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On this day: 16 November, 1974:  John Lennon attended the New York City production of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the Road.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the Road was a 1974 off-Broadway production directed by Tom O’Horgan. It opened at the Beacon Theatre in New York on November 17, 1974 and ran for a total of 66 performances.

The plot tells of a Candide-like rock music singer, Billy Shears, who marries Strawberry Fields. Billy loses her to death, and his own integrity to Maxwell’s Silver Hammermen, Jack, Sledge and Claw, dressed in chain mail and representing the Hells Angels of the commercial music business. Billy’s bête noire is a temptress named Lucy.

Among the original cast were Ted Neeley as Billy Shears and Alaina Reed as Lucy. David Patrick Kelly played Sgt.Pepper.

The musical would later be loosely adapted into the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band film.

John Lennon attended several rehearsals and the Opening Night performance with May Pang. It was caught on film in the original promo video for “Whatever Gets You Through The Night”. Yoko Ono also attended the performance.



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A tooth belonging to John Lennon is to go on show at a Bristol dental studio, or at least part of it is.

The musician’s tooth was bought at auction for £19,000 by Michael Duk – an author, dentist and obsessive collector of celebrity teeth who is also the proud owner of one of Elvis Presley’s crowns.

The tooth had been in the family of Lennon’s former housekeeper Dot Jarlett. John gave it to her to dispose of, sometime between 1964 and 1968, but then suggested she keep the tooth to give to her daughter, a big Beatles fan, citing it may be worth something one day. She recently had to sell the tooth to pay for a family member’s operation.

Omega Auction House, which listed the item, told that because it was coming from Jarlett, they didn’t doubt the tooth’s authenticity.
Part of the tooth has been turned into a DNA necklace by famous Beverley Hills jewellery designer Ari Soffer and is valued at $25,000. Clifton Dental’s Dr Neil Gerrard has borrowed the ‘John Lennon DNA Tooth Necklace’ to highlight Mouth Cancer, and will be providing free mouth cancer screenings on November 21. People will also be able to wear the ‘tooth’ necklace and have their picture taken.

Dr Neil Gerrard said: “We are holding this event to offer Bristol people a chance to diagnose mouth cancer to catch it early rather than late.“But it will be a fun day, you even get to wear John Lennon’s tooth around your neck and have a picture taken too.”“With around 7,800 Brits diagnosed with mouth cancer last year, the disease is one of the UK’s fastest increasing cancers, with cases rising by a third in the last decade alone.


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The exhibition was held at the Indica Gallery, in the basement of the Indica Bookshop in Mason’s Yard, just off Duke Street in Mayfair, London. The Indica was co-owned by John Dunbar, Peter Asher and Barry Miles, and was supported in its early years by Paul McCartney.

John Lennon said:

“There was a sort of underground clique in London; John Dunbar, who was married to Marianne Faithfull, had an art gallery in London called Indica, and I’d been going around to galleries a bit on me off days in between records, also to a few exhibitions in different galleries that showed sort of unknown artists or underground artists.

I got the word that this amazing woman was putting on a show the next week, something about people in bags, in black bags, and it was going to be a bit of a happening and all that. So I went to a preview the night before it opened. I went in – she didn’t know who I was or anything – and I was wandering around. There were a couple of artsy-type students who had been helping, lying around there in the gallery, and I was looking at it and was astounded. There was an apple on sale there for two hundred quid; I thought it was fantastic – I got the humor in her work immediately. I didn’t have to have much knowledge about avant-garde or underground art, the humor got me straightaway. There was a fresh apple on a stand – this was before Apple – and it was two hundred quid to watch the apple decompose. But there was another piece that really decided me for-or-against the artist: a ladder which led to a painting which was hung on the ceiling. It looked like a black canvas with a chain with a spyglass hanging on the end of it. This was near the door when you went in. I climbed the ladder, you look through the spyglass and in tiny little letters it says ‘yes’. So it was positive. I felt relieved. It’s a great relief when you get up the ladder and you look through the spyglass and it doesn’t say ‘no’ or ‘fuck you’ or something, it said ‘yes’.

I was very impressed and John Dunbar introduced us – neither of us knew who the hell we were, she didn’t know who I was, she’d only heard of Ringo, I think, it means apple in Japanese.

And Dunbar had sort of been hustling her, saying, ‘That’s a good patron, you must go and talk to him or do something.’ John Dunbar insisted she say hello to the millionaire. And she came up and handed me a card which said ‘breathe’ on it, one of her instructions, so I just went [pant]. This was our meeting.


Then I went up to this thing that said, ‘Hammer a nail in.’ I said, ‘Can I hammer a nail in?’ and she said no, because the gallery was actually opening the next day. So the owner, Dunbar, says, ‘Let him hammer a nail in.’ It was, ‘He’s a millionaire.

He might buy it,’ you know. She’s more interested in it looking nice and pretty and white for the opening. That’s why she never made any money on the stuff; she’s always too busy protecting it!


So there was this little conference and she finally said, ‘OK, you can hammer a nail in for five shillings.’

So smart-ass here says, ‘Well, I’ll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in.’ And that’s when we really met. That’s when we locked eyes and she got it and I got it and that was it.”



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Fans of The Beatles can now take a trip through the childhood sanctuary of John Lennon that inspired the song Strawberry Fields Forever, with the former children’s home in Liverpool, England, now open to the public.
John used to climb over the fence from his aunt’s house, where he grew up, and play with other kids at the Strawberry Field orphanage.

Around 60,000 fans flock each year to the site to have their photos taken outside the famous red gates, but until now have never been allowed beyond.
“The gates are open for good,” said Major Allister Versfeld, mission development officer of the Salvation Army charity. “This is a unique opportunity for people to come and explore the garden … and just enjoy what many have said; there’s a real sense of calm and peace.”
The site, in the city’s Woolton neighbourhood, was a Salvation Army children’s home up until 2005 when it became derelict. But it’s been turned into a centre to help youths aged 18 to 25 with learning disabilities find employment, partly funded by opening its doors.
“We’ve got the visitor exhibition, which tells the story of the Salvation Army, the children’s home, and that connection with Lennon,” said Versfeld. “We’ve got a cafe, retail space, and wonderful gardens for people to explore. All the money raised stays at Strawberry Field and used for our steps-to-work programme.”
John was brought up by his aunt, even though his mum Julia lived nearby until she died in a car accident. Strawberry Field became a place where he could meet other kids and also contemplate, Versfeld added.
“He came to play with the children and observe what was going on,” Versfeld said. “He found some sanctuary, peace and calm here. That song, many would look at the lyrics and wonder what was going on, but I think that was a space that he found and a place that was special to him.”
The original gates went off site a few years ago, but have now been returned.
Meanwhile, Lennon’s lyric, “It doesn’t matter much to me”, is written on the walls of the exhibition, contrasting with the cafe where the words “It matters to us” are displayed above videos showing the work of the charity organisation.
The show takes visitors on a historical trip through Strawberry Field and displays exhibits documenting Lennon’s early life. In addition, Graceland has loaned artefacts to recognise Lennon’s love for Elvis Presley, while other items include a handwritten draft of the song and a photo-mosaic of John’s face.
The song was released in 1967 as a double A-side single with Penny Lane, hitting No.2 on the UK chart behind Engelbert Humperdinck’s Release Me. Lennon wrote it while filming in Spain, and it was the first track recorded for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, although it’s not on the final album.
The psychedelic tune is recognised as the point that the 1960s band moved away from straight pop to a more complex sound, incorporating unusual instruments including the “Mellotron” and an Indian swarmandal.



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On this day 30 October,1974: Bob Gruen photographed John Lennon in front of the Statue of Liberty.
Gruen recalls proposing the idea of the Statue of Liberty portrait during a recording session for “Rock n’ Roll,” John’s album of oldies covers. Gruen’s intention for this photo was not commercial; he intended the shot to spark deeper support for Lennon. “To me, the case was urgently important,” Gruen says.John liked the idea immediately. Returning from the studio on Oct. 29, Gruen dropped Lennon off at his apartment. Lennon told him, “See you tomorrow. Bring your eyes.”

Gruen, who photographed John from 1971-1980, described the musician as “very amazing, very charismatic, very grounded, a lot of fun to be with.”
He also got to witness Lennon as a father; Lennon spent five years as a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his son, Sean.

Gruen said Lennon was “very attentive and very caring and very involved” in Sean’s life. He made less music in those years because caring for his young son was much more important to him, Gruen recalled.

Gruen, a Manhattan-based photographer, has worked with countless music icons, from Elvis to Madonna to Bob Marley. But some of Gruen’s most famous photos are of Lennon in New York City.


In one series of photos from 1974, Lennon posed on the roof of his apartment in a sleeveless New York City T-shirt that Gruen had bought for him a year earlier on the street for just $5.

Gruen also photographed Lennon at the Statue of Liberty amid a deportation battle between Lennon and the U.S. government in 1974. More than 40 years later, that image of Lennon flashing the peace sign in front of Lady Liberty remains one of the most iconic photos ever taken of the beloved Beatle.

Gruen said that he doesn’t have one favorite memory from his time spent with Lennon, but said that their photo shoot at the Statue of Liberty “was a very special day.” “But,” he continued, “they were all very special.”
Gruen recalled how he had taken photos of Lennon in 1980. “I was actually in the dark room developing those pictures when I got a phone call,” he said.


John, who lived in the Dakota from 1973 until 1980, liked to spend his time at La Fortuna, a now-shuttered nearby cafe, Gruen said. He also enjoyed walking through Central Park.
“He liked being in New York for the same reason everybody else does. You have a lot of freedom in New York, and you have some of the best restaurants, theater, art, museums, life … New York just attracts a tremendous amount of talent,” Gruen said. He added that New York allowed Lennon a lot of anonymity; people didn’t bother him or chase him down the block for an autograph, Gruen explained.
“You know, New Yorkers have a very live-and-let-live attitude, and I think he certainly enjoyed that,” he said.
“I don’t think he realized just how far his message went.”


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Fans will no longer have to peer through the gates – the Salvation Army garden immortalised by John Lennon is opening for the first time, with an interactive exhibition

“Let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields” urged John Lennon in 1967. Now, for the first time, everyone will be able to walk in his footsteps, when the gardens immortalised in the classic Beatles song are opened to the public on 14 September, alongside a new visitors’ centre, cafe and shop.

Housed in a sleek, modern, light-filled building, it is a stark contrast to the original Gothic mansion that stood there when Lennon was a young boy and would bunk over the wall to climb trees and play hide-and-seek in its garden. Built in 1878 for a shipping magnate in the wealthy Liverpool suburb of Woolton (the family of prime minister William Gladstone lived nearby, in another long-gone pile) it was bought by the Salvation Army in 1934 and turned into a children’s home.

Lennon lived round the corner with his Uncle George and Aunt Mimi, and as well as sneaking into the garden with friends, he loved the summer fete held at Strawberry Field (in the singular, Lennon added the “s”). His aunt once recalled: “As soon as we could hear the Salvation Army band starting, John would jump up and down shouting, ‘Mimi, come on. We’re going to be late!’”

Years later, Lennon took this nostalgic post-war memory of summer tea parties and brass bands and, through the prism of psychedelia and LSD, used it as the inspiration for one of the most groundbreaking songs of the 1960s. The Beatles spent a then unheard-of 55 hours of studio time on the record, creating what Time magazine called a song of “astonishing inventiveness”, adding, the band “have bridged the heretofore impassable gap between rock and classical, mixing elements of Bach, Oriental and electronic music with vintage twang to achieve the most compellingly original sounds ever heard in pop music.”

The old house was demolished six years after the song’s release, and replaced by a smaller children’s home, which closed for good in 2005. But the locked gates didn’t deter Beatles fans turning up to peek through at the overgrown Strawberry Field – the Liverpool tourist board estimated that about 60,000 visitors did so last year.

Owned and run by the Salvation Army, the attraction gives fans access to the last major missing piece in the Beatles jigsaw: the band has been so forensically analysed – with books chronicling every day of their existence and every note of music. Income generated from the exhibition will fund the charity’s Steps to Work programme, which helps young people with learning disabilities find employment through training, mentoring and work experience.

The interactive exhibition (adults £12.95, concessions £8, family of 3+2 £35) explores the history of both the Salvation Army and Lennon’s life, focusing on his childhood and the writing and recording of Strawberry Fields through archival footage, multimedia and interviews with Paul McCartney, George Martin and Julia Baird, his younger half-sister and president of the project. The most fun feature is the virtual Mellotron that teaches visitors to play the song’s unmistakable opening notes. Another star attraction is the set of iconic wrought-iron red gates – or rather, both sets. The originals were stolen in 2000 but when the crime made the news the thieves realised what they had on their hands and dumped the gates at a local scrap metal merchant, who returned them the following day. Kept in storage ever since, they will now sit in a quiet corner of the garden, while the heavily-graffitied replicas – the site of a million selfies – will remain in place on the road at the former entrance.

The smart red-and-white cafe and landscaped gardens are free to enter, the latter designed to encourage meditation and spiritual reflection. The trees Lennon may once have climbed are still here, and in a clever touch, sections of the original mansion walls and steps (made from the same local red sandstone as Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral) are scattered around the garden, to be used as benches.

Lennon’s sister, Julia Baird, 72, who is honorary president of the Strawberry Field project, said the grounds of the home had been a “sanctuary” for the musician as a youngster.She said: “I suppose as children we all have somewhere that’s a bit ours, a bit special. It might be a little hidey-hole under the stairs or it might be up an oak tree but it’s somewhere we take ourselves. It seems from the song that this was John’s special place.”“The first time I visited John in New York I was struck just how closely his gothic Dakota Apartment building resembled the old Strawberry Field mansion. Perhaps he was searching for another sanctuary.”