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Beatles Rarity Of The Week – “Imagine” (Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, 1972)

Posted by on June 25, 2012 at 6:00 am.

Welcome to The Beatles Rarity Of The Week. As with the BROWs over the last couple of weeks, this one is focused on another television appearance subsequent to the Beatles break up. On Labor Day weekend 1972, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were musical guests on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. The telethon, a charity event for muscular dystrophy has been around since the fifties and was hosted by comedian Jerry Lewis from 1966 – 2010. As John’s latest commercial release, the double LP Some Time In New York City had recently “flopped” on the U.S. Billboard album chart, he decided to reach back earlier in his catalog for his telethon performances choosing both “Imagine” and “Give Peace A Chance.” Between these two selection Yoko performed her new composition “Now Or Never” due for release on her upcoming double LP Approximately Infinite Universe released in January 1973. John and Yoko are backed by their recent partnership-band Elephants Memory for all three songs and “Give Peace A Chance” is a jam version similar to the one we hear on the One To One Concert of only six days earlier and available on the CD/LP/Video John Lennon Live In New York City. The conclusion of “Give Peace and Chance” and Jerry Lewis’ closing remarks, thanking John and Yoko for their appearance, can be heard on the John Lennon Anthology CD box set, however no complete account of any of these performances has been released commercially. In honor of a recent request I received, I am featuring John’s opening performance of “Imagine” from this television broadcast recorded directly from a television set in 1972.

John Lennon - Imagine (Jerry Lewis MDA telethon)

John Lennon & Yoko Ono at Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, September 1972

John Lennon & Yoko Ono at Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, September 1972

Extra info: The Elephants Memory lineup included Stan Bronstein on sax, Richard Frank Jr. on drums, Wayne “Tex” Gabriel on lead guitar, Adam Ippolito on piano and Gary Von Scyoc on bass.

Special thanks go out to Steve Lewis from Ann Arbor, Michigan for requesting this week’s BROW.

Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase, some music related to this post:

1) Power To The People: The Hits – 2010 John Lennon hits collection including “Imagine,” “Give Peace A Chance,” and much more.

2) John Lennon Anthology – 1998 4-CD box set featuring snippet from Jerry Lewis Telethon and alternate performances of “Imagine,” “Give Peace A Chance,” and other John Lennon greats.

3) Imagine – 2010 remaster of original 1971 LP featuring the title track “Imagine.”

4) Live in NYC – John Lennon live charity performance from August 30, 1972 including “Imagine” and “Give Peace A Chance” performed with Elephant’s Memory.

5) More Amazon links for any of your favorite Beatles-related music: The Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

19 people think this is FAB!

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Want to make a suggestion for a future Beatles Rarity of the Week? If so, I will do my best to deliver, so let me hear from you. To browse for ideas, check out this search-able listing of 10,130 Beatle-related recordings to choose from. Then let me hear from you here.


  • elliottmarx says:

    What a great version of this song. Unlike many, I never felt that Imagine was John’s solo masterpiece, but I’ve come to terms that others do. This version is loose and nicely rhythmic. I especially like the funky sound of the electric piano (possibly a Rhodes) in place of the more stately acoustic that is often used. The saxophone interplay breaks that general timbral monotony that I think plagues many other versions. It is hard to believe that this was recorded from a television in 1972. That was some mighty good equipment!Thanks for sharing and allowing me to hear Imagine with open ears once again.  

    • jaggerandrea says:

       @elliottmarx Wow, you said it well, Elliott!  I too always liked Imagine but never thought it was his finest…..I rather like this version even more with the sax! :)

  • BrandtHardin says:

    Imagine an entire world living in peace… John saw the beauty and inherent good in humanity.  I tried to do his legacy justice and channel his world-embracing and loving energy this week with a tribute portrait inspired by his music and his passion for changing the world.  You can see this new work of art in memoriam on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/12/john-lennon-just-imagine.html along with some pictures showing how I created it.  See John holding the Universe in his hand and spreading his message.  When you stop by, let me know how his words and music have affected your life and creativity!

  • happynat says:

    My pleasure Elliott. it is good to hear a different arrangement every now and then.

  • jaggerandrea says:

    They fit no patterns, meet no standards….(except standards of excellence)..I wonder if that was improvised by Jerry.  This must have been awesome to see on that telethon. 

  • Troy Martin says:

    I saw this live.

  • Clare says:

    Imagine- FAB AND THANKS SO MUCH. — But why False Ears on Paul in May 1968? Fun? Routine PlasSurg at 25? Now there are 21 screen shots posted at http://youcanknowsometimes.blogspot.ca/2013/03/off-topic-new-paul-is-dead-clue-from.html: shadow line consistently thru lower ear & tragus.

    Source is Larry King interview with John & Sir Paul, May 1968. Two copies on Youtube since 2010.

    Why the falsies?

    • Happy Nat says:

      Oh, Clare… What am I going to do with you?! Charlie Manson also had some valid points in his White Album interpretations.

      • Clare Kuehn says:

        This is not interpretation of symbols.

        The man is wearing false ears from at least 68 (and in fact, can be seen earlier, but not clearly).


        Falsies are there.
        No interpretation for the simple fact.

        http://youcanknowsometimes.blogspot.ca/2013/03/off-topic-new-paul-is-dead-clue-from.html: shadow line consistently thru lower ear & tragus.

        Source is Larry King interview with John & Sir Paul, May 1968. Two copies on Youtube since 2010.

        Why the falsies?

        21 screen shots.
        And this is only one example, but it’s the most replicable: many video shots, not one photo at a time, where people claim each one is faked.


        As to the drawing, it is clearly completely out of character and gory and poignant and privately given.

        But neither is absolute proof. The absolute forensics are there. I also see the difference visually, though you don’t. THAT can’t be properly described. But the forensics are there.


        So just start with the false ears. Why?
        Radical plastic surgery at age 25 (May 1968) and onward?
        For fun?
        For “the hoax” never noticed?

        Or as the forensics bear out and something which many can see, many cannot: he’s different. A great fellow, and similar especially in ’68 when they got his filler right finally, but different bone structure. Anyway …

        Falsies are there.
        No interpretation for the simple fact.

        Love to you.

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