John Lennon famously began his life in working-class Liverpool. Just as famously, he lost it in every-class New York. This edition of American Masters
explores the nine years he spent in the United States, counting the recording of 1973's Mind Games
in Los Angeles during his infamous lost weekend. Director Michael Epstein compiles his words with new interviews, photographs, home movies, and performances (including studio outtakes). In 1971, Lennon and Yoko Ono sought to escape the hostility of the London press and reinvent themselves, so they moved to the Big Apple, where they hobnobbed with Andy Warhol and Abbie Hoffman. Former senator Tom Hayden talks about their efforts on behalf of the antiwar movement and how that caught the attention of the Feds who tried to deport them, while musicians recall the making of albums like 1974's Walls and Bridges
. Ono remembers Lennon's househusband days with fondness, even if she still seems hurt when describing the night he slept with another woman (Lennon nemesis Richard Nixon had just won the presidency). In the end, he found the happiness he sought, even if it didn't last. Other speakers include photographer Bob Gruen, talk show host Dick Cavett, Double Fantasy
producer Jack Douglas, and Elton John, Lennon's duet partner on the chart-topper "Whatever Gets You Through the Night." LennoNYC
, which takes an even-handed look at an enormously talented human being, duplicates events that appear in other films, like Imagine
, but there's enough vital material here to please fans old and new alike. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
LENNONYC is the story of one of the most famous and influential artists of the Twentieth Century, and how he found redemption not in the public adoration he craved as a youth, but in the quiet and simple pleasures of fatherhood. And, though he wasn't a typical immigrant, his story is certainly an immigrant's tale. Lennon came to New York City in 1971, seeking what every other immigrant who has washed up on its shores has sought: freedom-the freedom to be himself and not 'Beatle John,' the freedom to love without the overwhelming public scorn he and Yoko had suffered in London, and, simply, the freedom to live a normal life.
LENNONYC tells this story with never before-released in-studio recordings, concert film only recently transferred to HD, and a trove of Lennon/Ono compositions-some in versions previously unheard. It also contains interviews with those closest to Lennon during this period in his life-friend and photographer, Bob Gruen; musical collaborator and drummer, Jim Keltner; May Pang, Lennon's companion during his 'lost weekend;'rock superstar, Elton John; and Jack Douglas, the producer of Double Fantasy. LENNONYC also contains one of the most powerful and emotionally direct interviews Yoko Ono has ever given. No film about John Lennon has ever covered this story with the same breadth and depth as LENNONYC.
As the public turns its attention to what would have been Lennon's 70th birthday and the 30th anniversary of his murder LENNONYC uniquely commemorates the life of one of the most important and influential artists of the Twentieth Century-someone whose life and work is as powerful and relevant today as it has ever been