Q: What was John really like?
A: Such a simple question…and so impossible to answer. Like everyone (and perhaps more so), John was very complex. On the surface he was charming, easy going…and that Lennon sense of humor was always ready. He’d always have handy a black Flair marker pen, which he’d use to doodle and to write down anything that inspired him — and everyone and everything inspired him — and these jottings would eventually turn up in his songs. He did have some emotional issues that stemmed from his traumatic childhood.Â He was always trying to better better himself; always “looking for the answer.”
Q: What were John’s favorites….?
A: John was an avid reader — all kinds of books, the Sunday New York Times, gossip columns. He was also a bit of a TV addict (especially the commercials) — he would’ve loved today’s 10,000 channels. He loved the sun and the sea; we spent a lot of time relaxing on Long Island. Of course, he loved listening to new music and was very into the budding disco scene. He’d also go thru food periods — during Walls And Bridges, he was into my Sunday cooking of a total English breakfast. When we were in L.A., the staple was blueberry pancakes at IHOP. Chinese food was another mainstay. He dropped “British tea” for American coffee.
Q: Do you keep in touch with anyone from your time with John?
A: I do see Paul from time to time, and Cynthia Lennon and I are good friends. There are lots of folks from the Apple and Abkco days, like Chris O’Dell, Peter Asher, John Kosh and, sometimes, Neil Aspinall. Of course, I have stayed in touch with many of the musicians that played on John’s records, like David Spinozza, Jim Keltner, Ken Ascher, Hugh McCracken, Michael Brecker, etc.
Q: Are you in touch with Yoko?
A: I haven’t spoken to Yoko since the mid-70′s. I don’t expect to anytime soon.
Q: What was John’s relationship with Julian?
A: Before John and I got together, he hadn’t seen Julian for years. I actually insisted on Julian visiting. They had some good quality time together. We took him to Disneyland and Disneyworld; he stayed with us in New York, and even played on Dad’s Walls And Bridges album.
Q: How did John and Harry hook up?
A: John and Harry met during The Beatle days, but it was only during our time in L.A. that John got to know him better.Â Harry was a close friend of Ringo’s in L.A., so it was bound to happen that John would fall into that mix.
Q: How did John like working with Elton John?
A: John loved working with Elton…he admired his talent as a pianist greatly.
Q: Does it bother you that your time with John is known as “The Lost Weekend?”
A: Yes, which is the reason I wrote my book. First, it wasn’t exactly a weekend — it was 18 months. And this time wasn’t so “lost” — John was the most creative of his post-Beatles career. He got his first #1 album, Walls And Bridges, and his first #1 single, Whatever Gets You Thru The Night. He also did the Mind Games and Rock N Roll albums, and worked with Ringo, Harry Nilsson, David Bowie and Elton John. Went out to do some impromptu jamming with Paul and Linda, Stevie Wonder and Mick Jagger — to name a few.
Q: How did John feel about Paul, George and Ringo?
A: Despite what was said in the press, and even by John himself at times, he loved them like brothers. Ringo was living with us in L.A., he and George ironed out some tension during George’s Dark Horse Tour in 1974. At one point, he was going to get onstage and play with George to help his mate since the tour was not going so well. As fate would have it, it didn’t happen. And with Paul and Linda, we were actually planning on joining them in New Orleans for the Venus And Mars sessions.
Q: How can I get a copy of your book, Loving John?
A: At the moment, the book is out-of-print. You can find it occasionally at fan conventions or on eBay. Maybe one day, the book will be reprinted.
Q: Did you ever sing on any of John’s records?
A: Yes, I did sing background vocals on #9 Dream (from Walls And Bridges) and Do You Want to Dance and Since My Baby Left Me (from Rock N Roll). I also sang in the choir of Happy Xmas (War Is Over) and on Ringo’s Goodnight Vienna (in fact, there’s a picture of me singing with the group in the album’s inner-sleeve). I had a “featured” vocal on #9 Dream — calling John’s name.
Q: In #9 Dream, what does “Ah! bowakawa pousse pousse” mean?
A: This was one of John’s favorite songs, because it literally came to him in a dream. He woke up and wrote down those words along with the melody. He had no idea what it meant, but he thought it sounded beautiful. John arranged the strings in such a way that the song really does sound like a dream. It was the last song written for the album, and went thru a couple of title changes: “So Long Ago,” and “Walls & Bridges.”
Q: How do you feel about the remixes and reissues of John’s work?
A: I’m all for it. I know there are some “purists” out there who would not want to tamper with anything but I feel (and I think John would’ve also felt) that today’s technology can give the music a more dynamic range and better sound. Once John’s mixed and mastered albums appeared on vinyl, they sounded different from what we had heard on the master tapes because of the vinyl. So most people who remember hearing the music on vinyl initially think it sounds “different” or “clinical” on CD — but it was already colored by the vinyl. John was always looking for the latest technology (The Beatles did pioneer just about every innovation in their time) and I think he would’ve appreciated the digital domain.
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