Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The night I met John Lennon

It was the summer of ‘72. This is another radio story. I was an engineer at KABC/KLOS in Los Angeles. It was a Saturday night. Elliott Mintz hosted a weekend talk show on KABC. He was (and is) very close to Yoko Ono. I believe been her publicist for all these years.

On this particular Saturday night he had arranged for John and Yoko to be his guests. I knew nothing about it.  But I happened to be on a break, and as I turned into the long hallway that ran the length of the station I spotted John and Yoko at the side door.

Holy shit! I couldn’t believe it.

So I barreled down the hallway to let them in. John was wearing a jean jacket and sported the familiar round wire glasses, hair parted down the middle. Yoko was wearing a giant black fur. I think it was August.

I let them in and said I’d escort them to the booth. I introduced myself and shook hands with both. John’s handshake was very limp. Yoko’s was very firm.

Like I said, this was a long hallway. What do you say to John Lennon? I didn’t want to just gush and be yet another tiresome groupie. And there was hardly time to engage him in a lengthy discussion.

There was, at the time, a NATIONAL LAMPOON comedy album that was quite popular. One of the cuts was a parody of John Lennon. In it, the Lennon impersonator keeps boasting, “I’m a fuckin’ genius! I’m a fuckin’ genius!”

So, throwing caution to the wind, I asked the great John Lennon, “So what’s it like being a fuckin’ genius?” I know. You’re horrified.  What the hell was I thinking?

John smiled at me and said, “Pretty nice, actually!”

We shook hands again and he and Yoko disappeared into the studio.  In addition to everything else, he really did have that sense of humor.

I still can’t believe he’s gone. And for so many years.

He was a fuckin’ genius.

24 comments:

VP81955 said...

Thank God he got the joke. (And I miss you too, John.)

Michael said...

Ken, when we meet someone who is a hero to us and s/he proves to be as we hoped, it's very special. When I was nine, I met Vin Scully, and he was (and I know still is) everything I could have hoped. I'm glad you have that memory to hold.

MikeAdamson said...

I had that National Lampoon album...genius is pain.

RCP said...

Thanks for sharing this, Ken.

Mac said...

That's cool. A friend of mine edits music videos and sits next to famous people all the time in his suite, but they're all just clients to him. Except for the time he had to work with Paul McCartney and he couldn't concentrate, because all he could think about was "I'm sitting next to one of the fucking Beatles!"
He said McCartney was so funny (and normal) that he managed to forget that he was sitting next to a major pop culture icon, and just had a great time.

Troy said...

Alternate John Lennon Answer:

"Genius? Have you met my wife?"

gottacook said...

I bought that fookin' album when it was new - I was a Lampoon subscriber in those days, still in high school and having switched over from Mad - and still own it: their first album, Radio Dinner, which came out in (I think) summer '72. It doesn't say so on the album, but all the words (except for, perhaps, "The sky is blue") are supposedly taken directly from the "Lennon Remembers" interview in Rolling Stone. The excellent impersonator was Tony Hendra.

Matt Patton said...

Do you suppose Yoko personally killed the black, furry things she was wearing? Wouldn't surprise me . . .

RCP said...

Matt Patton said...

Do you suppose Yoko personally killed the black, furry things she was wearing? Wouldn't surprise me . . .

That doesn't say much for John's judgment or intelligence, does it?

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I don't see the big deal about the Beatles. I'm not insulted that Britney didn't know who they were.

Roger Owen Green said...

I LOVE that NatLamp parody!

Wish I had such great story. Here's mine.

BTW, Anonymous, who's Britney?

Anonymous said...

Who's Britney?

Will Teullive said...

I also met Lennon once...Tom Lennon from Reno 911 and he was still wearing the shorty police shorts.

I didn't ask him what it's like to be a genius, but I did say "I think I can see your penis."

Jim Pacek said...

That's a great story. Thank you for sharing. I sometimes wonder what music he would have created if he hadn't been taken from the world too soon...

Derek & Karen said...

I suspect that's the way most people would actually act with stars. Folks always say "I would love to meet (fill in famous star's name here)". But what would you say to them if you met them? The "fucking genius" question was brilliant. In the end, they're just people -- people who we actually have nothing in common with.

Max Clarke said...

John Lennon and The Beatles reinvented music. Every time they released an album, they pushed rock and pop in a new direction. Nobody does that anymore. That's just one way of appreciating how important those musicians were.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Lennon is my musical hero. Thanks for the story, and for showing he was as smart and quick as people said.

Larry said...

That's a great story. When I was a kid I always planned in the back of my mind to meet John some day. When I visited New York in the 70s I hoped to see him on the streets.

Guess I'll have to settle for Paul. Where does he live?

Anonymous said...

If you had to write that scene for a sitcom, I'd be curious what the radio DJ would be saying and Lennon's response.

Matt Patton said...

RCP:

My theory on Lennon's second marriage is that Yoko was not so much his wife as his mother. A mother who allowed for occasional acts of incest . . .

And let's face it, he also got one HECK of an investment banker in the same package.

Anonymous said...

gottacook -
Thanks for taking me back in time. I loved that whole album. If you look on the back cover the photo shot of the cast is like a who's who of SNL royalty. Gilda, Chevy, Aykroyd, Belushi, Bill Murray, Michael O'Donohue, Al Franken, Paul Shaffer, and that's just off the top of my head. Its worth climbing up the the attic and hooking up the turntable just to hear it again.
The sky is bluuuue. LOL!

Now go placidly amid the noise and waste and remember that a walk through the ocean of most souls will scarcely get your feet wet.

chuckcd said...

Hard to believe its been 30 years since he was killed. I still remember where I was and what I was doing when "I heard the news (today, oh boy)".

Anonymous said...

John Lennan is the most overrated piece of shit next to Bob Dylan. Imagine is the most insipid thing I've ever heard in my life.

Mike Barer said...

After hearing about his rants with the Smothers Brothers, I'm glad he could take that with good humor. I envy you for spending time with one of my generation's icons.