Welcome to the Beatles Rarity of the Week. In 1972, WABC-TV reporter Geraldo Rivera won the Peabody Award for his report on the neglect and abuse of mentally disabled children at the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island. The recognition quickly had him appearing on news programs such as Nightline and 20/20. John Lennon, after catching Rivera’s report, became concerned about the patients at Willowbrook and teamed up with him to organize a benefit concert to raise money for the children.
John planned a performance with himself and Yoko Ono backed by Elephants Memory who had also backed them on their previous release, the double-LP Some Time In New York City. He also recruited other performers to include Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack, Melanie Safka and Sha-Na-Na. The event, billed as One To One, was held at New York’s Madison Square Garden on August 30th, 1972 and was actually two concerts – an afternoon and evening show. It was John’s first full-length concert since the breakup of The Beatles. Unfortunately it was also to be his last.
After John’s death, Yoko Ono’s supervised the production of a live John Lennon album assembled from some of the performances from the One To One concerts. It was released in January of 1986 under the title John Lennon Live In New York City. Most of the tracks used come from John’s previously released three albums – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Imagine and Some Time In New York City. Also included are a couple of covers to include The Beatles track “Come Together” along with a performance of Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog.” Two of John’s singles – “Instant Karma (We All Shine On)” and “Give Peace A Chance” are also presented. By December 1989, a VHS tape of the event was released, which adds Yoko’s performances of “Born In A Prison” and “Sisters, O Sisters” to the already used John Lennon songs on the album.
The performances on the album and home video releases are all from the afternoon show except for “Give Peace A Chance” which was an edited account of the evening show’s performance. Former members of Elephants Memory later criticized Yoko for this, stating that the evening show had the stronger performances. “It’s So Hard,” “Woman Is The Nigger Of The World” and “Come Together” from the evening show were released as part of the John Lennon Anthology box set in 1998.
For this week’s BROW, I’ve rounded up another recording from the evening show that has not presently seen an official release. John Lennon’s “Mother” was the opening track for his 1970 John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band LP and an edited version was also released as an Apple single in the U.S. The song is actually a cry to both of his parents who abandoned him in childhood. His father left when John was an infant and his mother, who didn’t actually live with him, was killed after being hit in a car accident by a drunk off-duty policeman when he was 17 years old.
John Lennon/Elephants Memory - Mother
Beatles music/literature makes great gifts for the holiday season. Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase, some music related to this post:
1) John Lennon Live in New York City – 1986 CD (or vinyl) edition including (mostly) afternoon show at Madison Square Gardens One To One benefit concert. Includes “Mother.”
2) John Lennon Anthology – 1998 4-CD box set with three performances from evening show of One To One concert – “It’s So Hard,” “Woman Is The Nigger Of The World” and “Come Together.”
3) John Lennon: Live in New York City [VHS] – 1989 VHS release featuring (mostly) afternoon show at Madison Square Gardens One To One benefit concert. Includes “Mother.”