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Beatles Interviews Database: John Lennon Interview: New Musical Express 9/20/1969
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Two days after John Lennon's appearance at the Rock And Roll Revival in Toronto, he gave an exclusive interview to Alan Smith. This brief chat would be published in the September 20th 1969 issue of the New Musical Express. The article would be entitled, John Lennon: "I've Formed A New Group!"

Lennon appeared with Yoko Ono alongside Plastic Ono bandmembers Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman and Alan White, live on stage for a rivival of early rock and roll, of which Lennon was such a huge fan. Also on the bill were many of Lennon's heros, including Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Gene Vincent. Also appearing were contemporaries Jim Morrison and the Doors. Lennon's portion of the concert has been released on DVD.

Beatles roadie Mal Evans told Beatles Book Monthly in their November 1969 issue: "John particularly wanted Eric Clapton but we couldn't get hold of him. George's personal assistant, Terry Doran, had already tried Eric Clapton at home many times and got no answer. Fortunately, just before he gave up the search, Terry Doran had sent a telegram to his house, which had been opened by Eric's gardener, who woke him up to tell him about the concert. Eric couldn't make the airport for the earlier plane so we cancelled our flight and re-booked. Everyone turned up on time for the 3:15 pm flight. That's when it hit me. None of the people who were due to make the concert that night had ever played together before. How on earth were they going to get a show lined up before they went on stage that same night. John and Eric walked down the aisle to the back of the plane to have their first rehearsal. I don't know if you have ever tried rehearsing in the back seats of a Boeing 707 but it's quite a job."

In 2001, drummer Alan White would remember during a 'Notes From The Edge' interview: "I got to meet Gene Vincent and Little Richard... just a bunch of people kept coming in and out of the dressing room, and we were all just sitting there waiting to play. John was kind of nervous -- he got sick, but it was just a physical reaction to going onstage again, since it was the first gig he'd done since he was with the Beatles."

Also in this issue of NME is an interview with George Harrison entitled "I'm Not Competing With John And Paul." NME's Alan Smith also gives a track-by-track synopsis of the forthcoming Abbey Road album, which would be released one week later in the UK on September 26th.

                                          - Jay Spangler,

John Lennon decided to fly to Canada for the weekend -- you know how it is -- and when he and Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman and drummer Alan White got to Toronto they appeared at a rock 'n' roll revival, and had a fantastic time singing all the old rockin' ravers.

"The buzz," said John when he got back to London on Monday, "was incredible. I never felt so good in my life."

He was utterly mystified by reports in the Daily Mirror that John and Yoko were booed off the stage. "All I can say," said John with the words bubbling out at the kick of the experience, "is that there were about 25,000 people there, and maybe 15 didn't like it. I don't know. I didn't hear anything... It's always the man from the daily paper who does!

"We started doing things like 'Blue Suede Shoes,' rehearsing on the plane. It was a mad-house! Everybody was really together. It was as solid as ---- ! And so we did all the 'Money' and 'Dizzy Miss Lizzy' bit and it was fantastic.

"Everybody was with us and leaping up and down doing the peace sign, because they knew most of the numbers anyway, and we did a number called 'Cold Turkey' we'd never done before, and they dug it like mad. Nobody's recorded it yet... it was the first performance... and the way Eric and Klaus and Alan the drummer, who used to be with Alan Price... the way we got it together was like we'd been playing it for years.

"It looks like this is going to be the Plastic Ono Band in the future! I don't know though... it's very flexible.

"The whole thing was a laugh, because I got a phone call at nine o'clock on Friday night; left Saturday morning at 3 am; and before they'd even hung up, I had the group together!

"It was a fantastic bill... Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Doors. And Yoko did a number which was half-rock and half-madness, and it really freaked 'em out! And after Yoko had been on about a quarter of an hour, we all left our amps going like clappers and had a smoke on the stage. Then when they stopped, the whole crowd was chanting 'Give Peace A Chance.'

"I was only able to say hello to RIchard on the way in and then he seemed to get lost, but Gene Vincent was watching us on stage and he was crying it was such an experience."

John revealed that he had wanted to take part in the Hyde Park free concert on September 5 -- which was cancelled -- and that performing live now gave him a great kick and he'd like to do it again.

"We may even bring our own booers. Everywhere we go, we'll have a resident team of booers to help us on!"

Source: Transcribed by from original magazine issue

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