Since I posted Paul McCartney’s Concert for Kampuchea yesterday I thought I would concentrate on the festival John Lennon popped up at in 1969… The Toronto Rock and Roll Revival. Unlike Kampuchea which was spread out on multiple days and nights, this festival was held on one day September 13, 1969.
John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band just played fifties songs plus John’s new song that Beatles rejected…Cold Turkey. The reason for the fifties’ songs was because the band had limited time to rehearse and they wanted to do songs they all knew.
It was a great festival lineup but it’s remembered mostly by John Lennon’s participation. The Doors were the headliners and John only agreed to do it
The concert was conceived by promoters John Brower and Ken Walker with financial backing from Eaton’s department store but stymied by poor ticket sales, the venture began to lose support. The festival was almost canceled but Brower called Apple Records in the UK to ask John Lennon to emcee the concert. Lennon agreed to appear on the condition he would be allowed to perform.
The Lennons flew in from England with a makeshift band that included Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, Alan White, and Yoko. They arrived at the backstage area at about 10 p.m, while Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys were singing Good Old Rock ‘n’ Roll to an audience of about 20,000.
Lennon was quoted as saying “I threw up for hours until I went on” because it had been three years since he played live in a concert setting. The band went on and did a good job…ragged but it was a hastily assembled band with only a rehearsal on the plane ride and backstage.
John Lennon: “The ridiculous thing was that I didn’t know any of the lyrics. When we did Money and Dizzy, I just made up the words as I went along. The band was bashing it out like hell behind me. Yoko came on stage with us, but she wasn’t going to do her bit until we’d done our five songs….Then after Money there was a stop, and I turned to Eric and said, ‘What’s next?’ He didn’t know either, so I just screamed out ‘C’mon!’ and started into something else.”
Little Richard: “I remember the show that people were throwing bottles at Yoko Ono. They were throwing everything at her. Finally, she had to run off the stage. Oh, boy, it was very bad.”
John Lennon: And we tried to put it out on Capitol, and Capitol didn’t want to put it out. They said, ‘This is garbage; we’re not going to put it out with her screaming on one side and you doing this sort of live stuff. And they just refused to put it out. But we finally persuaded them that, you know, people might buy this. Of course it went gold the next day.”
John Lennon and Yoko’s setlist
- Blue Suede Shoes.
- Money (That’s What I Want)
- Dizzy Miss Lizzy.
- Yer Blues.
- Cold Turkey.
- Give Peace a Chance.
- Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)
- John John (Let’s Hope for Peace)
John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band
Junior Walker and the All Stars
Tony Joe White
Cat Mother and the All Night News Boys
Jerry Lee Lewis
Kim Fowley The Master of Ceremonies
Screaming Lord Sutch