets the giggles but John and Yoko are awfully serious given that they're dressed as a clown and a witch. After all that, the Stones got cold feet, Brian Jones (on his last legs throughout the show) died soon after and the entire show went unseen until 1997 (apart from The Who's terrific performance of 'A Quick One' which Lennon himself can be heard attempting to sing on the 'Let It Be Sessions' a month later- legend has it the Stones felt they'd been 'upstaged' by their London cousins). However the show was a useful one for Lennon for many reasons - it proved he could play live outside The Beatles, it introduced Yoko to the public by demonstrating they were an 'item' and it introduced him to director Michael Lindsey-Hogg who'd just been hired to direct what became 'Let It Be'. The show came out on DVD in 2003 - and very good it is too, coming at the bottom end of our 'top ten classic AAA DVDs' column a few years ago.
3) Bed-In (Most Countries March 1969)
The Lennons were passionate film-makers and recorded everything between 1969 and 1971, whether it was important or mundane. Clearly their honeymoon in the Amsterdam Hilton and their second in Montreal was special to them and they hired film-makers to record as much of it as they could - four minutes of which became the basis for the 'Give Peace A Chance' video and some 80 being edited together for the 'Year Of Peace' DVD of 2009 (though some copies - mine included - refer to it simply as 'Bed-In'); an earlier edit 'Bed Peace' was made available in full on Youtube for free by Yoko herself to promote 'peace'. Most of the footage is mute and what isn't consists of the pair ordering room service and making unmiked conversation, but there are some special moments - JohnandYoko actually making the banners that have since become so famous from all the photographs, almost the entire press conference that took place while John and Yoko are in bed lying down, meeting Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau (whose wary, but interested), playing 'mind games' with cartoonist Al Capp (they can't decide whether he's on their side or not - neither can I), spending time with a 14-year-old fan who'd sneaked in to do a piece for his local school paper (and whom Lennon is clearly fond of, refusing to send him out) and the infamous showdown with a Gloria Emersen ('Sorry if you liked the moptops and you thought I was witty and satirical and you enjoyed A Hard Day's Night' but I've grown up - you obviously haven't!) depending what edit of this film you have. A fascinating historical document, although like many home videos you may feel like skipping long passages of it and not everything JohnandYoko did was worth filming.
4) David Frost Show (UK TV June 1969)
'It's just a diary of what's going on - on one side of the record I'm having a miscarriage and on the other I'm being arrested!' More from The Frost Show and this time it's a gone and been in colour (green!) Lennon has gown a beard and appears in the white suit he wore the same month for the front cover of 'Abbey Road'. Lennon is keen to get moving and even before being introduced is hurling acorns out of a plastic bag at the audience for 'peace week' ('come on front row cheer up now, I know you've been here all day!') Alas the idea given by Lennon is that 'we hope we live long enough to see them grow' - Lennon won't . JohnandYoko hand the host a 'box of smiles' and Lennon growls to the audience 'he'll probably throw it away after!' - it turns out to be a mirror and Frost is duly pleased by what he sees staring back at him ('Thought you'd like it!' laughs Lennon). John describes Yoko's work as 'pure and simple and white' and says that the 'Two Virgins' cover was originally a solo Yoko album with just her naked, adding that he 'didn't know' the problems it would cause but that despite it all he's 'rather pleased'. John talks about longing for their art to 'break down barriers' and 'share what we've experienced with everyone else we can communicate with and we're not hiding anything as best we can - so why are you so frightened?' The pair then talk about their new avant garde album 'Life With The Lions' ('This'll get you!' jokes Lennon). John jokes 'I'm not saying you're old, David, but if you were twelve you'd really get into it!' Frost digs deeper, asking the pair 'what do you want to do next?' Lennon answers straight away 'Have peace!' 'We've been conditioned to belief that war is inevitable and man is a violent animal that always kills things - I've been told it's too simple but what is too simple about me not killing you now? We've got to start somewhere!" John adds that had Hitler grown up in an environment of peace he might not have turned into a monster - that if we had constant peace everywhere at all times and it was the norm we might not have 'lots of Hitlers', adding carefully that Germany was a manifestation of the world's violence, not the countries'. Lennon adds 'they're only people in Government - they're the people we chose because we're so insecure we don't believe we can manage our own system'. Frost, after another twenty minutes of playing devil's advocate, is moved to tell them that they're both 'wonderful preachers'. It's one of JohnandYoko's better interviews.
5) 24 Hours - The World Of John and Yoko (UK TV December 1969)
'You're not insecure if you're busy working!' You may recognise much of this thirty-five documentary from the 1988 'Imagine' documentary, but it's interesting to see the 'original' edit of a BBC documentary about the pair's early days together. We're 'meant' to be following JohnandYoko around as they film 'Apotheosis' but it doesn't quite work out like that - the 'plan' is to have John and Yoko in a hot air balloon letting model balloons out over the city, but the pair are in a foul mood, arguing with each other about how many to buy and getting impatient when the weather is too bad to put their plan into action (the more successful bits of footage will be put together by Yoko for the posthumous music video 'Mind Games', along with footage of the Indica Gallery where the pair met). They also just love talking too much, especially to the cameras and especially in bed, which is a neat precursor of what will happen in the 'honeymoon bed-in'. Lennon talks about how there are four of them writing songs now ('Usually George lost out because Paul and I were tougher)', reads out damning letters about himself sending back his MBE ('He makes an ass of himself!') and compares advertising peace to Coca-Cola ('they've got a few years on us so it's going to take a bit of time!') Lennon also joked about a pair of fakes who are going round using their name at hotels and charging it to Apple's account - he seems impressed rather than angry! More heartbreaking is Lennon's comments when asked his thoughts on death: 'I hope we die together - our worst fear would be one of us dying before the other!' We then end with the abandoned 'Laugh Piece', originally intended as the B-side of planned Plastyic Ono Band single 'You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)' in which John and Yoko and a sea of friends wear false rubbers and lounge about Abbey Road laughing.
6) Man Of The Decade (UK TV December 1969)
'The establishment know how to beat people up, they have the arms and the equipment, and the escape was that the kids tried to take them on at their game'. ATV celebrated the end of the 1960s with a special programme detailing the lives of three people they felt had changed it. Clearly a musician had to be in there somewhere and inevitably nominator leading zoologist and broadcaster Dr Desmond Morris chose a Beatle - but the choice of Lennon alone proved to be a controversial choice. The year 1969 was full of a backlash against JohnandYoko as the 'world's clowns' making avant garde music and the episode received a huge number of complaints - some from Beatle haters who didn't understand why Lennon was chosen alongside JFK and Ho Cho Minh and others from Beatle fans asking why Paul and George weren't the other two. While the world leaders couldn't be interviewed Lennon was only too proud and pleased to talk, walking around his Scot garden, but used his vocal showcase as another debate about world politics and the stupidity of war. 'Don't be hassled by the cops and play their games, no cause is worth being killed for' is John's comment, which is a cruel irony given what will happen a few short months past the end of the next decade. Lennon compares himself to Mick Jagger down south and Eric Brudon up North and 'that we all discovered simultaneously that what the establishment was trying to do wasn't worth a damn'. Lennon is particularly proud of Woodstock ('nobody had an army that size that didn't do anything - even Beatles concerts were more violent than that!') The programme begins with a then-rare clip of 'Shea Stadium'.
7) Give Peace A Chance (Music Video 1969)
Lennon was the first Beatle to put together a music video, back when he was still technically in the band. Using highlights of the bed-in footage filmed at the couple's 'second' honeymoon at Montreal, 'Give Peace A Chance' is mainly taken from the gigantic singalong that took place. A whole sea of people took part in the chorus including the Canadian branch of the Radna Krishna Temple group, fifty fans who'd travelled to see John and Yoko and were invited to appear, Petula Clark and half of the Smothers Brothers comedy act (also staying at the hotel), press officer Derek Taylor and Yoko's daughter Kyoko, strumming along on a plastic guitar. The performance is priceless, Lennon trying to urge everyone in the room to singalong and everyone at home to understand 'peace' and one of JohnandYoko's better mini-films. One question though: what on earth did they make of all this in the next door suite? Like all the music videos on this list, 'Give Peace A Chance' appears o the DVD 'Lennon Legend', alongside some posthumous clips Yoko put together for the hit singles that were 'missing' their own video (curiously Lennon seems to have given up making them after 'Imagine')
8) Cold Turkey (Music Video 1969)
'Cold Turkey' was a very different sort of single and called for a different kind of video. A sped up montage of shots of London put together by Lennon, it features several of his characteristic touches - pulling back from the madness to the word 'love' written on a billboard and featuring yet more clips from the bed-in. The video has somewhat less to do with Lennon though and isn't quite as successful as 'Peace'
9) Power To The People (Music Video 1970)
Though remixed and re-edited for almost every passing re-issue and Lennon best-of, the gist of every incarnation of 'Power To The People' stays the same. John and Yoko looking moody as they walk down American streets singing down mega-phones intercut with footage of whatever war happened to be the last one. The song works a lot better in the visual format than it does on record, actually, as it's a song that was always intended to shock without having much in the lyrics to actually shock with - it's all in the images of the videos instead.
10) Top Of The Pops ('Instant Karma' February 1970)
None of the four Beatles had returned in person to the 'Top Of The Pops' studios since performing 'Paperback Writer' back in 1966. Lennon was the first to break the fast after a five year absence and turned in an energetic and memorable performance of his third single, which as luck would have it is one of the few surviving clips by anybody in the TOTP archives that year. Throughout Yoko sits on a chair blindfolded holding up signs while Lennon taps into his inner mojo and seems to be enjoying himself a lot.
11) Imagine: Home Footage (c.1971)
There's literally hours of this stuff, all taped by John and Yoko across 1971 where for months they recorded pretty much everything (and I mean everything - though not quite the kitchen sink we do see Lennon in the bath and even on the loo). Quite a lot of this footage was merged with the '24 Hours' and various modern interviews to create the 'Imagine' film of 1988, while confusing much of this footage also found its way into the 'classic albums' series documentary on the album 'Imagine'. Apparently many hundred hours more are still in Yoko's collection unseen - which makes you wonder what on earth must be on those given the comparatively small amount of releasable footage here. Even so there are some fascinating moments: the 'Imagine' video only made famous after Lennon's death, John recording the lead vocal to 'Jealous Guy', John and Yoko ordering and helping to erect an entirely new building over on an island on their Ascot house and looking more natural than normal around an eight-year-old Julian staying with his dad and some school friends. It's terrific stuff in parts this footage and deserves a fuller DVD release with some of the unseen material sometime - our greatest chance to see John and Yoko 'human' as even though they know the cameras are there they've clearly got used to them by the end of the experiment. They might well have carried on shooting had the Kyoko abduction and deportation hassles in America not taken up so much of their time - as it is the busy year of 1971 is perhaps the most fully filmed year of any AAA member.
12) Imagine (Music Video 1971)
Perhaps the most famous clip on this list, this music video went largely unseen until Lennon's death (in the UK at least this song was never a single until Lennon's death so there was little call for the song to be used). The footage of John at his white piano while Yoko opens the shutters in the room was instead shot for a 'making of' for the album 'Imagine' that was largely abandoned until the 'Imagine' documentary of 1988 after Lennon's death where shown in full it was quickly greeted as the highlight and has always 'felt' as if it should have been a proper part of the Lennon visual canon. As simple and yet profound as the song itself, it's one of the better combinations of music and visuals as we see inside Lennon's Ascot home.
13) Jealous Guy (Music Video 1971)
Another music video put together from the 'making of Imagine' documentary - everything John and Yoko did in 1971 was filmed inside the studio and back home, including this footage of Lennon trying to sing the lead vocal to the song, intercut with some older footage. Lennon acts casual, chewing gum throughout, but he's not fooling anyone with the passion in his voice as he sings. Look out for the moment when he accidentally knocks the lyric sheet on a stand over and instantly goes from effortless cool to clumsy fool in the space of a second - it's nice to see even Lennon was only 'human' and that this footage was kept in for this of all songs, the one where Lennon is most 'human'.
14) Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (Music Video 1971)
Another video that keeps changing with the years, with Yoko sending out new edits with footage of newer wars with every yuletide re-issue. The original is by far the best, however, with more footage of John and pictures of refugees from Vietnam and Korea. We also see schoolchildren of all races colours and belief systems singing together, which is usually corny but works rather well in context, mixed in with pictures of the famous JohnandYoko billboards advertising 'war is over (if you want it)'.
15) Live At The Filmore (Unscreened June 1971)
Well (Baby Please Don't Go)/ Jamrag/Scumbag/Au. If you're brave enough, there's a whole twenty-five minutes of visuals to go with the John/Yoko/Frank Zappa performance released as side four of 'Sometime In New York City'. Alas the show only exists in grotty quality filmed by a member of the audience, but it's still worth watching for the interactions between two very different musical giants of their day. The crowd is Zappa's by the way, with JohnandYoko his unbilled guests, but they seem most at home on the Filmore stage and simply walk on and talk to the crowd as if it was one of their gigs. The show seems even more ramshackle in this mix with much more Yoko. 'Well' ends much more violently in this version with Zappa directing them to a stop and Lennon doing Monkee-style jumps with each punctuated wail and adding a few extra 'scumbag, baby, scumbag!'s into the improvisation cut from the record. All in all it sounds much more like the Zappa mix of the record as released as 'Playground Pyshcotics' - Lennon's is better and certainly the livelier. Still, nice to see it as well as hear it - this would make a nice bonus to a 'Sometime In NYC' re-issue one day if it could be cleaned up.
16) Michael Parkinson Show (July 1971)
A bit of an oddball show where Parky (as Brits called the perennial chat show host - who later featured on Wings' 'Band On The Riun' front cover) tries to interview JohnandYoko about all sorts of serious subjects but they insist on talking from within a giant polythene bag. 'But you could be anyone!' says Parky, perhaps not getting the whole idea that 'bagism' is to stop prejudice because you can't judge a person by their race, gender or looks. Even by Lennon standards he gets defensive, fast, when Parky asks him about how the pair's antics have 'alienated' them from the general public. 'We don't mind being criticised for our art but the British press was actually calling Yoko ugly and I've never seen that about any woman or man. She's not ugly and if she was you wouldn't be so mean. I've seen people write the most attractive things about the most awful people just to be kind!' The pair didn't play anything at this show, unusually.
17) Dick Cavett Show #1 (US TV September 1971)
'Is Mr Lennon putting me on?' Another old friend makes a return appearance on this list, a year after his four interviews with Janis Joplin and a few others with CSN and Jefferson Airplane. Cavett was always one of the braver broadcasters around and by the time of the pair's second appearance this was the only show not to censor the pair's new single 'Woman Is The Nigger Of The World' (although Cavett still has to give a prior 'warning', which he's clearly uncomfortable doing). John and Yoko are dressed in the 'military gear' they wore on the 'Power To The People' single. The three had met previously 'in a dingy hotel room' leading to Cavett to quip 'I thought you were Jack Lennon' and a quick comeback 'I thought you were Fred Astaire!' Lennon is clearly a fan - when asked if there were similar shows to Cavett's round the world John says 'not as good as this one, not quite as free...we only have two channels over there' and they've been showing the same old faces since I was ten!' Yoko adds that she's 'getting used to it' and prefers it to Japanese TV now. This is an interesting conversation, with both admitting to 'turning quite fascist' as they try to prove whether England or Japan is the greater nation ('But we brought you penicillin and radar!') We also find out that US journalist Betty Rollin was a classmate of Yoko's but stabbed her in the back with a vicious article (John is more bitter than she is). Cavett adds that she once described him as 'delicious' - Lennon's comment is 'she must be on some sort of pill'. Lennon goes on to talk about his favourite teachers - 'it was always science and maths as if they don't want artists, even at art school they tried to turn me into a teacher' and quotes his favourite illustrators as Lewis Carroll, Thurber and Ronald Searle. We finally move on to the thorny issue of the break up with Yoko saying 'well it turned out alright' and John saying that 'if Yoko did cause the break-up then perhaps she ought to get the credit for all the great music all four of us have made since'. Along the way we also get rare clips of Yoko's film 'Fly' ('it was just getting interesting but you cut it because we're on TV you know'). Perhaps the best JohnandYoko interview, certainly the longest, this is a must-see for all Lennon films with the pair in a funny, chatty mood.
18) Freetime (US TV October 1971)
'Why doesn't it rain?' 'But it does' 'Oh, good! Why is Fred Astaire?' 'Why do you answer every question with another question?' 'Why do we?' Effectively a press conference held to commemorate the 'You Are Here' exhibition, this is an odd way for Lennon to spend his 31st birthday. JohnandYoko take questions from the floor, but Lennon's in an icy mood and Yoko's being impenetrable so a shy audience are rather put-off asking. 'Why are you doing this?' somebody asks at one point but she doesn't get a reply. By JohnandYoko's standards this high art concept rather falls flat and the show comes to a sorrowful end after about six minutes. Best question, an informed Lennon fan turning the tables on the star and asking 'how do you sleep?' in reference to a track from the Imagine album. Lennon's answer: mimed snoring!
19) Ten For Two - The Sinclair Rally (US Concert December 1971)
Attica State/Luck Of The Irish/Sisters O Sisters/John Sinclair. Another rally from a busy month held especially to free John Sinclair, a drug user locked up for ten years for having just two marijuana spliffs with him (the same charge would have got him a minor fine just a few miles away across the border!) The event was a big occasion with lots of other New York Performers, most of whom appear on the Lennon's 'Sometime In New York City' album. The rally was a big success, with Sinclair freed within 24 hours of the show - officially the rally was just a 'coincidence' but JohnandYoko always doubted that. Fragments of audio from this show (specifically 'John Sinclair' and Lennon's speech about how 'apathy didn't work, so what? We start again!') appeared later on the 'Lennon Anthology'.. John introduces 'Attica State' by saying 'it was written on me birthday' which is a snippet of detail we've not heard elsewhere (the riot happened a full month before Lennon's birthday on September 9th though - and we know from the record how in touch JohnandYoko were with the news in this period). This is a very tentative performance, the audience are noisy and restless and the equipment is feedbacking a lot which makes these acoustic performances a bit of a slog to be honest. A slowed down 'Sisters O Sisters' sounds particularly good, with John singing very audible harmony vocals alongside his wife. I'm intrigued where this show comes from - as far as I know it was never broadcast but seems to have filmed professionally, with lots of great Lennon close-ups you don't get at other Lennon rallies. Was this filmed for the pair's own archives? Again this would make a fine extra on a 'Sometime In New York City' DVD.
20) David Frost Show (UK TV December 1971)
John and Yoko's last appearance on a David Frost show was their last ever British TV appearance for some four years - and their last in the UK as a couple. The pair have in fact travelled back from New York especially to do it, bringing New York guest David Peel with them. The show opens with Peel's 'John Lennon, Yoko Ono' as played by his ten-piece band which must have cost a lot of air-fares! Unusually Yoko appears solo at first and gives Frost a new-improved 'box of smile' with a mirror stuck to the bottom this time. Yoko talks about her first art concept - that if every seed from round the world were planted together it would show togetherness and actually got her elder friend to write to the Japanese president about it but never got a reply (only Yoko would think this in her pre-school years!) Yoko thought while young that 'I'm going to change the world - but sadly nothing seemed to happen'. Yoko talks about what drives her, of having a 'secret' that only a few other people have and then discusses the pair's recent political work and how thrilled she was to see drug sentencee John Sinclair released partly after their intervention. After twenty minutes Lennon arrives to perform an acoustic version of 'Attica State' with Yoko and David Peel's band. It sounds rather good actually sung with more gusto than the version on 'Sometime In New York City'. Two hecklers interrupt with a line about 'glorifying prisoners' and Lennon invites them down to talk. 'I agree that Attica State was a tragedy but you're making it sound as if only prisoners matter and are now martyrs!' an angry woman adds 'you're saying that no one was responsible for this but if the prisoners hadn't striked it wouldn't have happened! What if they'd murdered your husband or wife or mother or father?' Her husband adds 'if they hadn't done anything wrong they wouldn't have been there!' Lennon gets on his high horse, saying that 'we're all responsible for societies so we're all responsible and we have to tell people what's going on in England - we're just reporters!' Frost butts in while things are getting heated and all but pleads with JohnandYoko to sing something else - though the equally controversial 'Luck Of The Irish' probably isn't what he had in mind! Lennon says that he appears at rallies because he cares and isn't in an ivory tower - the hecklers challenge him to walk through these towns at two in the morning and add that 'I'm in a prison because I'm afraid - you will not solve it with love and kisses! What about the guards?' 'I mourn the guards too - I don't want anybody to die!' says Lennon and then speaks about how so many of those locked up aren't really prisoners - that being in jail turns them into criminals. An angry Lennon then asks to sing another song and reprises 'Attica State' to the glares from their hecklers! Another fascinating clip which probably emphasised how out of touch the pair felt England to be with their political views.
21) Pop 2 (Swedish TV January 1972)
'Flower power didn't work? It's only the beginning of evolution and they're all apathetic because they're young! From America it will spread to the rest of the world! Le Vivre La Revolution!' I'd never even heard of this Swedish pop show before starting these books but here it is again with its seventh AAA appearance! Filmed during JohnandYoko's rather busy season in December 1971 and broadcast the following month it follows the pair rehearsing their 'unplugged' show with great home versions of 'Attica State' performed by just John and Yoko and a guitar (they should have done it like this on the record, even with Lennon 'forgetting' the last verse!) A wired John (whose either on drugs or having problems sleeping) talks about the pair's new single 'Happy Xmas' (though the single was released so late in the year most fans won't get hold of a copy till 1972) and how sick he is of 'hearing 'White Christmas' by Bing Crosby'. Interestingly Lennon also talks about a live album that never happened - what turned out to be side four of 'Sometime In New York City' with Frank Zappa was originally part of a charity live LP with The Who and Delaney and Bonnie. They also talk about John Sinclair ('all money will go to prisoners or poor people). Along the way clips are shown of the 'Imagine' video and the Toronto 'Give Peace A Chance' and 'Cold Turkey', which must have been a thrill back in the days before home video for fans who hadn't got to the cinema yet. Perhaps the most interesting point comes near the end where Lennon, like so many others before him, completely misunderstands The Rolling Stones' 'Street Fighting Man' (about why England is too 'sleepy' for revolution) and leers into the camera 'So you're a street fighting man, Mick? Come on and fight then - but not with me, I'm for peace!' Asked what musicians interest him Lennon says Elvis still does, surprisingly. He then talks about the change in styles from 'Plastic Ono Band' and 'Imagine' - this is the source of Lennon's famous quote about them being 'the same songs but with sugar on them' and adds that he was 'tired of my songs being banned!' As usual with 'Pop2' the local broadcaster translates noisily over the interview - he has great problems keeping up with an on-form gabbling Lennon! - which makes it a pain to hear, but thankfully keeps quite during the songs.
22) Mike Douglas Show (US TV February 1972)
'Everyone's an artist! Who tells you you aren't you know? Some teacher at school!' Meanwhile back in the States John and Yoko are co-hosting the Michael Douglas show and even introduce him to the stage. The host insists on singing 'Michelle', badly - Lennon tells him for singing a McCartney song but adds 'at least it's not Yesterday which is what they always sing - I did write the middle eight on that one!' Yoko is happier here than John - she appeared solo in 1971 to promote 'Fly' and 'gets' the more in-your-face American humour more - but Lennon still offers a few nuggets of wisdom and Douglas is a patient, genuinely interested host. Lennon says he's not worried about being asked the same questions over and over as 'not everyone hears it when you say it'. Yoko says that the current mood is 'pessimistic' but she thinks the future will be 'beautiful'. Lennon admits to being 'terrified' of Jerry Rubin and Frank Zappa when he met them both because of their 'image' and that people probably think the same about them. John goes on to say that 'rituals slow the world down', that theirs is a 'mind marriage - our minds met before our bodies' and how he loves his fans but is tired of waiters being so star-struck they don't listen to his order! JohnandYoko are first on but unusually stay for the chats with the other guests composer Joseph Harnell, actress Barbara Loden and the pair's old friend activist Jerry Rubin.
23) Dick Cavett Show #2 (US TV 'Woman Is The Nigger Of The World' May 1972)
JohnandYoko's return appearance isn't quite up there with their first - the immigration hassle is first most in their minds so they don't talk about much else - but it's still an interesting show that fills in much detail on this fascinating period. This time the pair are on second after actress Shirley Maclaine. Lennon jokes that a 'McCarthy' badge Maclaine is wearing (the running mate of Nixon) actually says 'McCartney'. Lennon talks about his love for malted milk drinks, that British milkshakes are 'lousy...plastic stuff' and is amazed to get a round of applause for 'not liking cheeseburgers anymore'. John talks about Kyoko's abduction, winning the court case to have custody (getting a one-day pass through immigration) and not knowing when it will be all over because they don't know where Yoko's daughter is (they were hiding at 'The Walk', a religious sect also known as The Living Word Fellowship', probably in California). The immigration office thought the dragging court case was an 'excuse' and while Yoko could stay Lennon had to go - leaving Yoko to choose between her husband and her daughter. :Lennon adds that he's now become 'one of those New York converts'. The pair then perform 'Woman Is The Nigger Of The World' with an uncomfortable warning from Cavett taped a week later 'as the only alternative to NBC cancelling the show'. Lennon adds 'some people were put off by it but they were usually white and male' and adds his black friends are 'behind' him. Lennon quotes Ron Delham, chairman of the Black Caucaus, 'If you define nigger as someone whose lifestyle is defined by others...then good news, you don't have to be black to be a nigger in society, most of Americans are niggers' ('Oh my goodness, we'll never get in now!' Lennon adds jokingly after finding out Delham is a democrat). The performance, backed by a stripped down Elephant's Memory, is a good one - one of only two occasions when Lennon played this and it's sung with more gusto than the version on 'Live In New York City', followed by a slightly less impressive 'We're All Water' that never quite hits the groove. Both Lennon Cavett interviews are available on the DVD 'John and Yoko: The Complete Shows'.
24) Jerry Lewis Telethon (US TV September 1972)
Comedian Jerry Lewis held charity telethons raising money for muscular dystrophy every year from 1966 until 2011. They're kind of the American equivalent of Britain's 'comic relief' and 'children in need' events, but for a more specific cause and less pleading or laughs. The range of special guests is if anything much higher, however, including a rather scruffy looking unshaven John and a more pristine Yoko performing three songs: 'Imagine' and a rather odd reggae version of 'Give Peace A Chance' (which sounds more like Hot Chocolate's cover, their debut release which came out on Apple in 1969: childish!) To be honest the performances are rather sloppy by the pair's standards (well, it is Elephant's Memory!) and Lennon gets rather angry at how little the audience are joining in. Much better is a rare live performance of 'Now Or Never' premiered ahead of Yoko's masterpiece 'Approximately Infinite Universe' and the only time she sang it with John (it's a very John song).
25) NBC's Today Show (US TV December 1974)
Another interesting interview, without any performances this time, but a tired and weary looking Lennon tires more easily and this rare interview from the 'Lost Weekend' period has it's moments. John talks about looking forward to going to see the last date of George's 'Dark Horse' tour ('See you Friday!') and refers to an abandoned documentary that 'will probably be called 'The Long and Winding Road' (actually George will object to the title and it will be re-named 'Anthology' in the 1990s). John sounds positive about a reunion and that only immigration hassles keep them apart. Lennon also jokes that all four Beatles are rising up the singles charts at the same time 'together but apart' and fits in a quick plug for 'Walls and Bridges'. Most unusually, Lennon is accompanied not by Yoko but by his lawyer Leon Wildes who tries to explain the Lennon's immigration case but is willing to admit that all this fuss about 'the most minor conviction you can have' and the fact that Sgt Pilcher later admitted the 1969 arrest was a fix makes the court case seem ridiculous! Lennon talks about the drug bust in more detail than normal, adding the detail that the policemen were coming in over the roof and banging on the window and that as everyone were in plain-clothes Lennon feared it was the mafia rather than the policeman. Lennon only pleaded guilty because he feared that Yoko would be deported and little realised the ramifications. Wildes is particularly damning on the English justice system as well he might be - no wonder Lennon left!
26) Old Grey Whistle Test (UK TV 'Slippin' and Slidin' 'Stand By Me' March 1975)
One of Lennon's best interviews, he's on terrific form when Bob Harris flies out all the way from sunny ol' England to interview him on the eve of the release of his 'Rock and Roll' album, greeting Harris like an old buddy and asking for the package he's asked for (Bath Oliver biscuits - what he says he misses most about his homeland!) Harris has said many times that this was his favourite moment from his decade long stint presenting OGWT (think today's Jools Holland programmes but with a presenter who actually likes music and musicians) and you can tell - Harris never looks emotional but this is close as he gets. As well as talking at length about the 'lost weekend' and his on/off relationship with Yoko, John talks about wanting to come to England soon and is the life and soul of the party after discovering the ongoing immigration case against him has been dropped. He even waves to Julian and tells his son he'll see him soon. However the highlight is not the talk for once but the music as Lennon performs live versions with his session band of the two best tracks from 'Rock and Roll' which suddenly have so much life about them without the awful gloss of the studio recordings. Lennon delivers 'Slippin' and Slidin' as if he's back to his teens, squealing out the words and adding a Buddy Holly hiccup, while he provides a real 'Lennon stare' down the camera for a passionate 'Stand By Me', clearly aimed for Yoko. A truly marvellous piece, you can see a shortened edit of the chat and the two songs on the 'OGWT' DVD 'Volumes One To Three' (volume one disc one to be exact) while various bits and pieces get recycled on BBC4 compilations every so often.
27) Grammy Awards 1975 (US TV March 1975)
'Which one of you is Ringo?' Against all the odds the Grammy awards saw John reunited with Paul! No not that Paul - Paul Simon. The pair are joined by Andy Williams to hand out an award with a corny routine: Andy sticks in a few barbs about his own recently missing partner Claudine Longlet to whom he's just got divorced ('it started out with 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' and ended up with 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'!) 'So this is what dawn looks like?' a Lost Weekend eras Lennon gags. Nominees for best records include Elton John, Roberta Flack (who gets a 'yay yay!' from Lennon), Joni Mitchell, Olivia Newton John and Maria Muldarve - Olivia wins leading John to 'quip 'jolly good!' Whose up to accept the award on Olivia's behalf? Art Garfunkel! Paul quips 'I thought I told you to get back in the car', Art quips 'still writing Paul?' and John gets his own back by asking them when they're getting back together! 'He's so serious!' adds Lennon after Art's rather earnest acceptance speech, 'He is isn't he?' is Paul's heartfelt reply! Mad!
28) A Salute To Lew Grade ('Slippin' and Slidin' 'Imagine' UK TV April 1975)
Little did Lennon realise it, but his last appearance in Britain and his only one after receiving the 'green card' that allowed him to travel (which, would you believe it, was actually blue) was at the bottom of a bill celebrating the life of a TV entrepreneur Lennon didn't even like that much. Grade had, after all, sued Lennon over a publishing dispute when he became a chief stockholder in John and Paul's 'Northern Songs' company and probably undertook the show partly in a failed gesture to get a better publishing deal and perhaps to publicise the 'Rock and Roll' album he just had out. It's a strange performance though - Lennon's one off band were a local London group named 'Brothers of Mother Fuckers', but they could hardly be called that on TV so they're re-branded 'BoMF' instead. What's less well known is why the band are all wearing masks at the back of their heads - is this Lennon's comment on being two-faced (but is it about him or Sir Lew?) Lennon also appearsd in a bright red onesie, which is quite the rave nowadays but would have turned plenty of heads back in 1975. A lively but slippery 'Slippin' and Slidin' passes by much like the record, but a near acoustic 'Imagine' - though with Lennon relinquishing the piano part to the band while he plays guitar - is a strong performance performed with more emotion than the 'One To One/Live In NYC' show, the only other known live performance of Lennon's signature song. And with that Lennon retires from British TV forever. You may recognise the compere introducing Lennon - Irish comedian Dave Allen (this clip would have been better yet had he wished Lennon 'goodbye and may your Gods go with you!')
29) WFIL TV (US TV c. April 1975)
Lennon was lured out of retirement only twice, very early after his 'official' leave of absence, to help out a couple of old friends. The Beatles had befriended Lartry Kane when he was working as a reporter for a radio station - the band liked his company more than most so they tended to ask for him direct on the band's American tours and Lennon had a particular soft spot for his quick humour. Lennon bumped into his old friend by chance in 1975 and discovered he was working as a news anchor on a Extracts of this TV appearance were including in the fascinating book 'Lennon Revealed' by DJ Larry Kane. The two friends swapped notes and Lennon was invited down 'anytime' - he came without much warning and took over the station, unannounced, for a couple of hours - sadly with such little warning that few copies exist (and those that do are incomplete!) Safe in the knowledge that only a few local Amerixans are watching in the middle of the night, Lennon is back to his clowning best and when he finds the weather man's off sick Lennon asks to do it, delivering a unique weather reporyt that reads like something from 'In His Own Write' (Together the weather will be muggy, followed by tuggy, wuggy and thuggy'). It's a great bit of footage, with a few extracts included in a DVD included with Kane's book 'Lennon Revealed/Ticket To Ride' (depending which edition you own!)
30) The Tomorrow Show (1975)
'We broke up out of boredom and boredom creates tension'. The other into-retirement programme was Tom Snyder's programme in which Lennon speaks for a full forty minutes - his longest televised interview since 1971. Sadly Snyder is rather more rambling than Frost or Cavett are and the questions are so long-winded a disinterested Lennon struggles to find anything more to say. He's interesting when talking about why everyone hated rock music (at the beginning it was 'black' and 'they couldn't hear it', 'but the Beatles made it more white'). Snyder asks if it's hard when fans are so open about having their favourites - 'Paul for instance had quite a few followers' leading John to wink at the camera and go 'oh, yeah?' and talks about how Paul was always the most popular with girls even back in the Cavern days. Snyder talks about an interview he made with David Crosby talking about 'songs about social change' but Lennon seems disinterested despite saying 'I watch the show all the time' and drifting off to compare Brooklyn accents with Liverpudlian. Lennon then ends his last televised interview by talking about his immigration hassles all over again. The best line: 'We were the first working class band who stayed working class even after we made it'.
31) (Just Like) Startin' Over (Music Video 1980)
The last video finished in Lennon's lifetime, 'Startin' Over' is effectively a ';catch up' of what JohnandYoko(andSean!) have been up to since we last met. The missing five years appear via stills of mainly holiday photos before we cut to John and Yoko walking through Central Park towards us. We also see Yoko in a fetching silk kimono kissing a t-shirted Lennon in bed and some ever so brief shots of Lennon in the studio. Ominously the video ends with an unsmiling Yoko staring out at us from their Dakota window - the same window where Yoko will picture Lennon's blood-stained glasses and the glass of water he'd left behind hours earlier which became the cover of her 1981 album 'Season Of Glass'
32) Woman (Music Video 1980)
Technically speaking, Lennon never lived to see the final rushes of 'Woman' but we've included it here because Yoko says that she and John had spoken about a second single from 'Double Fantasy' and had an 'idea' mapped out for it. Alas Lennon didn't live long enough to shoot his entire plan of exploring Central Park with Yoko, but as so much extra footage of the pair walking had been shot for 'Startin' Over' Yoko returned to the old film, adding a in a few shots of her sitting alone and cold in the winter snow as he sits on a bench, smoking, waiting for a Lennon who comes to her thanks to the wonders of editing. A few old photos and film footage are used here - the first time that a Lennon video had become nostalgic - just to bring an added tear to the eye and a lump to the throat. The video ends with the moving caption 'to be continued' as John and Yoko walk off into the sunlight as John sings of loving Yoko 'for now and forever'.
33) Beautiful Boy (Music Video 1980)
Lennon may or may not have intended this as his third single and may or may not have shot this video to go with it - but as 'Beautiful Boy' is taken almost entirely from home movie footage of John playing with Sean he would at least have known of it. For once the camera is parked at a distance as the Lennons holiday with friends in Bermuda. Sean runs to the beach and back again showing his parents things as they wave to him in the distance and we see Yoko the most motherly she's ever been, rolling over in the grass with her son and giving him a piggy-back. A pony-tailed Lennon then upstages them all by dancing on a thin narrow ledge in front of the camera before sitting back down again and then the figures disappear over the fade, turning into ghosts of times that were. It's a fitting end to the Lennon lifetime film collection though future videos for 'Borrowed Time' 'Nobody Told Me' and 'I'm Steppin' Out' will keep the Lennon flame burning a while longer and whole documentaries will be made across the next three decades.
And that's that for now - join us next week for more Lennonisms with an even longer article on the best Lennon unreleased recordings. See you then!