Monday, August 27, 2012
Winter 1973. I’m an engineer at KABC and KLOS radio in Los Angeles. Essentially I worked as a board op for KLOS. That meant I played the records and commercials. Union rules prohibited the disc jockeys from doing anything other than turning on and off their microphoness. Oh, and they could talk. They got that concession.
It was a cool job. KLOS played what today we call “classic rock.” Album cuts and Layla. I loved the music and the jocks were all terrific dudes. I’m still friends with Jim Ladd, Marc Driscoll, and Dion Jackson from that talented staff.
Occasionally I would have to go across the hall and handle KABC talk shows. That was fun too. Talk radio in those days welcomed different points of view, not just one. Imagine such a concept – a balance of ideas. I know. It was crazy.
I’m working one Saturday night on KLOS. I’m on my break. It’s about 9:45. The 10:00 KABC talk show host was Elliott Mintz. There was a long hallway at KABC/KLOS that led to the side entrance. I step out of our studio and happen to glance down the hallway. Holy shit! There’s John Lennon and Yoko Ono buzzing to be let in. They were Elliott’s scheduled guests. ( Elliott is still Yoko’s publicist, by the way.)
I duck my head into the KABC control room and say I’ll get them. Then I barrel down the hall and usher them in. I introduce myself and shake hands with them both. Yoko’s handshake is firmer than John’s.
He’s wearing a blue jean shirt and khakis. She’s wearing a huge black fur that must weigh sixty pounds.
I’ve got about twenty seconds alone with John & Yoko as I lead them down this long hall. What do you say to them?
At the time there was a very popular album by the National Lampoon that featured a very funny send-up of John called “Magical Misery Tour.” In that song he’s forever yelling, “I’m a fuckin’ genius!”
I don’t know what possessed me but I say to John, “So… what’s it like being a fuckin’ genius?” Without breaking stride he gives me a big grin and says, “Pretty nice, actually!”
That was it. We arrive at the studio and Elliott takes it from there. I couldn’t even hang back to watch the interview. I was due back at KLOS at 10:00.
But it brings up an interesting question. If you get to meet someone you idolize and you have time to ask him just one thing, what would it be? I’m sure had I known in advance that I would be meeting John I would have prepared something a little less – how should I say it? – obnoxious, but I just had the sense he would take the question in the spirit it was asked and in fact he did.
I didn’t have time to ask Yoko a question. Which is probably good. I don’t think she would have seen the whimsy in “What dead animal is that?”
So there’s my twenty second brush with greatness… and his wife.
Here's "Magical Misery Tour".
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM