John Lennon in New York City

John Lennon New York City

John Lennon New York City

America was a legend to John Lennon long before he ever left England’s shores. In his imagination it held pride of place as the mythical land that had spawned rock ‘n’ roll and was the home of his idol, Elvis Presley. In Liverpool,” John loved to say, “when you stood on the edge of the water you knew the next place was America.” But the culture itself was no myth: like many other English kids John was brought up on Kellogg’s Cornflakes, Heinz Baked Beans, Coca-Cola and Hollywood movies. 

When the Beatles’ dream came true and they toured all over the States John was overwhelmed. Although, it was impossible for him to feel the true pulse of the cities while shut away in hotel rooms or stuck in the back of black-windowed limousines. 

The reasons for the Lennons 1977 move to New York were numerous and complex, a series of events rather than any specific decision on the part of John or Yoko. Initially they came to the United States in an effort to locate Yoko’s daughter, Kyoko, who had once again disappeared with her father Tony Cox. For several years, losing and then relocating Kyoko had been a frustrating exercise for the Lennons. They were now determined to do something about it once and for all by taking the case to the American courts so that Yoko could appeal for custody of the child. 

New York had been Yoko’s home for fifteen years before she met John, and from her descriptions and many stories John had gradually built up a strong desire to experience the city firsthand. In England Yoko lived very much in John’s domain, and I felt that she was itching to get back to the big city among the artistic avant-garde. In 1969 they had been denied entry into the States because of John’s drug conviction. Finally they were allowed to stay in the country during the spring and summer of 1970 to undergo Primal Therapy. 

Toward the end of the same year, after returning to England to record the “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” album, John and Yoko visited New York together for the first time. It was an enlightening experience for John. He got to meet many artists and filmmakers including Jonas Mekas, and he spent a lot of time with Allen Klein. 

John was interviewed during this visit by Jann Wenner, editor of Rolling Stone. The result was an impressive thirty thousand word article which was run in two parts, under the title of “John Lennon, The Working Class Hero.” The interview presented the public with a rare detailed insight into John’s inner feelings of that moment. It was read in context with his new record and both reflected the thoughts and realizations Post-Primal Lennon had arrived at after four months of intense therapy. 

John Lennon New York City Exhibition[/caption]


John was definitely hooked on New York. Ten years earlier he had loved night life in Hamburg, the all-night cafes and nightclubs, the fun of getting anything you wanted day or night. Liverpool also was a cosmopolitan bustling port full of immigrants and nightclubs where blues and rock’n'roll were played. So in spirit John was really a New Yorker long before he arrived. He told Wenner at the end of his visit “America is where it’s at. I should have been born in New York, I should have been born in the
Village, that’s where I belong. . . . Everybody heads toward the center, that’s why I’m here now. I’m here just to breathe it.” 

John and Yoko returned to England. Eight months later, after recording the “Imagine” album in the recently completed studios at Tittenhurst Park and shooting forty thousand feet of film to go with it, the Lennons went to the Virgin Islands, where Kyoko and Tony Cox were reported to be living, and then on to New York. This time they were not to leave, and the city was to become their home for many years. 

John and Yoko rented a studio in the West Village to live in and a loft in Soho to use as a workspace. John felt comfortable in the Village: “It’s like a little Welsh village, with Jones the Fish and Jones the Milk, and everybody seems to know everybody.” And he quickly got into New York habits like riding a bicycle in the Park, going to movies in the middle of the night, and picking up the Sunday papers in Sheridan Square. “We love it,” John said. “New York is a fantastic place; there’s an unbelievably creative atmosphere on this little island of Manhattan. Like they say, there just isn’t anything you can’t get in New York. . . . I love all the gear here, whether it’s cheeseburgers or more TV channels. There’s definitely more energy in America, and I don’t think it’s the size of the country or the amount of people here. It’s just that Americans have more energy. America is more my speed.”

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Peter Palmer

How does one get clearance to use a Joh Lennon photo in a video for corporate resale?


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