The third part of my interview with John in 1973 which I had originally decided to split into three parts but is now four. I hadn’t actually read this for a long time and when I looked at it last week before deciding to post it I realised it was longer than I thought. It was also more interesting. John really was a great interviewee. He, Bowie and Townshend were always great to interview. All three instinctively knew how to give good copy, if that’s the right way to put it. Moon wasn’t bad either but he was a storyteller. John, David and Pete simply thought a lot about the business they were in, had forthright opinions and weren’t afraid to express them, regardless of the consequences.
While emphasising that he doesn’t mean to be insulting to England, John says he never misses home. “I don’t miss England like I didn’t miss Liverpool when The Beatles moved to London. England will always be there if I choose to go back, and when I came here originally I didn’t have a plan to stay. It just happened that way.
“I love New York. It’s the hottest city on earth. I haven’t been everywhere in the world but it’s the fastest city on earth. The difference between New York and London is the difference between London and Liverpool.
“For me New York has everything. And if I wanted to get away from it there’s always New England to visit. If I feel homesick for England, I feel homesick for Cornwall, or Ireland or Scotland where I went on holidays. When I think of England now, I think of my childhood or discotheques in London and in New England it’s very similar with the rock and the sea and that.
“I’ve got a little pad there where I can go to get away from the rush of New York, and I’ve got an apartment in the Dakota Building in New York which is the place they made the film Rosemary’s Baby.
“I also love the millions of radio stations and television channels and the piped TV movies I can get and things like that which you can’t get in England.”
John regrets that he doesn’t get out to see many artists performing, a situation that stems from being John Lennon. “I get nervous at shows. Either I have to sit in the audience and I get hassled by the crowd, or I go backstage and have to mix with the groupies and all that trip.
“Rod Stewart’s here at the moment and I wouldn’t mind seeing him. I like him. I want to see Jerry Lee Lewis, too, while he’s on here. I saw Fats Domino in Las Vegas – I seem to be catching up on the ones I never saw when I was a teenager.
“I had a ticket for The Rolling Stones on the East Coast but at the time I was in Los Angeles, so I never got to see them. I haven’t seen the Stones since the Rock and Roll Circus which was the film that never came out.
“I still prefer records. They’re the thing of the moment that matters. I like to see the artist occasionally, but some people have made one great record and I go for that record and don’t care whatever else they’ve done.
“People are saying the Stones are getting too old to appear now but that’s bullshit. Mick’ll never be past it. I saw the TV show they did over here and it was fantastic. It was a master’s performance and that’s what Mick is, a master performer.
“The English always tear into their own artists more than others, and worship Americans. Here it’s the other way around. I like a lot of the new British bands though.”
I told John that Slade had been called the new Beatles. “Hell, who wants to be the new Beatles!” he replied. “I like some of their records. They get it off. I saw them on TV here and it was all right.
“It must be so hard for them when they come here and they’re used to being treated like God in England, but I think they’ll survive. They’re a good band. They’re a singles band and I’m a singles man.
“The only reason I make albums is because you’re supposed to. I haven’t really got into somebody’s album since I was into Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins, and even then singles were always the best.
“I’d like to see The Who when they come over here, they’re like clockwork. I went to see Cheech & Chong the other night, but once is enough for them.
“That’s another thing that puts me off playing live – the fact that you’ve got to do the same thing over and over again every night, and the audience wants to hear the songs you’re associated with. I remember I sang ‘Imagine’ twice in one day when I was rehearsing it, and that bored me.
“I’ve nothing against the song, in fact I’m quite proud of it, but I just can’t go on every night singing it. I’d try and vary it, but then I don’t like to see that myself. If I go to watch an artist I’d expect to hear the things I know. I understand it from both points of view. Actually I have trouble remembering lyrics. I sang ‘Come Together’ at Madison Square Gardens for a TV show too and really I sang ‘She Got Hairy Arseholes’ instead of what it should have been, and it was never noticed.”