Excerpt: 'The Last Days of Dead Celebrities'

From the moment they got to New York, the Lennons kept mostly to themselves and never acted like schmucks. Gone were the lavishly planned bed-ins and the flip comparisons in popularity to Jesus. Sure, they protested the Vietnam War and started hanging out with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. But by the early seventies, this was hardly considered radical behavior. As Lennon found out years earlier, when you try to force-feed anything to New York, you do so at your own peril. But ask New Yorkers, rather, to simply "Imagine," and you may get them for all time. John and Yoko asked little of New York beyond that, and in return, to paraphrase a Beatles song, New York let them be.

"He liked it when people came up and said hi," Yoko recalled of those early days in New York. "We had burnt our bridges in London. I don't think that my people, the Japanese, were thrilled with our situation- John and Yoko doing Two Virgins, John and Yoko doing bed-ins. And we didn't have many friends. A lot of them turned their backs on us. They didn't like our union. They didn't like the fact that we were so political. A lot of them still blamed me for the breakup of the Beatles. We were different, and we were hoping that New York wouldn't be put off by that."

There is no evidence anywhere remotely suggesting that New York was put off in any way by the Lennons. They were just New York's newest superstars in a town that had seen many. It's not unreasonable, therefore, to assume that Lennon might have been caught off guard by New York's "so what?" attitude toward his fame. Lennon certainly did say at the time that he needed time to get used to the city, mainly because it wasn't his idea to move there. New York had been Yoko's decision, and he went along with it. He was quoted in Giuliano's book as saying, "It was Yoko who sold me on New York. She'd been poor here and knew every inch. She made me walk around the streets, parks, squares, and examine every nook and cranny. In fact, you could say I fell in love with New York on a street corner. . . . Not only was Yoko educated here, but she spent fifteen years living in New York, so, as far as I was concerned, it was just like returning to your wife's hometown." Nevertheless, if behavior counts for anything, New York had yet to become Lennon's hometown by October 10, 1971. It was one day after his thirty-first birthday, two days after the release of his landmark solo album, Imagine, and nearly two months since their move into the St. Regis. John and Yoko were getting dressed in one of their suites, preparing to go out. At that moment, and most likely unbeknownst to them, a Jewish wedding was in full swing in the hotel's main ballroom. It was in between courses, or that time during most Jewish weddings when the bandleader picks up the tempo and coaxes guests onto the dance floor. The bride, who was nearing thirty, had one sibling, a twenty-sevenyear- old brother, and he was in no mood to dance, or even feel merry. He just sat at a table looking at his watch, hoping the time would pass quickly, counting down to the end of his sister's big day. But he knew there were still hours to go and very few choices to make. Leaving the St. Regis and going home was not an option. His mother would have killed him.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...