The former Beatle appeared on stage in a fashionable red jumpsuit backed by a bizarre band at the Sir Lew Grade tribute in New York
On this day in 1975 John Lennon’s last public performance and TV appearance was broadcast
Growing tired of public life and music industry, former Beatle John Lennon began a self-imposed exile in 1975 while living in New York. For years he had been battling the U.S immigration services and living in fear of being deported. It was a period where Lennon’s maturity as a person and artist was finally coming out, after the wild years of The Beatles, and the early years in the States, where he had became a heavy drug and alcohol user. By 1975, with Yoko Ono pregnant from his son Sean Lennon, it was it for him: he was dedicating to be a full time stay at home dad. But before that, Lennon still had some contractual obligations as well as some unfinished businesses on the music industry. On April 18th, he goes up on stage and does his very last public performance as a musician, which also became the last time he made a TV appearance. In what is now seen as a diplomatic gesture towards a “new business partner”, John Lennon went up on stage at the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria in New York City and performed three songs on the Tribute show “Salute To Sir Lew Grade”, an homage to powerful British media mogul Sir Lew Grade. It was bizarre how Lennon accepted to perform at the tribute show of a man he had been battling in court for years. The story between the two goes back to 1969, when Sir Lew Grade was knighted and the same year, his entertainment company, Associated TeleVision (ATV) purchased a majority stake in the rights to Northern Songs and Maclen Music—the songs of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. In a long court battle, that started with Lennon and McCartney suing Grade and the media mogul filling separate lawsuits against both Lennon and McCartney, the court sided with Paul, but John ended up settling, with ATV becoming the co-publisher of all new Lennon songs in 1974. And so, in what is now seen as a diplomatic gesture, John Lennon performed at Sir Lew Grade tribute three songs, two of them covers: Little Richard’s “Slippin’ and Slidin’”, Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” and his own “Imagine”. The performance was broadcast on TV on June 13, 1975, and many were surprised by Lennon’s “bizarre” appearance dressed in a red jumpsuit, along with the mysterious backing band wearing masks on on the backs of their shaved heads, which many interpret as being a Lennon’s subliminal reference to Sir Lew Grade or to himself as cynical.
Watch the 1975 TV broadcast of John Lennon’s performance at the “Salut To Sir Lew Grade” featuring “Slippin’ and Slidin’” and “Imagine”, as well as the end of the show featuring Sir Lew Grade dancing
Watch John Lennon performing “Imagine” at the “Salute To Sir Lew Grade” in 1975
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