On Thursday, November 28, 1974, John Lennon faced a Rock audience for the last time.
That night (Thanksgiving), John appeared on stage with the Elton John Band at New York's Madison Square Garden. Together, they performed three numbers:
Whatever Gets You Thru The Night (John's recent U.S. number 1, featuring Elton on backing vocals and piano);
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (a Lennon/McCartney song, recently re-recorded by Elton (and featuring John), and his then-current U.S. number 1);
I Saw Her Standing There (another Lennon/McCartney song).
John, who'd been averse to live performance since The Beatles' final show in August '66, had made a deal with Elton months earlier: "If Whatever hits number 1, OK, I'll appear at the Garden with ya". To Lennon's apparent astonishment, his single made it to the top spot...
According to the recollections of those who were there that night, there were rumours and whispers of a Lennon appearance, but nothing was announced publicly.
While the entire Thanksgiving concert was professionally recorded (and subsequently released as Elton's Here and There album), the historic event wasn't filmed. However, one enterprising young fellow managed to film parts of (minus sound) on his Super-8 movie camera. In 2011, that footage was finally made public:
Here are the recollections of the camera-man:
"This gets much better once the lights come up.
I was 18 and a rank amateur when I filmed this. It was taken with a Super 8 movie camera whilst dancing on my chair, and trying not to fall off. When I stood still for a moment, the Garden was actually bouncing!
When Lennon came on stage it was pure magic. Best Concert Ever.
This is it, just as I filmed it. I was basically going for Elton theatrics, as Super 8’s didn’t record sound. But when Lennon appeared and confirmed the rumors, well, I was just glad I blew all my $ on that camera:)
We were right side orchestra, 12th row, across from Yoko.
Back then you could wait in line for tickets, and we went into the city the night before the sale. At 2AM they opened the windows and we walked away with that entire row.
As I remember (we’re going back 37 years here) the super 8 reels were only about 4 minutes, and I honestly don’t remember how many I took. I do know I spliced them together into one reel.
It really was the best concert. I never experienced that much joy at a show before or since. Over the years, whenever I see one of the friends whom I was with that evening, the first thing he says is ‘Man that was a good concert…'”
When creating Elton - Out Of The Closet®, producer Jason Paris felt it was essential that the core of the show be based on this iconic MSG performance: Elton at the peak of his compositional and performance abilities, at the peak of his fame, wearing extraordinary costumes, and featuring a cameo from the most fascinating member of the world's best-loved band.
It doesn't get any better...