I would have to say that John Lennon, without question–I mean there’s been so many wonderful things that has happened to me on stage, but him coming out on Thanksgiving 1975 at Madison Square Gardens, when he hadn’t appeared in New York since Shea Stadium with The Beatles, he had only appeared on stage at a peace concert in Toronto. He was so nervous. He threw up…we were doing three songs together. He came out to probably the most touching ovation I’ve ever heard for anyone. We all shed a tear on stage–a, because we were playing with John, but b, because the love from the audience–he was an adopted New Yorker, and he was there and they just loved him. So did we, but they loved him. So I would have to say that’s one thing–I’m getting tingles as I talk about it now. I’ll never forget that.
Elton John, talking about John Lennon’s last performance on stage after he won the bet with John that Whatever Gets You Through The Night would make it to number one.
Q: You didn’t really add that J in your name, did you?
A: Brian called me one day and I went into the office and John was there. He said, “John has a suggestion.” I was just about to release “Do You Want To Know A Secret”, which was number one in England. John said, “Why don’t you call yourself Billy J?” I said, “It’s a cool idea.” He said, “I think people will catch on to it quicker then Billy Kramer.” I said, “Thank you so much.” I thought it was a great idea.
Q: It’s certainly catchy and adding the J made a difference.
A: It made a hell of a difference.
Q: Did anyone ever ask you what the J stands for?
A : At the time I said, “What if anybody asks me what does it stand for” and John said, “Julian.” I said, “I don’t really like that name.” I didn’t know that John was married at the time with a son. But that’s what I said. (Laughs).
In my perennial search for interesting Beatle material, I came upon an interesting find, with a bit of a mystery attached.
Apparently a fellow by the name of Mike Tree (or Mike Medeirose/a, according to his Dakota ID) was writing a book called John Lennon: Barefoot in Utopia, which he claims was going to “dispel all the misinformation about John during his reclusive years.” He claimed he was a personal friend of John, going to Bermuda with him and Sean, and was at the Dakota to answer phones following John’s death.
Here’s where it gets interesting: he’s disappeared, as has the website promoting his book. His last post on his facebook page simply says “THIS PAGE IS NO LONGER ACTIVE. THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST. As far as I can tell, his book has never been published.
His brief stint on facebook includes photos taken by Fred Seaman of John when they were in Bermuda, and other interesting photos and anectdotes about life with the Lennons during that last summer of 1980.
Tree also posted an interesting tidbit about the iconic New York City photo of John taken by Bob Gruen. Tree claims that May Pang took the original photo but John wanted it redone by Gruen. A reader corrected this version, stating that Capital needed a 35 mm shot and Gruen had the proper camera.
Q: But your relationship with John, in every way, as a Beatle..as a band, you were very very close. I mean, that must have been very painful in that respect, not only the Beatles breaking up, but I mean that particular relationship breaking up.
A: Mm. It was, yeah. Um, in our songwriting, I had signs that the group was gonna break up, because… I mean, I think really what it was, really all that happened was that John fell in love. With Yoko. And so, with such a powerful alliance like that, it was difficult for him to still be seeing me. It was as if I was another girlfriend, almost. Our relationship was a strong relationship. And if he was to start a new relationship, he had to put this other one away. And I understood that. I mean, I couldn’t stand in the way of someone who’d fallen in love. You can’t say, “Who’s this?” You can’t really do that. If I was a girl, maybe I could go out and… But you know I mean in this case I just sort of said, right – I mean, I didn’t say anything, but I could see that was the way it was going to go, and that Yoko would be very sort of powerful for him. So um, we all had to get out the way. I don’t blame her. You know, you can’t blame her for being the object of his love.
Paul, discussing his break up with John on German television, translation courtesy of Amoralto.