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Elton John and John Lennon at Madison Square Garden, 28 November 1974

Updated on December 25, 2020

We are in 1974, John Lennon is in Los Angeles, still in the middle of the so-called "lost weekend", his period of time away from Yoko Ono, and he is recording what will become Walls And Bridges. In one song of the album, Whatever Gets You Thru The Night, none other than Elton John participates as a guest, accompanying Lennon both on piano and vocals, also faithfully imitating Lennon's vocal style.

When this song was chosen as a single, Elton proposed to Lennon, given the then two-year long absence from the stages by the former Beatle, to appear at one of his concerts if the song had reached the number one in the charts. Lennon accepted, mainly because he was convinced of the impossibility of it, because of the superficiality and lightness of the song, but also because of the unusual arrangement with two male voices in a duet. Elton, as a further tribute, decided to record a cover of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds with a more reggae arrangement, which pleased Lennon very much, who also decided to participate in the recording as a rhythmic guitarist, credited as "The Reggae Guitars of Dr. Winston O 'Boogie ". Elton thanked John for his participation by giving him an onyx pendant with the design of a gold wall, a platinum bridge and the words WINSTON O 'BOOGIE written in diamonds. In the same sessions Elton also covered One Day At A Time, another song by Lennon from Mind Games.

Lennon then returned to work on what was to become the Rock N 'Roll album as a consequence of the legal problems caused by the alleged plagiarism of Come Together, and, on November 18th, Whatever Gets You Thru The Night reached the top spot in the US, followed shortly after by the album Walls And Bridges.

Of course Elton reminded John of his promise, and reiterated that there were no more excuses. Lennon accepted, though with a little reluctance, to appear at Madison Square Garden on the last date of Elton's tour, on Thanksgiving Day, November 28th. All this was intended as a surprise, as there was no announcement whatsoever. To get ready for the whole thing, John flew to Boston a few days earlier to see Elton in concert, and for a short while it nearly convinced him to give up the idea. Seeing this chameleonic and whimsical character constantly changing costume in concerts nearly three hours long and with an enviable energy made him a certain effect. But the day of the concert came and they decided to play Whatever Gets You Thru The Night, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds in Elton's version, and, to everyone's surprise, I Saw Her Standing There. Elton wanted John to play Imagine, but he refused because he just wanted to have fun playing rock 'n roll. It was Elton who proposed the old Beatles classic, and John accepted with enthusiasm.

Lennon's appearance was supposed to be about 2 hours from the beginning, during which John became very anxious, until Elton picked up the microphone and said, "Since it's Thanksgiving, we thought of cheer up a little the evening by inviting a person here on stage ". John went up and they both started with Lennon's last single, followed by the old Lucy. Then Lennon announced "a song by an estranged fiancèe of mine, called Paul" and away with I Saw Her Standing There. At that point the audience was in awe, and then the song ended, between the emotion and the tears of everyone there, John and Elton hugged and the latter's concert went on. It was to be John Lennon's last appearance on a stage. The meeting with Yoko followed immediately after, which was present among the audience without John's knowledge, and their reconciliation led to the end of the "lost weekend".

Whatever Gets You Through The Night

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

I Saw Her Standing There

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