In 1974, John Lennon last stepped onto the main stage of a huge stadium and left the whole world wanting more. The singer would join Elton John on the sparkling Madison Square Garden stage to perform three wonderful tunes, including the trippy Beatles classic from Sgt. Pepper “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – and all because of a bet.
Lennon had avoided the stage for a long time before joining Elton on stage. Having decided with The Beatles to become a studio band a few years ago and continued much of the same practices (except for a few special appearances) with his solo career, Lennon’s on-stage swagger could have been a little rusty. In fact, he wouldn’t have joined The Rocketman if he hadn’t lost a bet and while there might have been some nerves before the show, Lennon’s presence on stage is undeniable and his mastery of the audience palpable every second. surviving images.
The story goes that after John Lennon asked Elton John for help on his new track “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night”, the duo came to an agreement. Elton had been in the studio to provide harmonies and piano on the air during the summer of 1974. It was during these sessions that Elton made a bet with Lennon on how the track would perform on the charts. . It had happy consequences, especially for a lucky audience.
Lennon spoke about the glorious moment in a BBC interview days before his untimely death, and we’ll leave it to the Beatle to pick up the story. “Elton was in town and I was doing it and I needed the harmony. He made the harmony on it and a few others, and played a beautiful piano on it. And jokingly he was telling me he was going to do this Madison Square Garden gig – he said, ‘Will you do that with me if the album is number one? ”
“And I didn’t expect him to hit number one at all.” I didn’t think it had a chance in hell. I said, “Of course, of course, of course I will.” Sometimes fate has other plans for you and it was clear those fates wanted to see the bespectacled Beatle take the stage giving it their all.
‘Whatever Gets You Thru The Night’ would be Lennon’s first solo act over the pond, which meant Lennon would have to pay, ‘OK, it’s time to pay your dues! ” Lennon joked, ” It was the first number one I had, actually. “Imagine” wasn’t number one, “Instant Karma” wasn’t number one – which I all think are better records than “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night”. (The) words are pretty good. But anyway, so what could we sing about, that was the point.
The duo had not been friends for a very long time, having only met in 1973 despite sharing the same publisher, the duo got along wonderfully. Elton reflected on their friendship: “We got along like a house on fire and hung out for a few years; I found him very nice, very funny. I don’t know why we clicked, but we did and he clicked with my group and he clicked with the people around me. And we had so much fun. Being a huge Beatles fan, naturally Elton was a little scared: “I was quite intimidated by him, because I knew he was razor sharp and could be very abrasive. But that side never came with me – only the nice side and the funny side.
Lennon, always a man of his word, dutifully accepted the show and went to Madison Square Gardens to perform three songs with Elton. Picking up their co-created ‘Whatever Gets You thru The Night’, then playing ‘Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds’, a song Elton and Lennon re-recorded earlier this year, and Elton’s current single and the Beatles song “Saw her standing there”. All three songs complete a night to remember for everyone involved.
In a recent interview, Elton shared his thoughts on Lennon during his discussion of the icon with his son, Sean: “When I met your dad I was a little in awe, obviously I was in awe of the icon. ‘one of the Beatles. and they all treated me so brilliantly, ”the singer recalls. “But your father had this advantage that none of the other Beatles had, in a way because he was not afraid to say what he saw. And I met him on a video shoot for Mind Games with my friend Tony King playing the Queen.
Elton remembered the reunion and what it was like at the time: “I was wearing a bright green Saint Laurent satin suit and I was like, ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’ and your dad was nice too. and also generous and gentle and we hit it immediately. He was so funny. That’s what I liked about him. And we talked about music, we talked about records that we liked.
While there are unfortunately not many believable footage at the moment, only Elton’s own channel provides the most concrete video (others use audio and clips from John & Yoko A love story) we have brought you the best we can find. In many ways, it’s better if this moment remains a special yet unattainable dream where two music icons have come together because two buddies made a friendly bet.
Watch John Lennon’s final performance on stage below.