Posts Tagged ‘1980’


Saturday, January 25th, 2014

It’s amazing that more than 33 years later new photo’s and frames surface of John
in 1980.

This photo is an unseen frame from December the 8th 1980, and is on the cover
of this weeks edition of the NME.

This photo says so much, and really moves me. At no other time
did John look like this, besides the pics of him in Hamburg taken by Astrid.

Something happened to John in the last couple of days of his life, he transformed,
he looked and sounded different, i can’t put my finger on it, nor put it into words,
but as this photo shows, John looks resigned, at peace, anticipating.

Yoko’s remembrances from this day may go some way into explaining it ..

WALKING ON THIN ICE by Yoko Ono was first published in Rolling Stone, December 2010 issue as “John’s Last Days: A Remembrance by Yoko Ono”.

“The last weekend was very quiet. The sky was cloudy in a restful way. And the town seemed as though it was asleep.

Saturday started with John listening to “Walking on Thin Ice”. As John was so focused on it, I went out to the news stand and suddenly thought I should get John some chocolates as a surprise. He loved chocolates, but it was not in our sugarless diet at that point. After the drug binges of the Sixties, John wanted both of us to clean up and be healthy “for Sean’s sake too.” But that Saturday, the last Saturday John would enjoy, I thought of getting him some chocolate and surpri sing him. I don’t know why I thought that. I didn’t like chocolates at all then, so I wasn’t suffering not eating them. I got some and came home. As I came out of the elevator, I was surprised by John opening the door to the apartment before I rang the bell. “How did you know I was coming back just now?” “Oh, I know when you’re back.” He was so happy that I got him the chocolates. I remember how he smiled.

The same day, John wanted all my artwork to be brought upstairs from the basement to the white room. This was not the first time he asked for it, but he asked for it on this weekend again. “It’s ridiculous. We have those great works, and we are leaving them in the basement. I want to enjoy them.” For me, it was boring to have to see my old works every day. As a result, my pieces were piled up in the basement storage covered in dust. In those days, I didn’t particularly care about that. “John, can we do it after we finish the album? We are all so busy now.” “No, we should do it now. You’ll never do it otherwise.” As he said it, there was a touch of sadness in his voice, as if he already knew we would never bring them upstairs. We didn’t.

All day, John did not stop playing “Walking on Thin Ice.” He played it over and over again. We still hadn’t overdubbed the guitar solo, so I thought he was checking what to do with it. But it was unlike him that he took so much time on it. I went to sleep. When I woke up on Sunday morning, he was still playing “Walking all Thin Ice” as he looked over the park. I knew the song was a good song. But I was just thinking of what else should be done musically. Never thought deeper than that at the time. Only just recently, it occured to me that maybe John was aware of the song in a different light.

Walking on thin ice
I’m paying the price
For throwing the dice in the air.

But it goes into the middle eight after the second verse:

I may cry someday,
But the tears will dry whichever way…
And when our hearts return to ashes
It’ll be just a story.

I hadn’t realized that it said “I may cry someday,” not “YOU may cry someday” or “WE may cry someday.”

What was I thinking?! John probably noticed it as he listened to the song that weekend, so intently. Was that what made him keep on listening? Did we know something? John? Me? Death was one thing we didn’t discuss that weekend. But it was around us like a thick fog.

The last Sunday. I’m glad in a way that we didn’t know that it was our last Sunday together, so we could have had a semblance of normalcy. But it turned out that it was not a normal Sunday at all. Something was starting to happen, like the dead silence before a tsunami. The air was gelling tenser and tenser, denser and denser. Then, I distinctly saw airwaves in the room. It was wiggly lines, like on the heart monitor next to the hospital bed, just before it becomes a flat straight line. “John, are you all right?” I asked through the density. He just nodded and kept listening to “Walking on Thin Ice,” playing it loud. “Walking on thin ice. Walking on thin ice …” “John, John, arrre youuuu alllll riiight?” I heard my voice vibrating. I could not go near John, for some reason. WALKING ON THIN ICE. WALKING ON THIN ICE. WALKING ON THIN ICE. I realized that both of us were in a strange dimension in a weird time zone, as if we were in a dream. Then it all stopped. I went into a long and shallow sleep, with John over me, kissing me tenderly.

Monday. The very last day of John’s life, we woke up to a shiny blue sky spreading over Central Park. The day had an air of bright eyes and bushy tails. John and I remembered that we had a full schedule. Annie Leibovitz’s photo session, RKO radio show, and studio work from 6 p.m. John liked being prompt. John was English, I was Japanese. The result was both of us possessed extreme austerity and hilarity back to back. The sky was turning gray in the afternoon. And John kept talking to the RKO radio guy, cramming in a lot of things. We nearly became late for the studio. I rushed into the car and saw John still signing an autograph for a guy in front of the Dakota. “John, we’ll be late!” I remember being a bit irritable. “Why one more autograph?” I thought. John said something like, “OK,” and rushed into the car, sat next to me and held my hand as usuaL The car drove off.

I know I speak of his hands a lot. I loved his hands. He used to say he had wanted hands like Jean Cocteau – long and slim fingers. But I grew up surrounded by cousins with those aristocratic hands. I loved John’s, clean, strong, working-class hands that grabbed me whenever there was a chance.

The studio work went until late at night. In a room next to the control room, just before we left the studio, John looked at me. I looked at him. His eyes had an intensity of a guy about to tell me something important. “Yes?” I asked. And I will never forget how with a deep, soft voice, as if to carve his words in my mind, he said the most beautiful things to me. “Oh” I said after a while, and looked away, feeling a bit embarrassed.

In my mind, hearing something like that from your man when you were way over 40… well… I was a very lucky woman, I thought. Even now, I see his piercing eyes in my mind. I don’t know why he decided, at that very moment, to say all that as if he wanted me to remember it forever. Did it matter that the whole world hated you if your guy loved you that much? Who cares if you had to live in hell with him? Some couples might be lucky to live in heaven. John and my heaven was in Hell. And we loved it. We would not have wanted it any other way.

Yoko Ono
London, October 18th, 2010


Monday, October 28th, 2013


Wednesday, October 16th, 2013


Wednesday, September 18th, 2013


Wednesday, September 18th, 2013


Tuesday, September 10th, 2013


Tuesday, September 10th, 2013


Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013


Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

AUGUST 22 1980:

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013


Wednesday, August 21st, 2013


Monday, August 12th, 2013

I love this screen capture i took from the Novemeber 1980 Sperone Gallery filming. John and Yoko could sometimes be percieved as somewhat humourless, but this photo, and indeed the video, shows both John AND Yoko in fits of genuine laughter, so lovely and endearing to see.

OCTOBER 10 1980:

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013


Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

OCT 10TH 1980:

Friday, May 3rd, 2013


Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

This piece of graffiti lasted until at least the mid 1990’s in Sydney, as millions of people drove along busy South Dowling street, this message was clearly visible.


Sunday, April 28th, 2013


Tuesday, April 9th, 2013


Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

What else can others spot in John and Yoko’s office, using Miss Tammy’s Romper Room magic mirror, i can see ..

* A pile of Double Fantasy promo albums behind Yoko in the first photo, as well as a Magritte painting.

* In the second, more promo albums, and a framed copy of 1979’s ‘A love letter from John and Yoko’

* In the third i see an address filofax that i can only dream of having access to :-)


Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Hugh McCracken who played guitar on my two favorite albums of ‘all’ time, ‘RAM’ and ‘Double Fantasy Stripped Down’, passed away last week. His playing was especially distinctive on RAM, and i’ve never heard the sound he got from his guitar on that album replicated anywhere. Hugh can be seen standing behind Yoko in the second photo.


Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

AUGUST 1980:

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013


Saturday, March 9th, 2013


Monday, February 25th, 2013


Monday, February 25th, 2013


Friday, February 22nd, 2013


Thursday, February 7th, 2013


Saturday, February 2nd, 2013


Thursday, January 31st, 2013


Thursday, January 24th, 2013


Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

The above was issued in early December 1980, and was John and Yoko’s final political statement. John, Yoko and Sean were booked to fly to San Francisco the following Tuesday to march with the protesters .. alas.


Tuesday, December 25th, 2012


Friday, December 7th, 2012


Friday, November 9th, 2012


Saturday, November 3rd, 2012


Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

I always wondered where this iconic photo of John and Yoko was taken in the Dakota. In the uncropped version you can see a bit of the white lounge, which can be seen in the lone photo of Yoko.


Saturday, October 27th, 2012


Tuesday, October 16th, 2012


Monday, October 8th, 2012

Being the perfectionist i am (some would say anal, tho not me), i’ve been looking over some of the earliest entries of this blog, i can’t help but shudder at how ordinary some of them look. I won’t have enough time to go over and review many, but some important, or meaningful entries i may from time to time work on, upgrade and flesh out.

One entry i spent a few hours on tonight, was a post about my memories of John in 1980. Click on the highlighted link below to view this post ..


Oh, do you like how i just casually throw in a nice, new, unseen John in 1980 photo for you?, i spoil you lot.


Friday, September 28th, 2012

Nashville engineer Steve Marcantonio is best known these days as an Academy of Country Music Engineer-of-the-Year Award winner who has worked with the likes of Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, Alabama, Deanna Carter, George Strait, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill and Brooks and Dunn. But long before his Music City days, he got his start in 1978 as an assistant engineer at the Record Plant in New York City, where he worked with the Blue Brothers, The J. Geils Band, Aerosmith, Kiss, Cheap Trick, Richie Havens and Clarence Clemons and others. In December 1980, he got the opportunity to work with John Lennon, Yoko Ono and producer Jack Douglas, who had booked time at the Record Plant to work on the Yoko Ono song “Walking on Thin Ice.” The song was originally tracked during the Double Fantasy sessions, and was being considered as the next single of Lennon and Ono’s collaboration. Tracking began on December 1 and ended on December 8th, just hours before Lennon’s untimely death.

I knew nothing at all about anything in music before I worked for Roy Cicala at the Record Plant. I dabbled in playing guitar for a few months, and I grew up in a house of music and I took a course in recording that did nothing for me. The terminology and the gear I knew nothing about, so that first year, it took me awhile just to understand the language. I had maybe a little more than a year under my belt of actually working as an assistant. It was still quite new to me, the whole assisting thing.

Earlier in the year in 1980, John came in to do some work on Double Fantasy and they wanted me to be the assistant, but I was working on the Blues Brothers soundtrack and the producer didn’t want to let me go, since he was used to working with me. So them coming back in December, it felt like it was in the cards that I was going to be working with him. I had gotten a second chance.

When John and Yoko tracked Double Fantasy, they had recorded two albums worth of music, and they were going to put out a second album and this was one of those songs. I think it was eventually going to go on that record, but it was definitely going to be the next single.

We started on the 1st, a Monday, and they came in at the beginning of the day. The times and the hours are kind of vague, but we started sometime before noon. Jack Douglas was the producer and basically the engineer as well. He sat behind the board. We listened to the track, to all the music that was recorded. There were minimal tracks, because they didn’t really finish it, so Jack, John and Yoko decided what they needed to do, and what they decided to do was record some guitars from John, a synthesizer that John would put on, and all the vocals, which was Yoko. So that process, and mixing it, getting all the elements together and forming the record, took a full week. It didn’t get to ungodly hours until the very end.

John and Yoko would come in the studio every day, and John was basically co-producing with Yoko and Jack. They all had a say on it. He was very much a part of the record-making process. He knew the signal flow, and he knew what he wanted and how he liked things to sound. Matter of fact, there was a device out called the Clap Track, and it was a device that simulated the sound of claps. We figured out that it was made somewhere in New Jersey. I offered to get it for him. He gave me $200 — two $100 bills — and I was gonna get it and bring it to him at the Dakota after that week. I just dreamed of going up the elevator to his apartment and giving him this device.

John laid down this really cool guitar solo that was so John Lennon, and every time the solo came up he would turn to me and we’d play air guitar to each other. It’s pretty surreal even thinking about it now.

It was Monday morning, the 8th — Sunday night into Monday morning — about 3:00 in the morning. It was freezing cold. I had been up probably at that point, 18 or 20 hours, and I was starting to fade. Jack said, “Let’s take a break and stop for awhile.” I felt that I needed to get some air just to keep awake for the next few hours. I took my coat and said, “Guys, I’m going out for a walk,” and as I’m leaving the control room, John says “Hold on, I’m coming with you.”

The only things out in the street were very light traffic, taxi cabs and garbage trucks. And there’s me and John Lennon walking down 44th street up to 8th Avenue. He told me a story of when he and the Beatles were in a neighborhood where the local guys were mad at them because they had the attention of their ladies, so a group of guys were chasing them down the street and John said he just took his hat and threw it on the ground and they stomped on it and that gave them enough time to get away. And I guess that walk reminded him of that, maybe because it was so cold out. But it was so cool that he told me that. It was so out of left field. And I don’t think we walked far. We might have walked around the block, but all I know was that I was walking alone with John Lennon and I wanted the whole world to see. That’s what I thought, and there was no one out there.

We went back in the studio and then we worked until at least six in the morning. There was a little concession stand in the Record Plant and I remember that John and Yoko stopped and got something before they left. That was back in the day when you worked in the studio the whole day and could lose track of time. There were no windows, and when you left the studio it could be daytime again.

Engineer Steve Marcantonio, back left in plaid shirt.

That Monday we came back in later to listen to the mix, to tighten everything and make sure everything was cool. I remember that night vividly. Jack Douglas was also producing a girl named Karen Lawrence. She was in a rock band called 1994. We had set a session for 9:00 that night, right after John and Yoko’s thing. I was scurrying around the studio getting ready for that session while John and Yoko were getting ready to leave. In my mind I had all these things I wanted to say to them, you know, “Thanks a lot…it was great working with you…I’ll see you with the clap track..this and that,” and I had to walk down the hall to another room. As I’m walking back to the studio where John and Yoko were, they were already in the elevator. So there was just barely enough time to say goodbye. So they were nice and receptive and said “Take care, Steve.” I was getting ready for Karen’s session, and it seemed like it was only an hour or so later that we heard the news (that he had died). There were four rooms in the studio, and each session just ran to a halt. I had to get the tapes and put them into the vault on the roof. For some reason I was scared – I don’t know why — to take those tapes up to the vault.

The following week, after his death, we were back in the studio with Yoko, and Jack said in the movie, it was kind of like their private memorial, and I was part of that. It was pretty intense and very heavy for me to be a part of. What they did, when they recorded Double Fantasy, they had a little tape machine called a Nagra. It was a small reel-to-reel that they set up in the control room. Whatever was said, they captured on tape. I think some of that is in the movie. You can hear John’s voice in the studio. What they did I think, we took all those tapes and skimmed through them and made like a montage of things he said, and put that to music — I’m not sure what the music was — so we made this little montage and I think it just went to Yoko. I don’t think there’s a trace of that anywhere to be had. We spent the better part of a day in the studio and it was intense. It was very much a somber mood.

I did get the cash (for the Clap Track) back to Yoko. And think Yoko remembered that, because she wound up giving me a double platinum plaque for Double Fantasy even though I didn’t work on it.

I’ve mentioned this film LENNONYC to maybe twenty different people and the first thing I tell them is that even if you don’t care about John Lennon, it’s a great timepiece and historical movie. Obviously, fans of John Lennon are going to love it. I didn’t realize until years later (after working with him) the impact he had on the peace movement at that time. It was phenomenal. But the historical sense of the movie is amazing, just for people who want to see what the country was going through at the time.

For me personally, seeing (Record Plant owner) Roy Cicala up on the screen … he’s the person that hired me, literally, off the street. I met him on the turnpike one day — my cousin knew him and introduced us – to go for a ride to pick up a boat, and that was my first exposure to him. He took a liking to me instantly and I was his personal assistant for the first year. So we were pulling tapes out of the vault of old John Lennon stuff and I was exposed to that instantly. Growing up listening to the Beatles, George Harrison was always my favorite Beatle. But John Lennon was my brother John’s favorite Beatle. He exposed me to John Lennon’s thought process.

So my exposure to John Lennon was kind of post-Beatles. I never understood the impact of what he was all about until after the Beatles were over. And then working at the Record Plant I got really exposed to him as an artist. So when I saw that film and saw Roy Cicala on the screen, and I saw old pictures of Record Plant it brought me back to the day when I first started.

Steve Marcantonio is currently producing and engineering a Nashville tribute record to John Lennon slated for release in early 2011. Conceived to coincide with what would have been Lennon’s 70th birthday this year, and what is the 30th Anniversary of his death on December 8, the album will include covers of Lennon songs by Rodney Crowell, Foster & Lloyd, Gretchen Peters, Billy Falcon and Matraca Berg and Jeff Hanna with saxophonist Bobby Keys, who do a blistering version of “Whatever Gets You Through the Night,” a song Keys played the original saxophone on. The project has the blessing of Yoko Ono. Proceeds from the sale of the album will benefit the Nashville Engineer Relief Fund.

Interview conducted and edited by Joe Pagetta.