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#askNat – concerning the John Lennon tour that never was and “cloud tags”

This week for #askNat I’m bringing a couple of inquiries to the table. The first is from Twitter reader Ric335 who sent me this Tweet back in October:

Looking for info on John (Lennon) and Yoko (Ono)’s world tour plans right after “Double Fantasy” was released. Thanks!

Good one Ric! John Lennon and Yoko Ono had in fact planned on a world tour for 1981 before John’s tragic assassination in December 1980. As most of us realize Double Fantasy was a comeback album for John who for the previous five years had chosen to shut out the music business entirely while staying home to care for his son Sean. But by the second half of 1980 he was set to resume his career. During September of that year around the time he was finishing up the recording of Double Fantasy at New York City’s Hit Factory, John and Yoko granted an interview to David Sheff for Playboy magazine. David asked John if he would consider touring again. John said:

“I wouldn’t have believed it a month ago. But then I thought, ‘What the hell, why not? If it’s enjoyable and if it doesn’t become something that one doesn’t want to do, ’cause it’s nice to get up and sing sometimes, like it’s nice to make music. I don’t want to get mixed up in deals and business and spin-offs and pressures, though, because I don’t need that anymore. Once was enough. But sure, I’d like to get up on stage with Yoko and a good band and play these songs, and really do ’em, because the band’s hot as shit. They just came off the album and they were all good — we’ve got the good feeling among ourselves. So it would be great. I’m just a little nervous about all that goes on around it. But I think we can probably handle it a bit better this time.”

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 1980

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 1980

After his well known U.S. immigration difficulties in the early-mid 70′s, John Lennon had been awarded a green card in 1976 which would allow him to organize a full fledged world tour without any problems over egress issues. Fred Seamon, a personal assistant to the Lennons told the press on October 9th, 1980 (John’s 40th birthday) that “next spring” John and Yoko will be touring Japan, Europe and the United States. Some sources close to the Lennons claim that John was also considering the addition of South Africa, Australia and Canada to the tour schedule.

Of course the newer material from Double Fantasy (“(Just Like) Starting Over,” “Woman,” and “Watching The Wheels’) would be included in the setlist and possibly others that are now on the posthumous Milk And Honey album (such as “Nobody Told Me”).

Double Fantasy producer Jack Douglas, who also worked as a sound engineer on John’s Imagine album, claimed in an interview that John pictured a big production tour with new arrangements of Beatles songs he felt he never got right. Yoko Ono told writer Castor Dekker that John wanted to perform “I Want To Hold Your Hand” on stage again. Of course, solo classics such as “Imagine,” “Instant Karma,” “Cold Turkey” and “Give Peace A Chance” would likely be heard along with some of John’s early rock and roll favorites like “Johnny B. Goode” or “Rip It Up.”

Earl Slick, a guitarist from the Double Fantasy sessions, who had also played on David Bowie’s “Fame” (co-written by Bowie and Lennon) in 1975, confirmed recently that John was talking more and more about touring during the sessions in August and September of 1980. Earl explained that the idea was to finish up the recording of the next album in January 1981 (what ended up on Milk And Honey) and once that was in the can, they’d begin the tour. By September, in preparation, John had already spoken with all of the primary musicians that worked on Double Fantasy about their availability after the sessions were over.

There were also plans to broadcast live, via satellite, a Madison Square Garden show from the tour to television, and possibly cinemas, around the world.

Because of all of the preparations, plans and recording going on in New York, John decided to turn down an invitation to come out to Hawaii and film an appearance and performance on the Mike Douglas Show in December of 1980. He and Yoko had co-hosted the show with Mike previously in February 1972. Ironically that same month someone from the same state came to New York to see him. Had he gone to the Mike Douglas filming in Hawaii, John would likely still be with us today. I invite you to be thinking good thoughts of John this Saturday, December 8th.

Have something to say? Please feel free to add to this in the comments section below.

Secondly I had a question from Ian Delaunay in Devon, U.K. who is sounding a little “testy” on his question:

Why is Ringo’s name in smaller print on your home page? (Hint: There is no good reason for this- it’s just wrong!)

Well Devon, it sounds like you are referring to the “tag cloud” that is located in the bottom section of the right sidebar. This gives a listing of the most frequently used “tags” (i.e. frequently used subject-oriented proper nouns) on my site. This is not anything that I type up, nor does it have anything to do with how significant I feel a particular term or group member of The Beatles actually is. In short, whatever proper nouns appear most frequently that I use as tags, show up, and the more frequently – the larger the font. There are many tags that don’t even get in the cloud because they are not used frequently enough. The ones that do appear at all are used very frequently (like “Ringo Starr”). Since Ringo has not composed as many songs, or performed as many lead vocals, or have as big of a solo catalog, or as many television appearances, or whatever, as say, Paul McCartney, his tag is not used in the site quite as frequently. Keep in mind that TheBeatlesRarity.com covers all of the album releases, events, etc. as they happen and therefore Ringo’s font in the cloud tag is smaller than Paul’s. I only use the Ringo-Paul analogy as an example here to illustrate my point. So whenever Ringo starts putting out more albums or making more television appearances than Paul or have more album releases than The Beatles have had lately, then his name will be bigger because I will be covering this on the site. It’s all based on frequency of word usage only. Many of you already know this but for those that didn’t, the explanation is now in print. Thanks, Ian for a great question.

Have something to add? Please feel free to add to this in the comments section below. Thanks again, everyone for reading this week’s #askNat double feature!

Thank you to everyone who has sent in their questions! Keep #askNat going by sending your questions to me in any of the following ways:

1) There is a designated form that you fill out right on the website where you can give your name, location, email address and submit your question. The form is right here and is the same form used to submit requests for BROWs (Beatles Rarity Of The Weeks), but modfied to do both BROW requests and #askNat questions.

2) If you are a Facebook user, you can submit your question right on TheBeatlesRarity FB wall at www.facebook.com/beatlesrarity. If you think about it, try to remember to flag your question with “#askNat”.

3) Similarly, if you are a Google+ user, you can submit your question on TheBeatlesRarity Google+ page at www.gplus.to/beatlesrarity. Google+ supports hashtag searchability so it will be helpful if you preface your question with “#askNat” here too.

4) For you Twitter users, www.twitter.com/beatlesrarity gets you to the right place. Post your question and be sure to add “#askNat” somewhere in the tweet.

Beatles-related music makes great gifts for the holidays. Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase, some music related to this post:

1) Double Fantasy – remaster of original 1980 LP by John & Yoko, including “(Just Like Starting Over,” “Woman” and “Watching The Wheels.”

2) Double Fantasy Stripped Down [New Mix + Original Recording Remastered] – 2010 stripped down version of 1980 Double Fantasy LP by John & Yoko, including “(Just Like Starting Over,” “Woman” and “Watching The Wheels.”

3) Milk And Honey – 2010 remaster of original 1984 LP by John Lennon & Yoko Ono (some of their last recordings together) including “Nobody Told Me.”

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

11 people think this is FAB!

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  • Elliott Marx says:

    I would have been too young to attend a Lennon/Ono concert in 1981. Double Fantasy is a wonderfully polished and professional sounding album. The band is tighter than any that John had previously worked with and the performances are focused. It is hard to imagine what John would have sounded like with that band on stage. The Live Peace Toronto band is woefully under-rehearsed and sloppy, and while Elephant’s Memory had some cohesion, the one released film from that show suffers from a horrible mix (with too much constant playing from everyone.) John too seemed off that night, it appears to me that he is rather nervous. He seems to struggle having to sing song after song.

    Perhaps a tight, fully rehearsed band would have intimidated Lennon. Plus the repetitive rigors of touring, seem anathema to John’s mercurial, spontaneous spirit. I wish John had the chance to tour in 1981. But, I bet he wouldn’t have enjoyed the experience.

    2013 should be the year of Ringo! That way he could get the large name he deserves.

    • Happy Nat says:

      I disagree Elliott. Just based on the info in this posting he was in the right mindset for it and with John that’s all it takes. I would’ve loved to have seen him then.

  • Elliott Marx says:

    I do believe that John would have been excellent with a well rehearsed band. As a community we suffer because that tour and recordings from it don’t exist. But John was not very disciplined, and I personally don’t think he possessed the “road warrior” element. I believe the jet-stage-hotel-repeat cycle would have quickly become tedious for him. Who knows?

    Today being 12/8 reminds me that anything would have been better than what fate deigned.

  • Kurt Valenta says:

    Great insights here. I never knew about the Mike Douglass offer to go to Hawaii. Ugh… Wish they would have done that show. As for the “I want to Hold Your Hand” sung live in concert, didn’t John mention in the Playboy interview his desire to rerecord a number of Beatle classics he never felt truly happy with? I recall him wanting to definitely try rerecording “Strawberry Fields Forever”… a song he always felt was never quite right despite the many hours dedicated to its’ creation.

    I definitely disagree with Mr. Marx comment. As for John not being a “road warrior” … He was one fourth of the greatest road warrior band of all-time. John paid his dues touring as a Beatle…, Um, lets see he toured Liverpool, Hamburg, UK, US, Europe, Japan — and the planet Earth — for almost 6 straight unforgiving years! Yes, John Lennon was a road warrior. Also, given even in the 1980′s, all the advances in live music production it would have seemed like a world vacation tour compared to what John endured in his ground breaking road warrior era of the early 1960′s.

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