Hear How John Lennon Described The Beatles' Craziest Era Of Partying

By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta

February 2, 2022

John Lennon In London
Photo: Redferns

The four Beatles are generally regarded by people who knew them as kind, good-hearted people. But the band's wholesome image during its 1960s zenith was largely the creation of shrewd publicists and the members' individual business savvy.

John, Paul, George and Ringo were wealthy, mega-famous rockstars by the time they hit their mid-20s, and they did plenty of celebrating along the way.

Longtime Elton John guitarist Davey Johnstone got a brief window into the Beatles' rather ... adult ... pre-show routine minutes before taking the stage with John Lennon at Madison Square Garden in 1974 — Lennon's final live performance.

"It was comical because John was so nervous, obviously ... since The Beatles, he hadn't played a show; he was incredibly nervous," Johnstone recalled. "He came into the tune-up room where I was doing Dee [Murray's] bass and all my guitars and stuff. And he brought his guitar ... and he said, 'Davey, will you tune me guitar. I can't even think straight right now.'

"So I took it and I'm tuning his guitar and I'm looking at him — he is actually green. He was a pale shade of green 'cause he was so scared and so nervous. I said, 'John, are you okay?' He went, 'Yeah ... how long till we go on?' I said, 'About 15 minutes.' He said, 'Oh, we used to get a bit of fanny 'round about now.' (Laughs) That was the famous line that I have told other musicians. They go, 'Are you kidding? He actually said that?' ... So I said, 'God bless The Beatles!' Nobody rocks harder than the Beatles if you're telling me that."

While Lennon never toured as a solo artist, he and Yoko Ono performed at a benefit concert at The Garden two years before the Elton John gig. It's entirely understandable he would be nervous to take the stage with the future Sir Elton John and his band after so much time away from the stage.

As for the 15 minutes thing... it's not a race, John.

Listen to the full conversation via the player below or here on iHeartRadio!

John LennonThe BeatlesElton John
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