Posts Tagged ‘Double Fantasy’
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.
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.
“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.
London, October 18th, 2010
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”.
Roadie Henry Smith Talks About The John Lennon Tour That Might Have Been.
By Marc Shapiro
Henry Smith was in Auckland, New Zealand on December 8, 1980, serving as road manager for Roberta Flack on her latest European tour and, of equal importance, mentally preparing himself for what was coming when the Flack tour ended. His preparations for that night’s show were interrupted by a phone call.
“It was Roberta,” recalls Smith during a recent conversation with Rock Cellar Magazine. “She told me that John Lennon had just been killed.”
Smith, who has worked for the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Yardbirds and Aerosmith over the years as both a roadie and road manager, relates that the immediate response to the call was both sadness and concern.
“The people at The Dakota (where Lennon was living at the time) had called Roberta. They didn’t know if John’s murder had been a part of a conspiracy or what and, since she had lived at The Dakota, they wanted to make sure that Roberta was going to be alright.”
Smith’s reaction to the news was two-fold. Like everyone else, there was unparalleled sadness. But, unlike others, there was also an element of self interest at the news.
“I stood a chance of making some good money with John on that tour,” he admits of Lennon’s long anticipated One World, One People tour set for May 1981 in which he would serve as both road manager and de facto booking agent. “I could have become a very wealthy man.”
Smith was introduced to John Lennon late in 1980 by producer Jack Douglas, who produced the album Double Fantasy. It was shortly after the completion of the album and Lennon, for the first time in a long time, was getting ready to tour.
The official announcement that Lennon would undertake a U.S. and Europe tour was made on October 8, 1980. The musicians who had worked with him on Double Fantasy were in active rehearsal for the concert tour that Lennon hoped would hit the road in seven months.
At the point when Smith was contacted, Lennon was looking for a road manager and crew support. Smith laughs at the memory of how nervous he was at that first meeting with Lennon at the famed Record Plant in New York City.
“I mean this was John Lennon! I was so nervous that I was pinching my leg so hard when I was talking to him that I had black and blue marks. I didn’t want to sit there, just smiling and laughing at him.”
Smith found Lennon to be extremely down to earth when discussing his upcoming tour.
“He said he knew nothing about sound and lights because Brian Epstein had always taken care of those things for him. He joked that “‘I know how to turn on the lights with a light switch and I can turn the sound up and down on a radio.’” And that was basically all he knew!”
So it was agreed that Smith would be road manager for the Lennon tour and pull together a core group of technicians that included long time crew mates Dick Hansen and John Conk from the famed Brittania Row sound and lighting company. However as the conversations with Lennon continued, Smith managed to get the legendary musician’s attention in another area.
“John told me that he was in the process of getting Bill Graham to promote the tour as well as a booking agent. I told him, ‘You don’t need all that! You’re John Lennon!’ To prove my point, I called up a booking agent I knew in Texas called Lewis Messina and told him ‘I said if I can give you ten John Lennon dates, would you take them?’ The guy just laughed. I told him ‘I’m serious.’ When he realized I wasn’t pulling his leg, he said ‘Of course I would.’
“John understood what I was telling him,” he continues. “He understood that there was no need to give up a huge chunk of his money that really wasn’t going to do anymore for him than my just calling up people I knew and asking if they were interested in John Lennon shows. So John agreed that I would promote the tour for five percent of the gross and save him forty percent of the money he would have had to pay Graham and a booking agent.”
Smith next turned his attention to the particulars of the stage setting for Lennon’s return to live performances. Everybody was in agreement that Lennon’s shows had to be nothing short of spectacular. Smith, in discussion with long time sound man Dick Hansen, envisioned a stage in which none of the instruments would be visible. But Smith recalls that video was ultimately an approach to the live Lennon experience that would have been groundbreaking.
“Playing with video would have been totally new in 1980. We immediately thought of Mark Fisher (a British based architect who had forged a second career creating the stage magic for such super groups as Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and U2). I called him in the afternoon, he got on a plane that night and flew to New York. By the time he got there, he already had a few ideas penciled out and we gave him a few of our ideas.”
Ideas, explained Smith, that would cement Lennon’s attitude of being up close and personal with his audience.
“What we were going to do was take John and Yoko to each city on the tour a day before the show and film them just walking around the streets and famous points of interest and finally walking into the show. We would set up five video screens at five different points on the stage. When the people would walk in for the actual show, they would see John and Yoko on the screens, walking through their city and into the show. We also had the idea of filming the actual audience as they were walking into the show. There would be a time delay of about 20 minutes and the people already in the arena would see themselves walking into the arena. For the time, it would have been pretty trippy.”
Smith was under the impression that the set would consist of primarily songs off of Double Fantasy and was not sure as to whether Lennon would perform any Beatles’ or Lennon solo material. Rumors would abound on just what Lennon would play. Lennon was quick to stir the pot by indicating the tour set would include some reworked early Beatles’ songs, some Lennon solo songs and some 50′s rock and roll to go along with the Double Fantasy selections. But he did indicate that a novel way of presenting the songs had been set up.
“A lot of what was going to happen during the show was John and Yoko on stage, drawing pictures of what the songs meant to them. So, as a song was going to be played, the audience would see a stick figure that John drew, representing what the song meant to him. It definitely would have been different and very personal.”
Sadly, all the ideas and predictions of Lennon’s triumphant return to the stage were wiped out.
Thousands of miles away, Smith remembers how his small group of performers and crew honored the life and untimely death of John Lennon.
“Roberta wanted to sing a song at that night’s show that would bring closure to what happened to John and what he meant to the world. So she had us go out and buy a copy of the Imagine album, she learned the song and sang Imagine that night. What can I say?
“It was very emotional and very sad.”
Marc Shapiro’s comic-book biography on the life of John Lennon, Orbit: John Lennon will be published by Bluwater Comics on December 27. Pre orders are available through Amazon.com.
Ooooh, Miss Tammy has a wee shiver running up and down her spine after finding this, thanks to Miss Sara at ‘Meet The Beatles for real’ for turning this up. There is only one thing Miss Tammy likes better than finding a new photo of John in 1980, and Miss Tammy’s inner niceness, and sense of propriety forbids me from disclosing what that is .. however, if anyone is in the vicinity of Oxford St this Saturday evening at approximately 2.30am, there is a fare chance you’ll find out what that is, and an even beter chance you’ll find Princess Stephanie selling tickets on the door. But i digress, for now, let us fondle ourselves with wanton inappropriate abandon, over this new 1980 pic of John.
What a find!!, a pic of John which i believe to be from December 1st 1980, i have no other info on this pic, other than it was dated ‘December 1 1980’. This pic has Miss Tammy as damp as a cup cake, December 1 was one of the missing days we don’t have documented in photographic form from that month. Everything ties in that this date is correct, John looks as if his hair is freshly washed, it has the same part, and same style as the photo’s that Annie Leibovitz took of John on December 3rd, where is hair looked the same, just not as freshly washed. I have added the photo to the December 1980 timeline “HERE“.
Why!, WHY! is Miss Tammy so giving?, so generous that she likes to spoil her readers?. That’s me really, i could be cloistering these gems, but it’s all about niceness, and spreading the joy with me, i’m a born giver, some like to take, i like to give .. it’s in my nature. So, here we have a GOOOOOOOORGEOUS new snap of Jock McLennon in 1980.
Many thanks to David Eastburn and his friends who were there at the time, for sharing these with me. Of course Miss Tammy being the teasing and depraved minx that i am, i’ve kept a few awesome frames in my purse, to keep you waiting, returning .. and maybe even begging i shant keep you in suspense long, or will i? (To quote Willy Wonka ‘The suspense is killing me!, i hope it lasts).
Cool!!, the shirt is now back in stock, check out all the other Lennon themed shirts by clicking “HERE“ tell them i sent you, i may get a freebie out of it, tho i’ve already ordered mine
Miss Tammy never asks for much, but i’m throwing myself before you prone, foaming at every orrifice in desperation. I need help in finding a repro of this t shirt John is wearing in the above photo’s, i’ve tried writing to the company Worn Free to see if they still make them, but i’ve heard nothing back, and the shirt is not in there catalog, i desperately want to get one of these t shirts for my collection, i’ve tried ebay, Google etc etc, all with no luck, so now i’m turning it over to you guys to see if any of you can help, thinking caps on please. Thanks, Greg.