Today's T-Shirt Tuesday is dedicated to the late, great John Lennon. 35 years ago today, his peaceful domestic life on New York’s Upper West Side was shattered by 25-year-old Mark David Chapman. The obsessed fan shot John four times at close range with a .38-caliber revolver. John, bleeding profusely, was rushed to the hospital but died en route. He was only 40 years old. For a week, hundreds of bereaved fans kept a vigil outside of Lennon’s apartment building and demonstrations of mourning were held around the world. Today, we are still mourning his loss. But, John lives on in his music, so full of love and peace and truth.
Just five years before his death in 1935, not long after the release of his fifth studio album Walls and Bridges and an 18-month separation from Yoko–his "Lost Weekend", John dropped out of the music business to spend more time with his wife and their son, Sean. Our shirt, pictured below, is a promotional item from Walls and Bridges' notable "Listen to This" ad campaign. Now, Wallswas an American Billboard No.1 and featured two hit singles "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night"–a song recorded with Elton John–and "#9 Dream", the first of which was John's first No.1 hit in the United States as a solo artist, and his only chart-topping single in either the US or Britain during his lifetime.
While Elton was still in New York, John invited him to play on the album, and Elton duly added harmony vocals, piano and organ to 'Whatever Get You Thru The Night'. According to Lennon, “Elton said ‘Say, can I put a bit of piano on that?’ I said, ‘Sure, love it!’ He zapped in. I was amazed at his ability. I knew him, but I’d never seen him play. A fine musician, great piano player. I was really pleasantly surprised at the way he could get in on such a loose track and add to it and keep up with the rhythm changes – obviously, ’cause it doesn’t keep the same rhythm. And then he sang with me. We had a great time.”
When they finished the recording, John told Elton that he was the only Beatle that had not managed a solo No.1 single. Elton’s response was to bet John that if ‘Whatever Gets You Thru the Night’ went to No.1, John should join Elton on stage at New York’s Madison Square Garden at Thanksgiving. John jokingly agreed, never expecting for one minute that Elton might be right.
John, dressed in a black suit and playing a black Fender Telecaster, held up his side of the deal with Elton and joined him on stage at Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving, 28 November 1974, to a prolonged, thunderous standing ovation from the ecstatic audience, amazed at Rock History being made in front of their very eyes and ears. John and Elton and his band performed ‘Whatever Gets You Thru the Night’, 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds', Elton's then‑current single (on which John had sung harmony vocals), and The Beatles 'I Saw Her Standing There' which Lennon credited to "an old, estranged fiancé of mine named Paul.”
This proved to be John Lennon’s last major concert appearance, but his appearance also brought about further reconciliation. Yoko had sent orchids to her husband and Elton, which they both wore onstage. John, not knowing Yoko was in the audience nervously met with her backstage after the show when they shared a moment where they both later said they just "clicked". The video above, particularly Yoko's time on camera, is absolute evidence of their love. Please do take the time to watch!
John told Rolling Stone in June 1975, "It meant a lot to me and it meant a hell of a lot to Elton, and he was in tears. It was a great high night, a really high night. Yoko and I met backstage. And somebody said, 'Well, there's two people in love.' It was very weird. There was just that moment when we saw each other and like, it's like in the movies, you know, when time stands still? And there was silence, everything went silent, y'know, and we were just sort of lookin' at each other and... oh, hello.
After a period of dating, John and Yoko fully resumed their relationship less than three months later in January 1975.
This post contains excerpts from Richard Haver's story behind Walls and Bridges. Read the whole piece here.