To celebrate John’s birthday i thought we’d enter a time machine and head back to 1980, to John’s 40th and Sean’s 5th birthday. Luckily for us the fans who were there to celebrate with John wrote about it in an old Fanzine called “With a little help from my friends”, with the help of a couple of kind readers i’ve had the article transcribed, sure wish i were back there with these fans to enjoy and experience the fun. For some reason this year more than most others i’m acutely aware of the last six months of 1980, i usually don’t mark time by aniversaries, but this year i’ve been thinking a lot about John and Yoko, maybe it’s the publicity of the remasters and “Double Fantasy Stripped Down” that has put John and Yoko at the front of my thoughts, whatever it is it sure is nice to think about them, happy birthday John, you should have had a lot more, but i’m grateful for the forty you had with us. Greg xoxo

(The above two photo’s were taken in the studio during John’s birthday, the story as told to me by someone who was in the room had John being presented with the knitted tie you see John wearing in these photo’s by Yoko, who in other photo’s of the period can be seen knitting it, John was thankfull .. but a little bumbed that the tie was the sum total of his birthday booty from Yoko, shortly after she presented him with a gift box that showed upon opening a diamond and ruby American flag brooch, priced somewhere around the $75.000 dollar mark, John instantly pinned it on himself and paraded around the studio with it, shortly after John ducked out to the shitters for a slash, upon his return someone mentioned ‘Hey John, where’s the brooch?’, John went pale and hoped Yoko hadn’t noticed, he raced back to the bathroom where he found the brooch laying on the floor next to the shitter, when he came back he posed for the photo above showing him sheepishly showing the brooch with a look of ‘Pheeew!!’ on his face.

The Dream is Not Over
Marco Mallagoli

John Lennon, as the other three ex-Beatles, was one person I always wanted to meet personally, and I had an old dream to talk to him too. This year I came to New York four times and up till this last time I’d had no luck seeing John, although I’ve tried. I’d talked with a lot of people but not with him. I’d talked with Yoko but it wasn’t the same thing as John. Now I knew his birthday was coming up and that he was making a new record after six years of silence, and I felt that something could happen if I’d try to see John again. So I planned to stay for six days in New York just to try to see John.

The first day I arrived I passed near the Dakota and saw someone that looked liked John, and when I got closer I saw it wasn’t him, but the boy really looked like John. On the second day this boy was there again, so i went to talk with him and he really resembled John, but is younger. His name is John too, and he lives in Belgium. We were talking when suddenly we saw John’s limo, and we stayed, waiting to see him. There were a lot of people there and the limo came up under the archway to the door of the Dakota. John and Yoko went straight from the doorway into the car so we couldn’t see him very well, although it was a fantastic experience. When John was leaving, Ann (Lawter, from Kentucky) shouted “Happy Birthday, John!” and he answered, “thank you!” It was the first time I’d heard his voice personally. I was so excited, but I hoped more would happen. I brought him a Brazilian record called “Os reis de ie ie ie” (in English it’d be called “The Kings of yeah yeah yeah”–that is the name of the “HDN” album there). I gave it to the doorman, because I was so disappointed I couldn’t give it to John myself, and he sent the record to John.

John went to the Hit Factory where he was recording and he just got back the next day, his birthday, but he came in and nobody saw him. The sky of New York was a crazy thing, because there were a lot of airplanes writing words like “Happy Birthday John and Sean”, “Love to John–Yoko” and things like this. They stayed writing in circles for a half hour. Sean and other people had gone to the roof of the Dakota and all the girls began to shout “We want to see John” and Sean answered that he was sleeping. Yoko came out and she told us John was so tired because he stayed more than 24 hours in the studio. Soon she went back in the building, and before too long a guy came out with a bag with flowers, some balloons and some sweets. I talked with him, and he was so polite, and he answered all the questions I had, and those of everybody else there too.

The next day i spent at the Dakota’s door and I saw John’s limo, but there was nobody there. I was with a friend of mine and I asked him to stay there with me and if we’d see John, could he take some photos. He was so excited too, and he agreed, so we stayed there waiting. After two hours John came out and as I saw him I told him, “Hi, John, I’m that guy from Brazil and…” He told me, “Hi, pleased to meet you,” and we shook hands. (Marco had been talking with one of the doormen about a record store he has in Brazil, and the doormen was so excited about the idea he mentioned it to John!–Pat.) I asked John if I could have his autograph and he told me, “for sure.” After this I asked him about going to Brazil, and he told me he’d made tour plans for Japan and Europe and he’d like to go to Brazil too. I asked him with whom I’d talk to bring him to Brazil, and he told me that I could go to his office right there. I asked if I could have a photo taken of me with him and he said yes. The photo was taken, he said goodbye and got into the limo. When the limo was pulling away he waved goodbye. I was so excited by that time. I couldn’t believe what had happened to me…

(Congrats Marco, we knew you’d meet him one day!!)

(Our friend Ann Lawter wrote out about her time in New York City this past October too and though some of it will have a few of the same details as Marco’s story, she also has gone into more details about other instances so we wanted to print her story too. Thanks to Ann for letting us print it!!)

I saw John almost every day I was there. I went up on October 6th and returned the 15th. John’s back to his old tricks., i.e., the ‘all night’ recording bit again. He goes out anywhere from 1 to 3 PM and often doesn’t return till _ or 10am the next day. Although it was pretty certain that he went out about the same time every day, he had added one factor to his departures that fans didn’t used to have to deal with: his limo, at his request, is now pulling up under the archway in front of the building. (Surprise, Ann!!–he did that last year too!–Pat.) When the limo does this, it’s about 2 steps, literally, from the door of the building to the limo door. Also it’s quite dark under the archway even on sunny days, so unless you have excellent night vision, you can’t see anything anyway. So, the great majority of my “sightings” while there were for approximately one second as he ran from the door to the car, in a dark archway. Not the best of opportunities to talk or get pictures!

On the day before John’s birthday, John left the building about 1pm. There were several fans out front. I had no idea when I arrived there that day that I’d run into fans I already knew, but I did! As I arrived, I noticed a familiar face, and realised it was a friend I had met in Chicago at this years Beatlefest! Marco’s from Brazil, but had come up again for John’s birthday. As I spoke with him, I reminded him I was from Kentucky, and a girl standing near us asked me what my name was. I told her, and she said, “I’m a penpal of yours–Cathy Ray!” You go all the way to New York, and then meet people you already know! She was there with a fellow Beatle person–Terry Klemmer. As I spoke with my three friends, I noticed a guy standing nearby, who looked breathtakingly like our hero! I said to him, “Has anybody ever told you that you look incredibly like Lennon?” He said they did, frequently, and I was not surprised. It was eerie. His name, ofcourse, turned out to be John! We all waited for about 30 minutes when here came John out of the door, and zip, into the limo. Well, that is, not before I yelled. “happy birthday, John!” He looked up and said, “Thank you!” It all happened so fast that we had no idea what he was wearing, etc. The limo took off, with a screech of tires. (Which was a bit dramatic, considering that the “mob” out front was not anywhere near attacking!) I had to go elsewhere, but the four of them took off to have lunch, and we all agreed to meet that evening out front. Before we left, I got a couple of pictures of John Colman, Lennon’s clone. I still couldn’t believe it!

That evening, I was back, now with Pam Pritchard. I was staying with Pan while In New York City. We arrived about 7pm. The whole crew was there. John Colman had brought his wife, Annemarie. We hung around all evening. They had all seen Sean go out and come back in that afternoon, so we knew Sean was in the building. But…John and Yoko had not returned. The doorman confirmed it, and also told us that it’s VERY seldom that anyone in the building ever used another entrance, besides the one where we were waiting, and that included the Lennons. So we were sure he hadn’t snuck in somehow. As the hours dragged on, the crowd dwindled. By midnight, when the guard left and locked the gates, there were about eight of us. We talked, played trivia games, etc. We just KNEW he had to be back soon, and we felt that maybe if he came back quite late and there were just a few fans, he’d have to stop and talk, because it’d be obvious that we were quite loyal, just by the virtue of the hour. Either that, or he’d be scared to death of people that were stupid enough to stand out in the cold and wind till the wee hours and he’d avoid us! None of us had come prepared for this marathon, so we hadn’t dressed for it, or brought sack lunches, etc. We were powered by sheer love for John, I think. (I know I was!)
By 5am (yup!), the group had shrunk to three people: Pam, John Colman, and me. The others had gone back to the hotel room to catch a couple hours sleep, and two other guys who’d waited had also taken off. It was just the three of us until about 9am when another fan arrived, complete with sign wishing John a happy birthday. her name was Vicky. Shortly after that, we saw Helen (one of Sean’s nannies) and Sean come walking out of the Dakota, and start down the sidewalk. I told Colman to get over there and talk to them. You see, Coleman had an ‘in’ instantly with most people out front there as he looked like Lennon. So he ran over to them and began talking. Helen and Sean both commented on Colman’s resemblance to Lennon. Sean said, “You look just like my daddy!” (If that isn’t EXPERT testimony, I don’t know what would be!) Helen said she had thought the other day when she had first seen Colman that he WAS Lennon! Colman asked if they had any idea where John and Yoko were, and Helen said “They should be upstairs asleep!” Then Colman told her we had been there all night, and they hadn’t returned. She seemed surprised, but said, “Well, we don’t go knocking on the bedroom door in the morning…they usually come out on their own.” She said she was taking Sean out for a birthday breakfast. Then they left.

For a time, we were rather concerned that we four might be the only fans out front on John’s birthday. not that I would mind having him to myself, mind you, but I felt that a public display of affection would be very nice for John’s 40th, and that John would appreciate it. Around 10:30am, things begun to pick up. By noon, there were about 50 fans out front. It was like a three-ring circus. Two girls had arrived with a huge sign made out of bedsheets, saying “Happy birthday, John Lennon”. They spread it out all along the sidewalk so that if one looked out the 72nd Street side of John’s apartment you would see it. They had brought felt tip pens for all to sign a message to John. A girl named Sandi Stewart (who you may remember as having been mentioned in the Hunter Davis biography) arrived. She’s currently writing a book called “Beatle People”, and interviewed most of the fans out front with her tape recorder and camera. At the height of all the madness, a TV film crew arrived. They spoke to the doorman and several fans, and I heard the event made the evening news in New York City, but I didn’t catch it because I was still standing out front of the Dakota! (Someone get me that footage!!, please!! Greg.)

Around noon, some of John’s staff members came out front and stood around the crowd, like they were waiting for something to happen. Sure enough, shortly thereafter, here came THE limo. It pulled way up under the archway, and in a flash, the Lennons were into the building. Most of the waiting fans didn’t see him at all. After waiting since the night before, we were a bit disappointed, but not willing to give up! We had heard some of the staff members whispering among themselves something about 2:30, but that’s all we understood.

We decided something big must be happening at 2:30, hut we couldn’t hear just what. We decided to wait, of course. (Did you doubt that we would?!) 2:30 came and went; no sign of any action. Still, we hung around. About 5PM, the most amazing thing happened. We saw skywriting in the sky over Central Park. Between the buildings all we could make out was something about “birthday” and “John”, but we knew what was happening. It took the assembled multitude of about 40 fans about 3 seconds to realize what this meant: if anyone in the building was watching this, they would be looking out of the Central Park side of the building! The whole crowd went dashing madly down the sidewalk, across the street (almost all getting killed by traffic) and into Central Park.

We all searched the windows frantically for a familiar face. After a minute, we spotted a bunch of people on the very top of the building, outside. They were rather far away, and mostly all we could see was silhouettes against the sky. We recognized Sean right away, as he’s the shortest! For a minute, we thought John was up there, but realized later it was not him. (I think it must have been Fred, John’s assistant. He also looks a lot like John.) The whole assembled multitude yelled, in unison, “Happy birthday, John!” and the crowd on top of the building waved. Then we yelled, “Happy birthday, Sean!” and above all the noise and traffic, we heard a tiny voice call back, “Thank you!” About this time, someone realized we could be heard individually, if we yelled loud enough. Someone yelled, “Where’s your daddy?” and Scan yelled back, “He’s asleep!” Someone else yelled, “Wake him up!” This went on for a while, as the skywriting continued. The plane wrote the message 9 times, someone told me. It said, “Happy birthday John and Sean, Love, Yoko”.

The group on top of the building seemed to be enjoying the group of fans as much as the skywriting, though. After a while, Sean yelled what sounded like, “Daddy’s coming down!” (Maybe that was wishful thinking on our parts.) The entire group made another mad dash across the street and back to the front of the Dakota. (Almost getting killed again in the process.) We waited anxiously; no sign of daddy. About a half hour later Yoko came dashing out of the Dakota, catching the waiting group totally off guard. She ran down the sidewalk a ways, with a few fans in pursuit. She looked at the sky and said, “It’s gone now.” Then just as quickly, she ran back thru the crowd and stepped up on the front step of the building, and turned to the crowd. She put her hands across her chest almost as if she were out of breath (which she didn’t seem to be) and said very softly, “John’s asleep right now, and won’t be coming back out today. We thank you all for coming. John is very tired; he’s been out recording all night.” Cathy Ray was standing quite close to Yoko and asked, “Yoko, several of us have gifts for John. Would you take them in to him?” She hesitated, then said, “No, we’ll get the gifts later.” About that time, John’s business manager, Richard DePalma, came out and literally grabbed Yoko by the arm and said, “C’mon, Yoko.” He pulled her inside. I didn’t understand this. Granted, the atmosphere was so thick you could cut it with a knife, but I don’t think anyone was about to attack her. Now JOHN was a different story.

Steve, who is the one doorman you can always count on for help, came out to John Colman and me and said, “John is coming out between 7 and 8, but don’t spread it around.” This was about 6 PM, so we decided to get away from the entrance for a while, so that maybe the rest of the crowd would leave. We found that the more people that stood out front the more people it tended to attract. We all split up for an hour. Pam, Cathy, Terry and I went over to Central Park to observe that side of the building, many nights while there, I went to the Dakota and tried to observe the light patterns, etc. in the windows on John’s floor. I had it down to almost a science! I found out later from a friendly Dakota workman that most of my ideas on what room was which were totally wrong! The bedroom, I found out, is located in the center of the building, overlooking the courtyard. By the way, the workman also told me John & Yoko have an ENORMOUS round bed! And the room I had suspected was the bedroom turned out to be Sean’s playroom/John’s exercise room! The workman said John exercises every day!)

At 7 PM the next meeting of the Lennon Lovers Anonymous convened back at the Dakota’s entrance. About 7 PM, sure enough, here came the Esquire limo. It sat under the archway for
about 30 minutes, and then out in the street for another 30 minutes. Suddenly we saw it turn
around and leave! John was not in it. We were rather confused. We left shortly after that
episode, about 9PM. Several others stayed a bit later til 11 or so, but no one ever went out,
After I’d had some sleep, the next day I decided that John had probably planned to go out that
evening, but for some reason, like being tired, had decided not to.

Apparently John had gone out sometime after that because when I arrived back at the Dakota the next day around 1PM? Heinz told me John had just come in about 8AM, There was already an Esquire limo parked out front indicating SOME Lennon was going out.
There were a few other fans out, Marco was there, with a friend he’d brought to photograph the events! They had another Brazilian guy with them. Then there were 2 other guys from NYC that I had seen a couple days before. They left about 2PM. So it essentially just Marco, me, and this other Brazilian guy. The limo was parked out in the street and stayed there for quite some time,
About 2;30 I asked Heinz if he knew what was going on. He told me John was going out, but the limo would be pulled up under the archway when John called and said he was coming down. So, I thought, another one second view in the dark.

About 3PM, Marco and I were standing on the sidewalk directly in front of the archway. We weren’t paying much attention to what was happening in the archway, because we knew we’d have advance warning before John came out, with the limo pulling up under there. I glanced over and suddenly saw John. He was strolling toward us! I nearly passed out. He was wearing tight, straight-leg jeans, with about a 2-inch cuff on them. He had on (wait for it) RED socks, which were quite visible, as his jeans were rolled up a bit. He had on the usual white sneakers, but they had a red stripe on them, making him sooooo color-coordinated. He had on a big, bulky, soft-looking, whitish- blue jacket. It was a soft, cottony-looking material. He had on his orange glasses with the dark lenses we’ve seen in pictures lately. He was carrying what might be called, in nice terms, a “shoulder bag”, or might be called, in worse terms, a “purse”. It looked like a purse to me, but it had a shoulder strap. Everytime anybody has seen him lately, he’s had that brown bag over his shoulder. I bet he carries his sushi lunch in there. I said the first thing that popped into my head, brilliant though it was…”Well…HI, JOHN!” (Degree in woodwork.) He smiled and said, “Hi, how are ya?” The smile was encouraging, not to mention breathtaking. I managed to blurt out, “John, could I please take your picture?” He said, word for word, “Sure ya can, darlin’!” I felt faint again, but while Marco detained him, I started taking pictures. I took 2 close up, and probably would have had time for more, if I hadn’t had camera problems. John didn’t seem to be in any hurry. Marco asked him about coming to Brazil when he toured, and John allowed as how he had been considering it, and had gotten the letter Marco had sent regarding it. John referred Marco to his business manager, saying he could set up an appointment with him to talk about it. Marco asked John for his autograph, and they shook hands.

About this same time, I had moved back a ways to get a full-length shot of John. They had finished their conversation, and as soon as I got all of John in the view-finder, he started walking toward the limo. So I took one quickly of him as he walked.

Just as he started to duck into the limo, I called out, “Thanks} John!” (One of the same witty lines I had used in March; gee, I’m glad I remembered it again!) He stuck his head up above the door of the limo, looked at me, and said, “What?” I repeated it, and he said, very nicely, “Oh, yeah…yeah…” Then he sat down on the back seat. Just as the doorman was closing the door, I peeked inside, and saw Yoko sitting there. How she’d gotten by me I’ll never know, but I’m sure King Kong could’ve walked thru there and I wouldn’t have noticed, as absorbed as I was in John. Before the door closed, I called out, “Hi, Yoko!” The door closed, and she smiled and nodded and waved. Then the limo took off.

John Colman had told me he would be around the Dakota this particular day, so the whole time this was happening, in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Where is Colman?” I, among others, were anxious to see Lennon’s face when he met his mirror image. As luck would have it, Colman was, on this afternoon, standing out front of the Hit Factory. And just GUESS where Lennon’s limo was headed when I saw him?! Colman and Annemarie were out front along with two other girls, who said they were regulars there. The limo pulled up. Lennon got out of the limo, strode over to Colman, taking large strides, and stuck out his hand to shake. With no prompting from Colman, Lennon said, “Hi, how are ya?” Colman was shocked but managed to say “hi” and ask for Lennon’s autograph. As they stood there, Colman said, “Did Sean tell you about me?” Lennon looked up from what he was signing and said, “Oh, so YOU are the one…” and he didn’t say anything else! When Lennon finished signing, he walked over to Annemarie, who was busy taking pictures. He pointed at her camera, and said, “Is that a Brownie?” referring to her ancient camera. She was quite shook, but managed to say yes, it was. About that time, a black guy came walking up to Lennon and said, “Who are you?” rather stupidly. Colman said Lennon got almost defensive and said, “My name is Yovie!” He folded his arms over his chest while saying this. We still haven’t figured out what or who “Yovie” is! Colman said John didn’t smile the whole time but he seemed in a good mood.

With having been totally confused, the black guy left Colman said he was about to say something else to Lennon, but looked at him, and noticed that he had a very far-away look in his eyes, and Colman knew if he said something just from the way he looked, he would not have heard him. Lennon walked to the door of the Hit Factory, and he and Yoko walked in together. These other two girls had just been standing there observing the whole episode., They had said Yoko stood there the whole time, just staring at Colman and smiling really big! So we know she saw it, but Lennon didn’t even seem to react to the similarity.

I had one other encounter with the Lennon family. This one was extremely surrealistic. It was 3 days later, on Monday, Oct. 13. I had gotten in the habit, by this time, of going over to the Dakota about 1PM every day. That seemed to be prime time. As I neared 72nd Street on Columbus Ave., I noticed a big crowd gathered at the corner of those two streets. I thought probably there had been an accident or something. As I got there, I noticed there was a cop directing traffic at the corner, and they were blocking the street off. I walked up to someone and asked what was happening. They told me that President Carter’s limo was due to come thru there on 72nd St. in just a minute. Although I’m not exactly a big fan of Carter’s, I’ve never seen a real live President, so I thought this was pretty neat! I could tell that the motorcade would have to come down 72nd St., which would mean it would go by the Dakota. I decided to walk on up there. As I arrived at the Dakota, I noticed there were 3 limos parked out front: one up under the archway, one in front of that one, across the sidewalk out front, and a 3rd out in the street, doubleparked. The one that was across the sidewalk was John’s! I thought to myself, “Well, this’ll get him out of that damned archway!” He’d have to walk out onto the sidewalk to get into it. I saw that there were bunches of people out front of the Dakota, but they all seemed to be waiting for the President. Many of them were Dakota staff members it appeared. It looked like there were really only 2 other fans out front waiting for John…2 girls I had not seen there before. About 5 minutes after I arrived, a police car came out of Central Park slowly, with its lights flashing, and started down 72nd St. as tho’ maybe it were leading the motorcade. I got my camera all set, and stood right on the edge of the driveway in front of the Dakota. I had my back to the building and I was facing the road i heard Steve, the doorman, say, “Here they come!” and I anxiously craned my neck to see the President. Stupid me. I noticed out of the corner of my left eye that someone had just come running up from behind me and stopped beside me. I glanced over, and it was Yoko! She was standing just to my left, and standing just to her left was John!! To his left was a little Oriental girl who must have been about 20 years old. I had heard Sean had 2 nannies, Helen, and a young Oriental girl; I figured this MUST be her, as standing in front of her was Sean. She had her hands on Sean’s shoulders as though to keep him from running out into the traffic.

The Lennons were just lined up here along 72nd St., just waiting to see the President. John Lennon, who could get an appointment with the President, or Mick Jagger any time he wanted, had brought his kid to stand out front and wave at President Carter. I started taking pictures quickly, before they moved anywhere else. I needn’t have worried, Yoko was quiet, Sean was animated. The nanny was just trying to keep Sean under control. John spoke; “Sean, now the King is gonna come by here in just a minute, and we’re all gonna wave at him.” We all just stood there, me stiff as a board, with John continuing a steady barrage of small talk. Nobody was saying anything to the Lennons. Nobody asked for photos or autographs. That was the best part about it. Usually when you see John, he’s being “bugged” by fans (like me) and he’s in a bit of a hurry to be done with it and out of there. Now he was just hanging around being a semi-normal (!?) human being. It was so incredible. He was cold, and kept saying how cold it was. He’d bounce up and down a bit and blow on his hands. He kept telling Sean that the “King” was about to drive by. If he said “the King” once, he said it 50 times. I think John could use a lesson in American government, Sean will need one: he won’t know if it’s the King, the President, or the Emperor!

At one point, after he’d been waiting about 5 minutes, John commented that it “sure is taking him a long time to get here…he must have stopped in Central Park to pick up a couple of future voters!” A lady standing on the other side of John from where I was, was Mrs. Warner LeRoy. Her husband is probably the 2nd richest man in the building. Mrs. LeRoy is a really nice young girl. She stepped off the curb about 6 inches into the street. As she did, John looked at her. I don’t know if I can do John’s tone of voice justice in this article, but he pointed at her feet, and said, gruffly, “LeRoy, GET BACK UP HERE ON THE CURB! You know they don’t allow that when the President’s in town!” John kind of laughed in a funny way, but without smiling. Mrs. LeRoy laughed, too, and stepped back up on the curb.

We continued to wait; Yoko had never said anything since we’d been there. We must have been there 8 or so minutes. I finally decided that a lot of valuable picture-taking time was going to waste here but the problem was that because we were lined up, I couldn’t really get any good photos without stepping out into the street, and I’d already seen the results of THAT move! I leaned over to Yoko and said, “Yoko, as long as we’re all just standing here, would you mind if I took a couple of pictures of you?” She hesitated, and then said, “Ok, fine.” I stepped out into the street in front of Yoko, John, Sean, and turned toward them. JUST as I did that, here comes President Carter. (He just lost my vote.) So I stepped back up into line. I heard John say, “C’mere, Sean!” and Sean came over to him. John picked him up in his arms and once again reminded him to wave at the King.

Jimmy drove by, smiled and waved. John, Sean, Yoko and the entire assembled multitude waved back. (He expects it, don’t he?.) After he was gone, John put Sean down, and turned around toward his limo. Lauren Bacall was standing behind him. She said, “Oh, John, I meant to tell you happy birthday!” (And where was SHE on Oct. 9, hmm??) John said, “Thank you!” and politely put his arm around her and kissed her on the cheek. (I wait for 27 hours in the cold to tell him the same thing, and what do get?!) Then John said, “Ok, let’s go,” and the four of them, nanny included, ran back and got into the limo…then they took off. John and Yoko were in the back seat, with Sean sitting between them.

I wanted to comment that while we were waiting, I had occasion to just LOOK at John. I started with his feet and worked up. The angle I was at didn’t give me much of a view of anything but his head and his legs. (Who’s complaining!?) I stared at his feet…he had on black boots. They were a kind of thin leather, that looked wrinkly. I could see his big toe thru the boot, and I felt faint. He had on grey wool trousers, which looked quite good on him, and a white shirt and a beige-brown suit jacket, which looked kind of like camel’s hair. He had a grey wool scarf wrapped around his beautiful neck and hanging down his front. He didn’t have any glasses on. His hair was blowing every which-way as was everyone else’s…as it was EXTREMELY windy this day. That was the main problem with my pictures—the angle I was at combined with the wind direction, combined with the way he kept looking toward Central Park, made it very hard to get a face shot of him. His hair kept blowing forward over his face! I studied his face—he had such a firm jaw line, partly due, I’m sure, to being so thin. He had not shaved that day, and I found out from Steve after this was all over that he had not come in that morning until 10AM.

The President Carter episode was the last time I saw John. ..but I shall return!! — Ann Lawter.

On possibly Monday the 18th, or Tuesday the 19th the Lennon family held a birthday party for John and Sean at the Tavern on the green restaurant. The above four photo’s are from this celebration.

Special thanks to Addison and Heloisa for transcribing.

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23 Responses to “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHN!!:”

  1. Adam from Canberra says:

    Amazing stuff.

    It makes me so sad that coming and going from his home, which John did as just a normal bloke, was what exposed him to a certain individual who took advantage of this.

  2. Brian says:

    What a fantastic recollection.

    In the 14th photo down, I think that’s LA Times man Robert Hilburn in the background, who interviews John later that day at the studio.

    There’s some 20 mins of video from this day:

    which is in addition to the more familiar 5 minute clip:


  3. Brian says:

    …..maybe that 5 minute clip is actually a compilation of the longer 20 minutes…

    Some amazing photos just lately! John with Earl Slick’s baby is precious. The skywriting I’d never seen before, and the one with new tie and brooch has to be one of the best John photos ever.

    All very moving. Long lost John.

    Do we know what he recorded on the day of his birthday?

  4. Ishie says:

    Thanks to all of you for sharing your John stories. All that were able to share a ‘one on one’ moment with John have a treasured memory to relive in their minds over & over again. John’s love, patience & commitment to his fans was very evident and he considered himself no different than anyone else. That was the beauty of his personality. As for the photos … superb. His look, his smile, his style were all so attractive … maybe charismatic would be the right word!
    Gregg, I know exactly what you mean about having John on your mind, especially as of late with the anniversary releases, books, tributes etc. I’m noticing the same for myself. I’m searching for “all things Lennon” … he left an impression, of that there is no doubt. His life & legacy live on in all of us … that was his greatest gift to us!
    Happy Birthday John! Happy Birthday Sean … may every wish come true!

  5. d- says:

    Does anyone else find this lengthy description of waiting around and watching John’s comings and goings a bit, well, creepy?

  6. Tammy says:

    Not really creepy, just more ‘innocent’.

  7. Lizzie Bravo says:

    Dear d-says, as someone who spent countless hours outside EMI Studios at Abbey Road, Paul’s house or wherever else the boys might have been in London in the late 60’s, I don’t find it creepy at all. I know all the people mentioned in this story, some are close friends. We are not creepy, we just loved our idols and wanted to see them. You wouldn’t believe the amount of really cool people I have met waiting for them, we have been friends for over 40 years.

  8. Lizzie Bravo says:

    Hi Tammy! Can you please e-mail me the cleaned-up copies of Marco & John so I can e-mail them to him? I sent him the same scans I sent you and he was very pleased, since my copies were in mint condition. xx

  9. Sara S. says:

    Tammy you have made my day (which happens to be my birthday!) First of all, the entire story is totally what the Meet the Beatles for Real blog has been all about…some of my favorite articles to read are stories written by fans from when they encountered one of the Beatles. Such a sweet thing to read. And some of the photos you posted are ones I have been looking for for many years. Thank you so much for the sweet gift!


  10. Peter Hodgson says:

    Fantastic stuff by Marco from Brazil, and also the other pieces.
    Absolutely brilliant photographs
    I love reading about John’s life in 1980

  11. Jennifer says:

    Thank you very much for sharing this article and all the beautiful pictures. : )

  12. Beatle-maniac says:

    Umm….isn’t John’s birthday tomorrow?? Just curious. It was still really nice of you, though, to put together the whole post for John!

  13. Tammy says:

    Don’t forget the time difference in Australia :-)

  14. James says:

    Wow amazing pictures once again. Happy Birthday John, we love and miss you terribly

  15. mikeypit says:

    Just yesterday (Oct 8th) as all the evening news-shows were talking about John Lennon’s soon to be 70th birthday, I was telling a story to my wife. It was 1980 and I was dating a young lady who lived on 82nd and York Avenue in NYC. As we were walking back to her apartment we noticed some sky-writing. When we got to the wide intersection that is 79th and York we could finally see all the writing clearly…”Happy Birthday John + Sean”. I still remember it clear as a bell. And I remember thinking how great it was that I lived in the city that this great artist chose to call home. Who back then could have imagined the sad, sad coda to my memories…watching a Monday night football game 2 months later as the bulletin came in, hoping it was some horrible mistake, then switching to WNEW FM and hearing that it was indeed true.
    But the birthday memory was a happy one. Thanks much for sharing it.


  17. luiz verri says:

    I’d wish you are here

  18. Ted says:

    Great description of your John adventure.

    I’m a friend of Helen & family through a son. A couple of months back I, unfortunately, missed a birthday gathering – a tad north of 90. What’s really weird is my pal would give me stories Helen would tell him back in the 70s and it somehow never occurred to me that HE had met John, any number of times. Taciturn as he is, he was also not the least interested in pop music! So it never occurred to HIM to excitedly tell ME about his John meetings…

    In June ’81 my friend flew into town during a school break. I met him at LaGuardia for some reason. I don’t recall if this was planned, but Helen arrived, driven in a limo, and I ended up spending the night at the Long Island house. Yoko was in recluse at The Dakota, but I met Sean, 6 I think, wearing a Yankee hat, looking eerily like his dad but with Asian eyes.

    I slept in the living room with a white piano (not THE white piano) after watching John’s tape of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, which I’d never gotten to see before. (1981 was still before video tape recorders were common-place). The eclectic collection of books on the shelves behind the couch was fascinating. Lots of philosophy, I recall, music of course, and many Japanese books. And the copy of ‘A Cellar Full of Noise’ signed from Brian to John!

    That’s as close as I got.

    What’s on my mind today is that we lost Helen’s husband, Norman Seaman, in the last year, Norm was a fantastic guy. Story-teller and name dropper deLux, but in such a delightful way. He was a producer of concerts in NYC for decades – mostly up & coming classical musicians, but also folk shows. He was the 1st person to put Yoko on stage here, in 1961, and thus was a permanent insider with I-knew-her-when trust, & John & he got on easily, which is easy to imagine.

    I’m sad at least as much that Norm didn’t quite make it to this milestone celebration. He most definitely would’ve been on a stage somewhere gleefully telling John stories.

    Miss you Norm.

  19. JC says:

    Amazing photos. Happy Birthday, John. You are missed.

  20. Brenda says:

    Thank you so much for this…I spent many many days at the Dakota seeing John just like they did. It’s great to relive those days and read about others experiences!

  21. Jen says:

    I was born six years after John was killed. I’m sad I never knew the time when he was alive. But somehow he is alive in all of us, in our hearts and minds, in music. And in peace. Happy Birthday John, wherever you are. You’ll never be forgotten.

  22. Marie says:

    Wait…. Where is Sean’s head???


  23. addambongg says:

    We’ll keep the fire burning ..

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