John leaving South Africa in June 1980 to return home to New York.

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42 Responses to “SOUTH AFRICA 1980:”

  1. Chris says:

    Wow! This is fantastic! Did John go alone? Where did this photo come from? Who took this photo?
    I would love to learn more about John’s trip to South Africa.

  2. Sara S. says:

    Awesome! I always wondered if photo of his S. Africa trip were out there somewhere….

  3. CindyB says:

    Wish he had stayed in Africa and never returned to NYC. :(

  4. luis says:

    hi there tammy
    south africa 1980?
    do you have more info about this?
    I’ve read fred seaman book several times and nothing about john going to south africa is i it.

  5. Tammy says:


    I dont know too much more about it, just a passenger took the photo on the flight back to NY from Soth Africa. It is known John did go to South Africa during this time frame, May Pang states the last time she spoke to John was memorial day long weekend in May, when he called her from South Africa.

  6. luis says:

    hi tammy
    thanks for the answer but it seems there’s some lost here.
    because acording to fred book in may 1980 john was in long islang .
    fred says they were in long island from april to june when john took a plane to go to bermuda on june 4 1980.
    I think this picture is from this trip, in the plane that took him to bermuda.

  7. Peter Hodgson says:

    Hi Luis,
    John went to Cape Town South Africa in 1980, he mentions it in his interview with Andy Peebles from 6th December 1980.
    He Stayed at The Mount Nelson Hotel.
    One day whilst having a nap under a tree in the grounds of the hotel he was mistaken for a Vagrant, security were called, and there were red faces all around when they realised that it was Mr Lennon.
    Very little is known about this trip as John did indeed travel alone, this would be the reason that Fred Seaman never mentioned it in his book.
    Yoko told hom to travel around the world in an easterly direction as it would be good for his ”stars”
    John never flew to Bermude, he sailed on The Megan Jaye Yacht and flew home on 28th July 1980.
    This photo was taken by an eagled eyed passenger on John’s flight home from Cape Town.
    He sailed to Bermuda only days later
    The photo in 100% on his flight home from South Africa.


  8. Brian says:

    Amazing photo—wow.
    I wish I knew more about those 1980 trips away. Didn’t he get as far as Spain and Germany? The closest he got to home.

  9. stephanie says:

    Brilliant photos. what a find, Tammy !!

    Memorial Day 1980 was Monday May 26. Well done Peter for setting out the correct facts.

    Note to any fans out there who believe the Seaman book, its been discredited. Some of it may be true, but much of it is not. The book was a self serving attempt by that person, a former trusted employee, to make money from, and justify his repeated and large scale theft of treasures from John & Yoko’s archives, not all of which have been recovered, for which he was later convicted by the US High Court. He later admitted his guilt and apologised to Yoko.

  10. Ishie says:

    Having only heard about John’s South Africa trip, it’s great to see a photo. I can only imaging how many ‘hidden gems’ are out there! Tammy, thanks for sharing these treasures with us!

  11. Calico Skies says:

    I remember at the time of that South African trip had been mentioned at the time, although I’ll have to check if it was in a music paper (like Melody Maker or New Musical Express, that did mention the Bermuda trip just after) or a Beatles fanzine (like Beatles Unlimited, which was the only one I subscribed to at the time).

    In early 1979, J&Y had travelled to Egypt, I think there’s a photo of them before the Pyramids in the book accompanying the “Lennon Anthology” box, but I’ve never seen any other photo. Once again, at the time I remember reading somewhere that John had been spotted at Frankfurt Airport.

    Finally, but I have never seen confirmation or any photo of this, at least one French music magazine claimed that John and Yoko had been spotted in Paris the year before, probably around May or June (1978).

  12. Peter Hodgson says:

    A few months before his untimely death John Lennon stayed at Mount Nelson Hotel under the pseudonym ‘Mr Greenwood’. He is said to have been exceptionally tidy (he even made his own bed), he meditated on Table Mountain, spoke to his wife Yoko Ono regularly, and planned to bring her to stay at the hotel the following year.

  13. Peter Hodgson says:

    The Mount Nelson Hotel – one of the oldest hotels in the city and popular with international celebrities. Legend has it that a guest once complained that a vagrant was sitting on the lawn, When staff went to investigate it turned out to be John Lennon doing yoga in the garden.

  14. BeatleMark says:

    Wow! I didn’t know all that about Fred Seaman! I’ve read his book “The Last Days of John Lennon” many times. Rather enjoyed it actually. I often thought it was Yoko who was controlling the media/US High Court to come out in her favor. I mean it was her (Yoko) that sought out advice from psychics and voodoo priestesses?

    Isn’t it Yoko who had numerous times changed stories around to credit herself?
    If anyone deserves to be discredited, it should be Yoko Ono.

  15. jim says:

    wow! amazing find! thank you for sharing these fotos.

  16. Rmacca says:

    stephanie says: ‘Note to any fans out there who believe the Seaman book, ”

    I agree with BeatleMark and I believe John’s British family and friends that John was not happy in the late 70’s. He looks like a starved man to me but I guess some people chose to be blind.
    “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”

    I dont believe in Yoko’s PR. Sorry.
    I’m thankful to youtube because two taped diaries from John in 1979 are there for all to hear.
    Wanting to jump out your 43 story hotel window is not happy.
    My heart Breaks.

  17. Erik says:

    Say what you will about John not being happy in ’79 (and he probably wasn’t) but I believe that he was truly happy (the happiest he had been a LONG time) by the summer/fall of ’80….

    Here is an AMAZING article about John in ’80 (excerpts from a new book) that really give some neat insights on John..,0,2270621.story


  18. lennon says:

    Speaking of Fred Seaman — did he steal John’s still missing 1980 Hit Factory videotape (performing I’m Losing You and Starting Over) as well as the Grow Old With Me acoustic guitar demo? Or did John really sink his 1980 Hit Factory video in the bathtub?

  19. lennon says:

    So — how many days was Lennon in Cape Town and what did he do while there?

  20. A Different Chris says:

    Cornflakes is a fantastic book. I highly recommend it.

  21. luis says:

    well I believe seman book….. but who knows?
    the only man who knows his truth(john) is not here anymore to tell it.

  22. luis says:

    hi Peter Hodgson
    thanks for the story

  23. A Different Chris says:

    Wow, those Gitanes were never out of arm’s reach, were they?

  24. Brian says:

    Gitanes are the stinkiest smokes out!
    No joke the breath of a Gitane smoker!

  25. Astrid says:

    Great find, thanks for putting it up here.

    I agree with Rmacca….I do not believe any second in that Yoko PR. She is the one who discredited Seaman to get her way… seems to work for some people.
    Everyone who got into Yoko’s way was silenced by court or whatever.

    But some people like stephanie prefer to be blinded by her.


  26. luis says:

    well I don’t believe thay john was in South Africa in June 1980
    I’ve asked info to south africa inmigration office at
    I’m waiting for an answer.

  27. Peter Hodgson says:

    Luis, John was in South Africa in June 1980, listen to his interview from Dec 6th 1980 with Andy Peebles.
    Only days after this picture was taken he set sail to Bermuda aboard The Megan Jaye.
    It was me who sent this picture to Tammy for posting last week, the picture was taken by an eagled eyed fan aboard the flight home to NYC from Cape Town South Africa.
    The person who took the picture knows what flight they were on and also where they were travelling from.
    John Lennon was in Cape Town South Africa in June 1980….. 100% fact

    I’m waiting for a perfect copy of the picture so that I can scan and send it to Tammy, the picture posted was taken from the newspaper with my phone camera, not great quality but hence it’s the only known photo of John from his South African trip, I doubt that there will be any more pics from this trip, as he travelled alone.


  28. Guido says:

    If we could get confirmation from the hotel… I do not have 100% trust in either a tourist’s recollection or John’s memory.

  29. Peter Hodgson says:

    Guido, you say you don’t have 100% trust in John Lennon’s memory, he mentions the Cape Town trip to Andy Peebles on 6th December 1980, only months after the trip had taken place.
    At this time John was clean, and had been for a number of years.

    It was Me who sent the photo to Tammy expecting fans to be thrilled ( as I was ) with it, but I’m disappointed with people questioning it’s authenticity and questioning when and where it was taken.

    I’m 100% sure that the person who took the photo knew when they took it, and also that they knew where they were travelling from and where to when they took the photo.

    Here’s a link to the hotel

  30. Tammy says:

    Don’t be disappointed Peter, it’s really only one person questioning what is fact, everyone else .. including some Lennon scholars are really excited by this find.

  31. Brian says:

    It’s a great find alright. Amazing what still turns up.

  32. Marie says:

    Thanks 4 sharing this!! =D

    about Seaman… idont like that guy.. he says Yoko mind controlled John… and that she’s just making money after his death… but he’s doing the same!!! XD

  33. Guus says:

    Hard to read that some people won’t believe John went to South Africa, there’s “evidence” enough to find…..

    He left on May 23rd -alone- and stayed at the mentioned hotel as Mr. Greenwood, he returned in the first days of June, to leave for Bermuda on June 4th from Rhodes Island on the Mega Jaye.

  34. Ivor Markman says:

    I took a photograph of the taxi-driver who took John Lennon to the Kramat on Signal Hill. We heard he was in town and battled to track him down. The taxi-driver was the closest we got to getting any photos. I was working for the Argus as a photographer at the time.

  35. Deb Mackaman says:

    Ivor, I’m originally from Cape Town, and I have a photo of John Lennon and the taxi driver who took him to the Kramat on Signal Hill in Cape Town, during that trip. My husband was giving the photo by someone who worked at the Cape Argus, when he lived in Cape Town in 1987 – 1989. You can see Table Mountain in the background. I also have an archival copy of an old panoramic photograph of Table Mountain, taken about 100 years ago, which my mother got when working for a Cape Town architect who researched early Cape Town buildings. This panoramic photo must have been taken from the same spot where the photo of John Lennon and the taxi driver where standing, because if you hold the photo of them over the photo of the panorama, the mountain lines up exactly. He was definitely in Cape Town then, and I have a photo of him there, with Table Mountain in the background, to prove it.

  36. Tammy says:

    Hi Deb, any chance of getting a copy of the photo to post here on the blog?, it would be great to see :-)

  37. Deb Mackaman says:

    I’d love to, but don’t know how to upload it? Any help would be appreciated. The photo was severely water-damaged a few years ago, but fortunately, it’s mostly the background that’s spotty, and John is untouched.

  38. Chris Rimmer says:

    I remember John’s trip to Cape Town. He befriended a taxi driver who drove him around the city. The guy was Cape Coloured and was thus subject to the Apartheid laws of the time. He took several photographs of John which were published in South Africa’s Sunday Time newspaeper. John was cool with it as long as it happened after he left. The taxi driver says that John had no cash on him and used a gold American Express Card to pay for everything. He stayed at the Mount Nelson Hotel.

  39. Grant says:

    I am from Cape Town.
    I recalled after John was killed & his photo’s were all over the news at local taxi driver came forward stating he had driven John around the city.
    The taxi driver had no idea who he was driving around the city at the time.
    He specifically mentioned taking John to the kramat on Signal Hill to meditate.

  40. Jeremy Swanson says:

    I remember the taxi Driver cape drive round story too so I can confirm that.

  41. Héctor says:

    Is that a pack of Gitanes? I remember reading at thes besginings of the Playboy last interviews both he and Yoko smoked French cigarettes… Blessings…

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