Excerpt: 'The Last Days of Dead Celebrities'

"By this time he had also given up any kind of drug use," said Mintz. "He was very clear, very in-tune. He would divide his conversations between what was going on with the music, what was going on at the house, and what was going on in the political world. Whatever occurred on the news he would want me to pay attention. He also told me he didn't feel tired anymore. There was a long period of time that he complained of lethargy and weariness. But in these few conversations he was all upbeat."

On Thursday night, December 4, Bob Gruen met Lennon at the Record Plant, on West Forty-fourth Street, where he was mixing Yoko's single "Walking on Thin Ice." The song had been hastily recorded after Double Fantasy was completed.

"They did all their mixing at the Record Plant," said Gruen. "I took a number of pictures of John and Yoko around the studio that night. They posed in front of an eight-foot-tall guitar that John had fabricated for an avant-garde festival. It was too big for them to take home, so they ended up loaning it to the Record Plant for a while. I knew he had made it, so I wanted them posing in front of it.

"Then he told me about this coat he had at home, this fancy gold and red braided jacket with Japanese writing on it," said Gruen. "He wanted me to shoot pictures of him wearing this coat, so we made another plan for me to come back the next night, and I did." While Yoko spent most of Friday night, December 5, putting various vocal effects on her single, Gruen sat with Lennon on the floor of the Record Plant and talked.

"For a long time we talked about the future," said Gruen. "He was very excited that he had come back, and very excited about what Yoko had managed to do on the album. He was really amused by the fact that she was getting great reviews and that her music was being called new and interesting, as opposed to his music, which some critics called a bit tamer and middle of the road. He was very excited about that because he really liked Yoko's influence. He also talked about taking a couple of weeks off for the holidays, and then he wanted to start rehearsing with a band and record some videos by the end of January. He estimated that they'd probably be performing live by March. He even talked about the possibility of doing concerts in Japan. We both had a common interest in Japan. We were talking about places where we were going to go shopping, and restaurants where we were going to eat."

It was dawn on Saturday, December 6, by the time Yoko finished her work in the studio. All during the night Lennon never put on the braided jacket, and now he was carrying it over his arm as he walked outside with Yoko and Gruen.

"It must have been six or seven in the morning when we got outside," said Gruen. "I asked John if we could take the pictures right then, and Yoko said, 'Oh, I feel tired. Let's do it another time.' "And John said to her, 'Look, you've kept him up all night. Let's take some pictures.' So he put on the jacket and I took about half a roll of pictures out on the sidewalk. A car was waiting for them. John said to me, 'See you later,' and they left."

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