John Lennon

ARTICLE ABOUT John Lennon (The Beatles) FROM New Musical Express, December 13, 1969

Yes, I know it wasn`t long ago since my last reprint of a Lennon interview, but this one was unavoidable. They absolutely were on the brink of splitting and they did make some very good albums solo after the Beatles. In a lot of ways that was a good thing as we got to have more great albums to listen to, but you always ask; “What if…?”
Read on!


Beatles are on the brink of splitting

One group is just not big enough for all this talent

By Alan Smith

I MAY be wrong, and I hope I am, but these are dark days for the Beatles. I begin to wonder how much longer their association can stand the strain of their own individual talent.
JOHN LENNON pulls toward Peace and his Plastic Ono Band; RINGO Pulls toward a bigger and better film career; GEORGE HARRISON jumps toward his own prolific songwriting; and PAUL McCARTNEY pulls himself away to Scotland, his own songs . . . and silence.
Certainly, John and Paul are on opposite sides of a heavy wall of difference and self-inflicted gloom. And the bond between them can hardly have been more weak, or their opposing interests more strong.
A few days ago John and Yoko and I talked in a one-hour fifteen minute exclusive interview for NME (partly filmed for BBC-1’s look at the world of John and Yoko Lennon in ” 24 Hours”), and during that time he gave me frank answers to this mental rift with Paul and the present state of the Beatles.
He was pleasant, together, straightforward, mellow and resolute, and only in references to Paul did his voice drop in doubt.
He told me: “Paul and I both have differences of opinion on how things should be run. But instead of it being a private argument about how an LP should be done, or a certain track, it’s now a larger argument about the organisation of Apple itself.
“Whether we both want the same thing from Apple in the end is a matter of opinion. But how to achieve it — that’s where we digress.
“Mainly, we disagree on the Klein bit. But you know, I don’t really want to discuss Paul without him here. It’s just that as far as I can see, Paul was always waiting for This Guy to just appear and come and save us from the mess we were in.

Pull out

“And we were in a mess, and only my saying it to the Press that time enabled Klein to hear about it and come over.
“I’m a quarter of this building, and it became a question of whether I should pull my money out if I could — which I probably can’t.
“I did say I wanted out at one time. It was just that all my income was going in to Apple and being wasted by the joy-riding people who were here. In fact, that was just the minute bit of it. I just wanted it to stop.
“It’s no use pretending we can be here all the time when that kind of thing is going on. We needed a business man. No Beatle can spend his days here checking the accounts.
“There was also the question of the four of us holding different opinions on different things, and the staff not knowing where they where or who to listen to.
“I know that’s what’s going on all the time. People come to me and say `Paul wants this done, what do you think?, `and they know damn well what I think and they say `alright,’ and then they go to Paul and say John wants this done, he’s off again.



“The result is that we kept sending in different instructions and nothing was being done. Like people anywhere, they were getting away with what they could. We were naive and stupid.
“What I want is for the freeloading to stop, but the old Apple spirit to remain. The spirit will be there, because if Apple is not a problem to the Beatles — which it was — it just can’t help but get better.
“Our job is to put the creative side into Apple. If the Beatles never recorded together again, but each put their creative efforts through Apple… that at least would be better than me having a company, Paul having a company, George having a company, and Ringo having a company. “Together we at least have that much more power.
“I know now that the original concept of helping everybody doesn’t work in its purest form. All you get are the bums and freeloaders everybody else turns down.
“The only way we can help other artists at Apple is the same way the Beatles helped other artists … by breaking new barriers. That’s what we didn’t get before. We sat back, and we started to believe our own publicity, to tell ourselves how the Beatles helped people get long hair, and the Beatles started off this, and the other.
“The Beatles split up? It just depends how much we all want to record together. I don’t know if I want to record together again. I go off and on it. I really do.
“The problem is that in the old days, when we needed an album Paul and I got together and produced enough songs for it.

“Nowadays, there’s three of us writing prolifically and trying to fit it all onto one album. Or we have to think of a double album every time, which takes six months.
“That’s the hang-up we have. It’s not a personal ‘The Beatles are fighting’ thing, so much as an actual, physical problem.
“What do you do? I don’t want to spend six months making an album I have two tracks on! And neither do Paul or George, probably. That’s the problem. If we can overcome that, maybe it’ll sort itself out.
“None of us want to be background musicians most of the time. It’s a waste. We didn’t spend ten years making it to have the freedom of recording studios, to be able to have two tracks on an album.
“It’s not like we spend our time wrestling in the studio trying to get our own songs on. We all do it the same way . . . we take it in turns to record a track. It’s just that usually in the past, George lost out. Because Paul and I are tougher.
“It’s nothing new, the way things are. It’s human. We’ve always said we’ve had fights It’s no news that we argue. I’m more interested in my songs. Paul’s more interested in his, and George is more interested in his. That’s always been.
“This is why I’ve started with the Plastic Ono and working with Yoko . . . to have more outlet. There isn’t enough outlet for me in the Beatles. The Ono Band is my escape valve. And how important that gets, as compared to the Beatles for me, I’ll have to wait and see.
“You have to realise that there’s a peculiar situation in that if ‘Cold Turkey’ had had the name ‘Beatles’ on it, probably it would have been a No. 1.

“Abbey Road”

“‘Cold Turkey’ has got Ringo and me on, and yet on half the Beatles’ tracks of ‘Abbey Road,’ I’m not on, or half the tracks on the double album — and even way back. Sometimes there might be only two Beatles on a track.
“It’s got to the situation where if we have the name `Beatle’ on it, it sells. So you get to think: ‘What are we selling? Do they buy it because it’s worth it, or just because it says ‘Beatles?’
“George is in the same position. I mean, he’s got songs he’s been trying to get on since 1920. He’s got to make an album of his own. And maybe if he puts ‘Beatles’ on the label rather than George Harrison, it might sell more. That’s the drag.
“Of course we could each make an album and call it ‘The Beatles.’ But that would be cheating. And that’s not my scene.
“Anyway, folks, remember the Plastic Ono Band LP from Toronto released December the 12th, with a nice picture of the sky, and a fab calendar inside of a year’s events with John and Yoko, with poetry and fun.”




ARTICLE ABOUT John Lennon and Yoko Ono FROM Record Mirror, April 29, 1972

This is the first of a two-part interview with John and Yoko. For the sake of history and for the pure fact that Lennon was an important member of one of history`s biggest and best bands this needs to be out there. I wonder what causes Lennon would have been engaged in if he were alive today? One thing is for certain – he would have strong opinions regarding political subjects and he wouldn`t be afraid to express them.


`Capitalism killed the Beatles`

Jean-Francois Vallee talks to John and Yoko

John and Yoko, what is happening with you?

JOHN: Recently I have been doing a lot of Jam sessions without rehearsals. It’s been good. We have been appearing on the stage suddenly in the middle of a concert just to play with other musicians — e.g. at Fillmore East and Toronto, and then we disappear. But now I do not want to do this anymore. We are forming a new Group with Phil Spector on organ and Yoko and me. The band will be expandible according to the number of musicians who want to play with us. I do not want too big a nucleus, 10 musicians at the most. Local bands will be able to play with us if they want, either with the Plastic Ono band or on their own. The Plastic One band will be the one constant element on the tour. In each town we will ask musicians and theatre groups to appear on stage with us. We want people to participate and not just to stand there open-mouthed as if they were looking at God on the stage.

YOKO: If you throw a stone in the water, the important thing is not the stone, but the waves it creates.

Q: Yoko, what do you think of John’s songs?

YOKO: What I admire in John’s songs is that they are so simple that people can sing them and make their own songs out of them. They are as simple as a heart beat: bang, bang, bang. It does not come from the head, but from the heart.

Q: The ‘Imagine’ LP seemed to be divided into questions and answers with Yoko?

JOHN : Yes, I never really thought of that but it is true in a sense. There is only one thing that I can see as a response, and that is love. This is what I was saying when I wrote `All you need is love’.


Q: ‘Imagine’ gave the idea of somebody fighting a difficult battle.

JOHN: Everybody is fighting. Three years ago I would have been looking for a Guru or looking for the answer in Karl Marx, but not any more. I was looking for a father figure but I do not want that any more, thanks to Dr. Janov. That’s not the same thing. He gave me a kind of structure and I do not need him any more. He helped me to accept myself. He is like Freud really and he says, if people had understood Freud they would have attempted to relive the initial crisis instead of intellectualising in order to disperse their problems.

Q: Isn’t the essential message of ‘Imagine’: “Do not be enslaved by myths?”

JOHN: Yes.

Q: But politics is made up of myths. You would like to meet Mao. Is not he a myth?

JOHN: I would like to go to China just out of personal interest. Wouldn’t you?

Q: Yes.

JOHN: Well I shall go to China. I will take the opportunity to try to see Mao. If he is ill or dead or if he refuses to see me, too bad. But if I go there I want to meet people who are doing something important. It could just as easily be a youth leader. I am only saying Mao because may be that will help me to get to China.

YOKO: It is very important to go to China now, not only out of curiosity but because the world ought to go on getting smaller, and exchanges ought to be more and more open and be carried out more and more rapidly. China should not be isolated in a mystery. The mystery should be exposed and destroyed, and that will happen if we go there and they come here.

Q: The important thing is to communicate?


Q: Do you not expect to find the answer in China?

JOHN: No, oh God no . . . I want to take a rock band to China. That is really what I want to do. To play rock in China. They have yet to see that.

YOKO: And we shall go there not only with musicians but with people like Jerry Rubin. As I have said, the message is music itself and Jerry has his own music and he wants to play.

Q: What is your political position at the moment?

YOKO: Same as yours.

Q: But it seems you are more involved than . . .

JOHN: . . . Than during the time of the Beatles?

Q: Yes.


JOHN: The Beatles — that was something so enormous you just had to be a Beatle and nothing else. Being a Beatle took all your life and that was the problem. What I mean is that the Beatle thing became so big that it got to be a monster. It was not a monster at the beginning. The group communicated with people. They were the good times; we played in clubs and ballrooms and we spoke to people. It was really great. But then it became a kind of machine; it is like a guy who makes millions, like Rockefeller, or Getty, they become totally obsessed by money. How to look after their millions and how to make more. That is how the Beatles became. Think about the Beatles, for the Beatles and by the Beatles, and that is what I could not come to accept. There just was not any time to think of anything else. So the Beatles was just a period in my life. You know I have still got a long way to go. I lived 14 years of my life before the Beatles happened, and during 10 of those years I knew nothing about world politics. Nevertheless, if I did not have a political conscience, Marx and all that, I was aware of my own position in the working class in Liverpool and of being about to try to get into University and all the stupidities that go with it. So the Beatles were not so important. And now the Beatles are dead.

Q: If we were to make an inquest what would we discover was the cause of their death?

JOHN: Capitalism.

YOKO: It is dangerous when something becomes a myth; because they are all the same, they are all equal you see. When you asked us just now what our political position was, I said that it was the same as yours. We all have responsibilities in this Society because it is we who create that Society and everything that happens illustrates something in ourselves so we try to do everything we can by ourselves.

Q: I wanted to speak of the Beatles because that was really something for us, for my generation, something exceptional . . .

JOHN: Oh, for us as well.

YOKO: The Beatles was a social fact and also political in a sense.

JOHN: The Beatles had a social influence, a social impact. Then it became sterile, like a Government, that has stayed too long in power. When that situation arises you have to abdicate. So we abdicated . . . and now there are Santana, Marc Bolan, T Rex and all the new musicians. It is for them to carry on.

Q: Do you use your music as a means of promoting your politics?

JOHN: I am first of all a musician with lot of other interests on the side. You know, I believe that the situation that my political conscience puts me in is somewhere between “All you need is love” with the Beatles and “Power to the people” by the Plastic-Ono Band. In fact, what this really means is that I still believe in “All you need is love,” but I think also that now it is necessary to have something else as an additional aid.

Q: What do you think of the latest Dylan song, ‘George Jackson’?

JOHN: Hurrah . . . (He sings ‘George Jackson’) . I think it is fantastic.


Q: Do you think that he has suddenly taken a new political position?

JOHN: He has always been aware. People say Dylan has abandoned the Movement but Dylan was there before the Movement.

YOKO: That’s true.

JOHN: You see, Dylan exists with or without the Movement. We owe him a great deal of things. You cannot demolish the Beatles or Dylan because they have had a big effect and impact. It does not matter that Dylan has done nothing for six months or that he chooses to rest for a year, or that he is going through a psychological crisis, or that he has had an accident, or that he wants to live with four children and his family. Dylan has done what he has done and he continues. We ought to let him have a little time to breathe. He wrote ‘George Jackson’ despite attacks from everybody and not because of the attacks from everybody.

Q: Do you see Weberman as a creation of his nightmares, just as Manson is a little bit of a nightmare creature of the Beatles fantasy?

JOHN: In a sense, yes, yes . . Although Weberman has qualities. It is just that he has gone too far.

YOKO: There is always this duality. The ying and the yang. For example, a great machine like the Beatles — they were to create some beautiful things and at the same time some terrible things, and those terrible things happen, then people give them too much importance.

Q: You have decided to live in New York. You have lots of money and you can choose a place much more welcoming. Why New York?

JOHN: Yoko lived here for 15 years. Then she returned to Japan, and then she went to London, and from London she brought me back to New York. New York remains the centre of the universe for me, the centre of the world. Yes, it is possible that America is going in the wrong direction. Like Rome, she will destroy herself and fall in ruins, and yet, I would rather be in the centre than in provincial places, in Britain, or Wales, or England.


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ARTICLE ABOUT John Lennon FROM SOUNDS, November 17, 1973

A good one where the interview subject gets to dominate the text. I like these articles a lot. And one can only speculate if Lennon`s fate would have been completely different if he didn`t like the USA and New York so much.


Exile on Sunset Strip

Steve Peacock talks to John Lennon in Los Angeles

A mind game for you: “We announce the birth of a conceptual country, Nutopia… Nutopia has no land, no boundaries, no passports, only people.” – Yoko Ono Lennon, John Ono Lennon, New York, April 1, 1973.
“It is about – once you say it that`s it.” – John Lennon, Los Angeles, November 3, 1973.

Nutopia is the Lennons` statement on John`s immigration hassles – attempts to throw him out of the States, backed up by the knowledge that if he leaves the country at the moment, he won`t get back in.
No passports, no land, no boundaries… America? “Oh yeah, but that`s physical. That won`t go on for ever – que sera, sera. The world changes so fast you can`t keep up with it anyway, so I`m sure a little piddly thing like my immigration won`t go on for ever.
“It`s like Leonardo drawing a submarine, it`s no good saying `oh look, it`s going to take a thousand years before they build it`: that`s not the point. Nutopia was Yoko`s trip, I agree with her, so I wanted to put it on (the album sleeve) and do it as just another event, another J&Y event. We mean it, it`s not naive or anything like that, it`ll happen when it happens. If you say it enough it`ll happen – if you don`t say it it won`t.”


The exile is in Los Angeles. He went there to put some finishing touches to “Mind Games”, which is now out in America: he did a track on Ringo`s album, and he`s currently engaged in realising a fantasy – a mouldy oldies album, produced by Phil Spector. “Who do you get if you`re going to do a mouldy oldies album – Phil Spector or Sam Phillips, right? I don`t know Sam.”
Spector has been doing it in style: five electric guitarists, five rhythm guitarists, two drummers, two bass players… a veritable cast of thousands, which “changes every night as people drop out or just can`t stand the pace.” Among the cast are Leon, Steve Cropper, Jesse Ed Davies, Jim Keltner, Nino Tempo, Jim Horn, Hal Blaine: “Everybody in the goddam world, it`s the biggest band you`ve ever seen. I can hardly fight my way into the studio.”
An innocent enquiry as to Mr. Spector`s health elicits the answer that tells what it`s like: “He`s making the music sound great, which is what matters, but what kind of shape he`s in I wouldn`t like to say. He`s in his usual whatever that strange world is that he lives in, and I happen to be living in it with him. It`s really insane, there`s people running around saying `who can I tell it to, who can I tell it to… nobody`d ever believe me`.
“Los Angeles is crazy – it looks so normal when you get there, but what it is is there`s all these roomfuls of crazy people moving from room to room. In New York you feel it on the streets a bit, but here it just looks normal and you think there`s nothing happening, and then you find all this madness going on in rooms.”



The songs on the album are secrets at the moment – “someone else might do `em” – but they`re American oldies. “I only go for the best.” And yes, he knows Bowie and Bryan have just done mouldies albums: “I always leave it too late, but ours`ll be different. What happened was between tracks on every album I`ve done, I always do oldies, just play around between tracks, but I always forget the words. I must have thousands and thousands of feet of tape of me forgetting the words…”
The album will be his next release, once “Mind Games” has had its run. He finds he has little to say about that one, except that as usual he wouldn`t have released it if he didn`t like it, and he`s still too close to it to think about it objectively. It took eight weeks to record, which is long for him, and he used the same band as Yoko had for “Feeling The Space”.
OK – so we`ll listen to “Mind Games”, not talk about it. We talked about America, about living there, working there, playing games with the Government: he`s been pretty quiet recently, deliberately not giving his enemies any ammunition, and when I asked if he was planning to play live at all, he said he wasn`t making plans.
“Last time I planned it, the Government attacked me, so I`ll do it on impulse if I do it.” The Government what? “Oh, they just psyched me out – following me, tapping the `phone… I`m paranoid enough without all that.”
So was he still getting the same buzz out of living in the States – it`s been three years now? “Yeah – this is where the music is for me. I think the farthest out I`d want to go is to have a place in Massachusetts or New England or somewhere, somewhere to escape to now and then. New York is where I live – I just don`t think about it any more, I just don`t think of any alternative. It`s like coming to London from Liverpool.”
Though in view of Nutopia, did it actually matter where he was? “I think it`d only matter if I couldn`t be here when I wanted to because… I mean I don`t think I could get it on in, say, Paris – which I love – or even London. You only have to look out of your window… there`s just a vibe in the air that I like. I`d have liked to have lived in Rome in the days of the Roman Empire, not on the outskirts of the empire somewhere, and now I wanna live in New York: it`s definitely the capital of the world, and I wanna be where that is.”
Had he felt rather cocooned in England? “No – I didn`t even plan to leave. When I came to New York I wasn`t planning to live here, I was just visiting, maybe stay a few months… it just sort of happened. I`d probably be back in England a lot more if it didn`t mean that I couldn`t get back here – I`d probably be coming and going a lot more.


“Because I know it`s happening in England – I hear the music coming out of there and I hear the news, or read it, so I know England has plenty of things going on, it`s just… well, I know the English don`t like to hear it, but it is the 59th state.
“But we speak the same language and have the same culture – Heinz beans and ketchup and Doris Day and Elvis… what the hell, it`s one of the islands, just a bit farther away.
“And I like the multi-racial thing over here, it`s like living in Europe with Britain really in the Common Market, like Europe might be in 20 years or something, people coming and going all the time, crossing borders… it`s all Europeans here, and Africans, of course, but it`s really like Europe, only with the main language being English.”
No land, no boundaries, no passports, only people. Anyway, what`s next for John Lennon? “You know me, I don`t have plans. Maybe I`ll take this album on the road – if we ever finish it – maybe I`ll just rest and write some songs. There`s business things going on as usual…
“Hey, when`s Dylan going on the road? Maybe I`ll go along and play rhythm.”


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Nils Lofgren, Paul Kossoff, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Lane, Alice Cooper, Carlos Santana, Average White Band, Dale ‘Buffin’ Griffin, Magna Carta.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to:
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3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


John Lennon! What a guy! What can you say about this guy that hasn`t been said before? Well, I won`t even go there. I will just say that he is one of those musical geniuses that have been an important part of my life. Without him and a few others, my life would have been completely different in the way that it would have had a completely different soundtrack. As part of The Beatles and as a solo artist he made a deep impact in my and so many others lives. We still sing his songs and will continue to sing his songs for many generations to come – maybe for all time? Thank you, John!



By Lisa Robinson

Three years ago, John Ono Lennon, US resident and then-political animal, discovered that, so far the United States Government was concerned, he was persona most definitely non grata. Nixon`s Attorney General John Mitchell is said to have ordered a campaign of harassment backed up with legal proceedings designed to convince Lennon (and any others who cared to be watching) that the Land of the Free was a land limited to those who approved of Nixon`s policies – so far as foreigners went.
The official reason? That Lennon`s British drug conviction disbarred him from US residency. The actual reason? That Lennon`s political activities made him a pain in the Nixon ass.
Since then, George Harrison (also with a British drug conviction), has visited the US freely – and even went to dinner at the White House a month ago.
Lennon`s deportation order still stands. Last week, Mitchell was sentenced to two-and-a-half years` porridge for criminal activities committed while a member of the Nixon Administration. Last year, one of the police officers on whose evidence JL was originally convicted was himself sentenced for perjury (in a different drugs case). And we all know what happened to Nixon.
Lennon`s conviction still stands. Here he talks to NME in New York concerning his long fight to be treated as a normal human being by the United States Government – and of his plans for the future in case reason should not, finally, prevail.

NME: What`s the situation at present with your deportation case?
JOHN: Well, It’s hellish really, I don’t know where to start. It’s going on the same as before. In general it’s the same, for me it`s the same – they’ve taken the stance that I have to leave. They always say 30 days, but that passed months ago. They say that once a year.
It’s so complicated; It started out because I had a British conviction for possessing marijuana – which was planted by a police sergeant, which everybody in Britain knows now because the guy’s in jail – not for my case though, for somebody else’s case.
Yoko and I weren`t married then…it was a bit weird in England…I won`t even go into the whole story how we were busted -we were busted by about 20 people, there were dogs…it`s a whole film.
They busted us in the morning and they wouldn’t let us get dressed. It took them hours. There was a question in Parliament as to why so many people were needed to arrest two people. Actually in the end there was no case against Yoko.

NME: No one ever advised you to fight the thing?
JOHN: No, I was just panic stricken… I was a wreck. Aaahh! Cops! In jolly England! You know I still half believed about the good old bobby helping you down the street. And I was really nervous about Yoko, ’cause we’d just got living together, and it was all in public. I thought they’d deport her. So I copped a plea, thinking it was just a misdemeanour.
I figured, `What the hell, it’s just a hundred pounds…it’s just crazy,` and it’s been going on since 1971. The first conviction came down in 1973 when they said I had to leave the U.S. I couldn’t be a permanent resident of the United States with a British conviction.
Now all the people involved are gone; the prosecution councel and head of immigration. And we’ve just received permission to interview them, to question them about papers.
I`ve found out that Senator Strom Thurmond sent a letter to John Mitchell when he was Attorney General; Thurmond was the head of a congressional committee. Whether we’ll get our hands on that letter I don’t know, but in essence it said, `This guy’s looking to stay here and we suggest no`.
Our lawyers always said that the instructions for my case were coming from Washington, and the New York people kept insisting it was a local case. But we knew it wasn’t just a local case, and this letter from Thurmond could prove it. Just like we knew we were being wiretapped. But how do you prove that?
We knew we were being wiretapped on Bank Street. There were a helluva lot of guys coming in to fix the phones…and there were two guys outside who kept following me around in a car. I went on the Dick Cavett show and said it – this was long before Watergate – and people just thought, ‘Oh, crazy Lennon, who is gonna bother following him? What an egomaniac’… But we had been associated with Jerry Rubin and John Sinclair and little rallies, and were seen around those people… It really was like a mini-Watergate.
You know, incidentally, there was a CBS documentary I saw last week about Nazis in America – known Nazis who are here, famous Nazis who killed from 15,000 people upwards. And the guy who was prosecuting me got taken off my case and put onto this Nazi thing. On TV he said that someone in his office, in the immigration department, had stolen his file on Nazis -from the safe in his office.
That means someone in his own group is protecting these people. They’re so busy protecting them, but they’re attacking me.

NME: Why then, do you want to live here?
JOHN: Because it’s the same everywhere. Name somewhere where it’s different. It’s not as if it’s a choice between living here or in England where it’s different. It’s the same in England on a different level, and the Americans and the English are hand in glove.

NME: How frustrating is all of this to you emotionally?
JOHN: At one time it was getting to be a bug because I had to keep going to court, and court cases got to be a way of life. It was hassling me because that was when I was hanging out with Elephant’s Memory and I wanted to rock, to go out on the road. But I couldn’t do that because I always had to be in New York for something…and I was hassled.
I guess it showed in me work. Whatever happens to you happens in your work. So while on the surface I tried to make it appear as if I were making a game out of it, trying not to take it seriously, there were periods of real paranoia. Even my friends would say, ‘Come on John… what do they want with you?’
And you know, I see now that Jane Fonda is suing the governemnt for millions. When I first heard that I thought, ‘Ah-ha!’ and then ‘Uh-oh’…like if they left me alone would they be afraid I’d make a fuss and start suing afterwards? I guess it’s probably going to have to be the President who decides, a pure political decision when my paper comes up – as it does every now and then – into his consciousness.

NME: Is the President aware of all of this?
JOHN: Oh, you bet. I had a friend who visited there, right? I mean you can’t have one junkie in the White House and kick another out, can you? That’s being flippant of course, neither George nor I are junkies…
Anyway, they keep falling back on that law about misdemeanours, and it’s some trip to change the law here. Even though in England that law has been reversed…

NME: But they could get around it…
JOHN: Of course they can, because they’ve got around it for Nazis, for big dope dealers, big heroin-heavy stuff dealers. My lawyer has a list of people – hundreds of people in here who got around the law for murder, rape, double murder, heroin, every crime you can imagine.
I want to end it, but I can go on as long as they go on. It’ll probably go on until it gets to the Supreme Court.

NME: How much of your time is spent on this?
JOHN: Well, when I’m not talking about it, I think about it occasionally. I mean it’s on my list of lawsuits. I was just talking about it with Yoko last night; there seem to be an awful lot of lawsuits involved with rock and roll.

NME: There’s Allen Klein, right?
JOHN: Yes, that’s about 20. He’s suing me and Yoko and all the ex-Beatles and everybody that ever knew them… And he’s suing me individually, me collectively, any version of me you can get hold of is being sued.
But immigration is the important one. The others are all just money. I mean, if they can take Helen Reddy, they can take me…

NME: Would you want to become a U.S. citizen?
JOHN: I’m too involved with this to think about citizenship. I’d prefer to do a P. G. Wodehouse; I found out before he was knighted that he was living here, and I thought well, that’s cool. Nobody thinks P. G. Wodehouse is not English – he was English until his last breath and he lived on Long Island.
And that suits me fine. I’m English but I want to live here. And the funny thing about America is that there’s almost no such thing as an American. You go on the streets and everybody’s Italian or Irish or Israeli or English or Jamaican or Nigerian… and if you go out into the sticks you’ve got the German group or the Dutch group and the names tell you which race dominates.
It’s just a pack of Europeans living here with Africans, Indians, and Asians thrown in. Thousands of Chinese, Japanese… it’s like the old gag about the melting pot.
I always liked Liverpool and London – places like that that had a lot of different races living in them. You could go to Soho and see all kinds of races on earth and I like that, but there’s even more of a mixture here. My ideal is to be able to travel, that’s the thing I really miss most.
I miss England, Scotland, Wales, all that sentimental stuff, but I also miss France, Holland… Germany I haven’t been to those places for years. I’d like to go to South America, I’ve never been… I’d like to be based here, and just travel.

NME: Do you ever think you’ll be so overcome with all the legal hassles that you’ll get like Lenny Bruce and become obsessed with learning the law?
JOHN: No. I got obsessed with the politics for a while…but law is, well, I could never take it that seriously. At a certain point I would just see the funny side and say screw it. The worst that happens with most of these lawsuits is that they’ll take more money off of me, and the worst that would happen with immigration is that I’d have to move.

NME: Where would you move? I’ve heard rumours of Canada…?
JOHN: No…they always say that because whenever I go to Canada the Canadians ask me if I like Canada. So I say yes, I like Canada, I like Montreal and Toronto – I don’t know the rest of it…and the next minute they say I’m going to live there.
And they always ask, ‘Have you ever thought of living here?’ Well – every country I’ve ever been in I’ve thought could I live here…

NME: If you attempted to be a U.S. citizen, would it be easier, or more difficult because of your present status?
JOHN: Well, unless I get rid of this thing I can’t even consider it. I mean if I can’t get a green card, no way can I be a citizen, not with a misdemeanour. See, the law in England has changed since the time when all the rock stars were busted; that tricky law where you were responsible if the building had marijuana in it… you were responsible if you owned the building.
No possession. I never had any stuff on me. It was mysteriously found in the building, in the apartment. I think they’ve wiped the slate clean and it’s retroactive in England, but not here.

NME: What can people do about this?
JOHN: Well the English really can’t do anything, except that those who care could write to the American Embassy. The thing with politicians and ambassadors is that if they get one letter, they count it as twenty. One letter keeps them aware, it keeps them realising about it. But it’s really a bore for me and I’m sure a bore for people listening about it…

NME: Does it help when you have a hit album, keep a high profile…so to speak?
JOHN: Well you see more of me if I’ve got a product to sell, it’s as simple as that. Otherwise I`m only seen if I feel like goofing around to a few openings with friends or hanging out in the ‘rock biz`.
But when you`ve got product out you have to be seen or they’ll forget. This sort of thing reminds the powers-that-be of me and what I represent.

NME: Can that work against you?
JOHN: No…no. Because power is power, whatever power I have they’re aware of it. Power doesn’t frighten power, it makes them respect it – that’s their business. You’ve got the bomb, we’ve got the bomb. Everything’s okay. If you aint got the bomb you don’t even get a look-in.
So I’m always aware of keeping my bomb, you know? Even though I blow it a few times, I always manage to put my bomb back together again, because that power is necessary. It’s not good if I don’t put records out, and become invisible, and go away – because then they come right in and say nobody gives a damn… people have forgotten about you.


NME: Let’s just say that when and if there’s a happy ending to all of this, you know – silver lining and all – and there comes a day when you’re knighted in England, or the Academy Awards helps you back to receive a special award, what would your reaction be? Would you tell them to mess off?”
JOHN: Well, there will be a happy ending. But I have no idea what I’ll be doing when I`m 70 or 80 like Charlie Chaplin…or P.G. Wodehouse. I don’t really know Wodehouse`s story but there was something weird about him – about being captured in France by the Nazis and doing broadcasts, and I think that was one of the reasons he left, although he was forgiven.
But the real official forgiveness was when they knighted him last year, and he died happy, right? So, I’m not really interested if I get knighted when I’m 70. I’ll deal with that when it comes. I want it now – not the knighthood, just a green card and a clean passport and the cash I earn in the band in my own name. And I’ll let my music, or my art, speak for me.
If they give me knighthood at the age of seventy I’ll deal with it then. Sir John…

NME: To turn to your music for a moment, what happened at Madison Square Garden when you were to have performed with George (Harrison)? Is it true that Klein had the place staked out with subpoenas?
JOHN: Well, Klein was chasing George all over New York. George was running down back-elevators. I mean, Ringo won’t come to New York. I live here so I get ALL the papers and I’m always doing depositions. See, at the time George was doing his concerts, we were also finalising the Apple papers. And what actually happened was at the last minute I wouldn’t sign it. Actually my astrologer said it wasn’t the right time to sign it.
George got a little angry with me for not signing it, and he decided to finish the tour as he`d started it. That was cool by me, because I’d just done Elton, but I did not want to do George… because it was expected. But he probably made the right decision… I saw him afterwards, at the party.

NME: Was it true that you, or the McCartneys, were denied a backstage pass?
JOHN: Well, there was some funny business… but you know, I like him, I love him, we’re all right… I don’t really want to make a big deal about it.
The thing is just that the business was always interfering with the pleasure. It was hard to deal with each other anyway.
I`d seen a lot of Paul and Ringo in the last two or three years – Paul always comes to New York, or I see Ringo in LA – but I hadn’t seen George.
So we were trying to talk to each other after not having seen each other in three years. During that time we`d only been vaguely communicating through lawyers. We tried to communicate in the hotel, and I hung around the hotel for a few days, but it was hard.
And then I didn’t turn up on the day that I was supposed to sign this agreement. But I finally did sign it, in Disneyland. I wanted to go over it one more time. And I had already seen the concert in Nassau so I wasn’t really planning to go to Madison Square Garden anyway.
I don’t really enjoy sitting in shows, no matter whose they are, because you either have to go backstage with all that hassle or sit in front where you get all the people looking at you. I know Mick (Jagger) and everybody are always doing it, but it wears the shred out of me. Anyway, there aren`t very many people who I`d want to see in concert. I’d only go because they’re friends, you know. I prefer records, I always did. It’s like watching a painter paint – just give me the painting.

NME: Do you have any plans to perform in concerts on your own?
JOHN: Well, performing’s not my greatest kick. I had fun with Elton, but that was just because it was Elton. He was really more nervous than I was, because he was nervous for me. I think he felt, ‘Poor old bugger, maybe he’ll collapse,’ I don’t know…
It was just a weird feeling being up there alone, but I knew Elton, and I knew the band, and it was just a one-off thing. Don’t expect to see me all over the place.
I promised him if ‘Whatever Gets You Through The Night’ got to number one, I’d go one with him – little thinking that it would.
I might do odd TV, or TV specials, where I can control the thing… like in the studio. See, I like to see it, I like to HAVE something afterwards. After the concert you don’t get anything – you either get cash or a headache. I even hate live albums really, even though I’ve put a couple out.

NME: What did you think of George’s shows?
JOHN: Well, I saw the one without Ravi – he`d had a heart attack. But I don’t know… that night the band really cooked, the show I saw was a good show. My personal opinion was that even though I know what George was trying to do, I don’t think it worked with Ravi…
I mean, I’m no one to say what works and what doesn’t work really, but my personal opinion just was that he would have been better without. I think Ravi’s great, but it might have been better to keep Ravi separate. I want to see George do George. I’m with the kids… whether it’s George Beatle or George ex-Beatle.

NME: Do you think that he’s so deeply involved with the Eastern thing that he can’t separate… that was George being George? That he can`t really do the rock and roll thing effectively any more?
JOHN: Well, he’s just cut off, really. It’s easy to get cut off. If you’re surrounded by people who aren’t rocking, then you just forget what it is. And he`s so inolved in the Eastern trip… You know, if you don’t listen to the radio, know who the new artists are, the lastest records… if you switch off from that you don’t know what people listen to.
That happened to me in England. ‘Whatever Gets You Through The Night’ didn’t even crawl around in England, so I said, ‘Send me a tape of the top ten,’ and it’s nowhere like America. I was just – my God, three years… I had no idea what was going on there.
Now I get them to send it over every few months…it all seems to go boom-da-da, boom-da-da, boom-da-da…
The album did alright, it could have done better. It would help if I was more visible there, but I can’t be. And in Britain the TV is sewn up. You`ve got to be in the charts to get on TV, and you can’t get on the TV unless you’re in the charts.
The BBC came over here and filmed me. I guess they figured that the single would jump into the Top 20. But it didn’t. It fell over, so they didn’t use the film.
Now ‘Number Nine Dream’ is doing a bit better, I hear, so that gives you a clue. I think they’re going to like the rock and roll oldies album better than anything, because that’s what they seem to be playing over there. But they’re doing it a bit tongue in cheek, I think. I did it for real.

NME: Do you think that there would be tremendous excitement if you went back to England now? Hysteria?
JOHN: No. There was no hysteria when I was living there, so why should there be now? I mean the Beatles nostalgia and getting back together bit goes on as much here as it does there, maybe more… are you kidding?
I do a lot of radio when I have an album out – and all the people who call up want to know WHEN the Beatles are going to get back together, from Minnesota to Los Angeles, to New York… to the hippest and coolest, they want to know when and if and what`s it gonna be like.
All hysteria is manufactured anyway. At the ‘Sgt Pepper’ opening it was announced, ‘He’s going to be there,’ so it was bloody Beatlemania going on. I got a fright, because I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for.
I got the deja vu, as they say, because it was bloody ‘Hard Day’s Night.’ But that’s because it had been manufactured, and it was ‘Sgt Pepper’ and they probably expected all four. Ever since George did Bangla Desh they expect everybody to come on with him.

NME: Why are there so many lawsuits?
JOHN: Ask any rockstar about lawsuits. And the more money there is, the more lawsuits there are, the bigger the artist, the more lawsuits. I mean, people sue me for anything; that bloody fan with the Instamatic who sued me for hitting her. I never touched her, never went near the girl – in the Troubadour, the famous Troubadour incident.
She sued me, and I had to pay her off to shut her up. That happens all the time, she just wanted money. People sue you if you bump into them on the street. I do admit to chasing some weird people around, but she was not in the scene….

NME: Weird people?
JOHN: Well, I was not in the best frame of mind, and I was wildly drunk. But I was nowhere near this chick, she’s got no photographs of me near her. It was my first night on Brandy Alexanders, and they tasted like milkshakes. The first thing I knew I was out of me gourd.
Of course Harry Nilsson was no help feeding them to me, saying ‘Go ahead John.’ It is true I was wildly obnoxious, but I definitely didn’t hit this woman who just wanted to get her name in the papers and a few dollars.

NME: Doesn’t all this wear you down?
JOHN: Well, I’ve come out of it. Last year, with me personal life and the Apple business, the Klein business and the immigration business… I mean, you don’t want to admit it while it’s happening that that’s what’s making you go barmy.
You’re still living every day and you think you’re just going to a party, then you end up throwing up in the toilet. Everything was excessive, and you’re not quite in control of yourself; you can’t lie back with the hangover and say now why did that happen to me…

NME: It’s surprising that it didn’t get to you more…
JOHN: Well, that was enough. I just woke up in the middle of it and thought… there’s something wrong here. I`d better straighten myself out.’ After I deal with this last batch of lawsuits, I aint gonna have anymore. I don’t know how they happen. One minute you’re talking to someone, the next minute they’re suing you.

NME: As far as your personal life is concerned, you seem ecstatic to be back here with Yoko…
JOHN: Well I am. It’s like – and this is no disrespect to anybody else I was having relationships with – but I feel like I was running around with me head off, and now I got me head back on. Yoko and I were always in touch, either on the phone or in one way or another.
I just sort of came home, is what happened. It’s like I went out to get a coffee or a newspaper somewhere and it took a year…like Sinbad. I went on a boat and went around the world and had a mad trip which I’m glad is over.
Yoko and I have known each other for nine years, which is a long friendship on any level. It was a long year, but it’s been a nine-year relationship, a seven-year marriage – maybe it was the seven-year crutch.
And apart from the pain we caused each other, it probably helped us. We knew we were getting back together, it was just a matter of when. We knew – everybody else might not have, but we did.

NME: Actually, there wasn’t that much press attention to the separation as one might have expected.
JOHN: Well, I read more about myself than you probably do, and I’ll tell you there was. I mean, they would catalogue everyone you went around with, and things like “Lennon In Florida Trip”…things like Rona Barrett. I think she wrote that Yoko was living with my ex-wife in a “strange relationship”. She was putting that around… we got the clippings and everything.
I mean that was dead wrong, because Yoko was very definitely NOT living with my ex-wife in a “very feminist relationship!” I see them all, because I’ve got a clipping service and I get all the newspapers, and you can bet your life somebody’s going to send you the clippings…

NME: Yeah, your friends…
JOHN: Yes, all your best friends let you know what’s going on. I was trying to put it round that I was gay, you know. I thought that would throw them off… dancing at all the gay clubs in Los Angeles, flirting with the boys… but it never got off the ground.

NME: I think I’ve only heard that lately about Paul..
JOHN: Oh, I’ve had him, he’s no good. (laughs).

NME: What`s this about recording with Bowie?
JOHN: Well, he was doing “Across The Universe” and I had sort of met him once in LA and met him again here. That was an old song of mine. I gave it away because we made a lousy version of it, and then Spector made an improved lousy version of it and it ended up on the “Let It Be” LP which none of us would have anything to do with.
So I just went down to Electric whatever, where he was recording, and I did whatever you do. Then he, or the guitarist, had this sort of a lick, and we made a song out of it, called “Fame”.
It’s an interesting track. So that’s the extent of it, and they’ll be on his new album – the one with “Young Americans” on it.

NME: I’d like to clear up one of those myths… about Brian Epstein “packaging” the Beatles. How true is that?
JOHN: Everything is true and not true about everything. I mean, we certainly weren’t naive. We were no more naive than he was. I mean, what was he?…He served in a record shop.
So Epstein was serving in a record shop and he had nothing to do, and saw these sort of…rockers, greasers, playing loud music and a lot of kids paying attention to it. And he thought, well “This is a business to be in,” and he liked it – he liked the look of it.
He wanted to manage us, and he told us that he thought he could manage us and we had nobody better so we said all right, you can do it.
Then he went around shopping, getting us work, and it got to a point where he said, “Look, if you cut your hair you’ll get this”… For at that time it was longer than in any of the photographs. It was generally cut or trimmed for the photographs; even in school photographs your hair was cut the day before, or when you had a holiday. Somehow your parents always managed to cut your hair.
But there were some private pictures that show it was pretty long for those days, and greased back, hanging around.
There was a lot of long hair on the teddy boys… the Tony Curtises that grew larger and larger because they never went to the hairdresser.
We were pretty greasy. Outside of Liverpool, when we went down South in our leather outfits, the dance hall promoters didn’t really like us. They thought we looked like a gang of thugs. So it got to be like Epstein said, “Look if you wear a suit…”, and everybody wanted a good suit, you know? A nice sharp, black suit man… We liked the leather and the jeans but we wanted a good suit, even to wear offstage. “Yeah, man, I’ll have a suit”.
So if you wear a suit, you’ll get this much money… all right, wear a suit. I`ll wear a suit. I’ll wear a bloody balloon if somebody’s going to pay me. I’m not in love with the leather THAT much.
He was our salesman, our front. You’ll notice that another quirk of life is – I may have read this somewhere – that self-made men usually have someone with education to front for them, to deal with all the other people with education. Now Epstein had enough education to go in and deal with the hobnobs… and it’s the same thing now. If I have a lawsuit, I have to get a lawyer.
Epstein fronted for the Beatles, and he played a great part of whatever he did. He was theatrical – that was for sure. And he believed in us. But he certainly didn’t package us the way they say he packaged us.
He was good at his job, but to an extent he wasn’t the greatest businessman. He was theatrical and he believed. But you have to look at it this way: if he was such a great packager, so clever at packaging products, whatever happened to Gerry and the Pacemakers and all the other packages? Where are they? Where are those packages? Only one package survived, the original package. It was a mutual deal. You want to manage us? Okay, we’ll let you. We ALLOW you to – we weren’t picked up off the street. We allowed him to take us.
Paul wasn’t that keen, but he’s more conservative in the way he approaches things. He even says that himself – and that’s all well and good – maybe he’ll end up with more yachts.

NME: Did you go to Allen Klein because of the Stones?
JOHN: Well, I reckoned Klein was all right because of the Stones. I thought Mick was together – see, this is the fallacy. Everyone always thinks everyone else is together. You’re together yourself or forget it.

NME: You should always go by your instincts…
JOHN: I know I’m trying to learn. It’s a hard thing to learn after being programmed for life not to use your instincts, you know.
Women use them a bit better than men. One benefit you got from slavery was that you were emotional… that’s cool. But men were supposed to make decisions or reason and intellect, so it always interfered with your instinct. But my instinct is what has always saved me from lots of dragons…

A really nice ad from Mr. Cooper.

A really nice ad from Mr. Cooper.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Labelle, Chaka Khan, Chuck Berry, Lou Reed, Uriah Heep, Jack The Lad, Richard Thompson and Linda, Elton John.

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